Alice Springs is the epicentre of G & L life in the Northern Territory. The town happily hosts two big gay and lesbian events and every city poof and dyke should try a desert dance experience at least once in their life.
This year, the very popular SPIN F-X dance party will be held pre-Mardi Gras on Saturday 28 February in Alice Springs. The theme, Alice Is Wearable, asks punters to dress up (or down) in wearable art. This party attracts an eclectic and electric crowd -“ get ready to rub thongs with Yank tourists, bush cockies and glamour dykes under a starry desert sky.
In May, international superstar Vanessa Wagner hosts the Precisely Priscilla dance party at Kings Canyon, in the Watarrka National Park. The canyon is a magnificent eroded natural wonder -“ a bit like Terrence Stamp’s face -“ and featured in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. Now, who could possibly forget Guy Pearce shakin’ his groove thing on that rocky precipice?
This party promises to be a magical three-day adventure starting on Saturday 1 May in Alice, where you board your air-conditioned coach (that’s a bus, not a whistle blower) and head along the Stuart Highway for the five-hour trip to Kings Canyon. The night features a special screening of that movie with supper and rounds of table tennis.
Sunday morning will see you up at the crack of dawn for a guided rimming the canyon walk, with the rest of the day to be spent catching up on beauty sleep and sewing those final sequins for the main event which kicks off at 9pm at the Kings Canyon Resort. Then it’s back to Alice around lunchtime on the Monday. A number of packages (unfortunately not Guy’s) are available, ranging from deluxe spa rooms to shared bunk rooms.
Alice Springs itself sports a large gay and lesbian community for a small town. A lot of the dykes come to work in the area’s social service industry while most of the boys appear to be escaping big city lifestyles and attitudes. They’re a close-knit bunch and everyone seems to know each other. New faces are always welcome and it’s not the shark feeding frenzy one might expect for fresh meat around the many barbies that make up social life here.
Alice sits in the Australian psyche as a central icon, both geographically and historically. It’s hot, dusty, dry and isolated. You’ll find characters walking around the town who look like they are straight out of an outback saga -“ wearing thongs, stubbies, dusty akubras and red raw tans. The best trait of the population here -“ gay or straight -“ is the total lack of pretension. Don’t bother packing those D&G hipsters for this trip.
A visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park is a must. Here you’ll get a fascinating insight into the desert flora and fauna by visiting three unique desert habitats. Try to time your visit with the Birds Of Prey show.
Also worth the effort is the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct, a unique complex featuring art galleries and museums showcasing the Aboriginal culture and natural history of the region. The main drag, Todd Mall, features numerous cafes and galleries showcasing indigenous art.
This outback town sports two regular G&L options: Bar Doppio in the town centre is the hang for the girls and no poof worth his weight in sand should miss visiting Febe’s Bar, set in the spare bedroom of a local celebrity and featuring mirror ball and high-tech sound system. Febe’s talents will also feature at the SPIN F-X party. Accommodation options include The Rainbow Connection, a small gay-operated B&B, or the Alice Springs Resort, a very gay-friendly property on the banks of the Todd River.
Disclosure: Malcolm Harding and Dominic O’Grady are co-publishers of Gay Travel Guides. Visit www.gaytravelguides.info for more stories on gay and lesbian Australia.