Best Of The Gaybourhoods – DARLINGHURST

Best Of The Gaybourhoods – DARLINGHURST
Image: Simon Byerley, Chris Cody & Brandy. Photo: Ann-Marie Calilhanna

With the borders shut, dreams of flying off to Paris or New York in the near future have been slashed. But the good news is there are some gems right in our own neighbourhoods that are worth the visit.

So take a day (or two) and use our handy gaybourhood guide to get back in touch with your own area.

Darlinghurst is the place where every queer person and their ally can find their community. It’s home to a rich fabric of history, iconic watering holes and mouth-watering restaurants.

Start your day right with sticky date pancakes (drowned in butterscotch, ice cream, with fresh berries and pistachio praline) at The Rusty Rabbit or perhaps grab some takeaway to eat on the go from Swiss Bakerz.

Now if you are looking to learn a bit of queer history, or even just refresh your knowledge, then it is time to join Wonder Mama on a two-hour experience in the heart of LGBTQI Sydney.

 Known as Sydney’s Super-Hero Drag Queen, she will share her experiences and insights into the district and its happenings.

On the way, visit iconic venues and learn about the colourful characters that have been icons on the Sydney scene – activists, entrepreneurs and even legendary drag queens. (You’ll be treated to some store discounts too, just for joining the tour!).

The tour ends near Taylor Square at the Sydney Rainbow Crossing where you can stay to take photos and then go for a drink or coffee at a local cafe.

All are welcome, and even if you’ve lived in Sydney all your life, you will discover things you never knew!

 After this, you might want a couple of ice-cold beers and a traditional pub meal. Thankfully for Sydney residents, there is one such pub, the Lord Roberts Hotel in Darlinghurst. Enjoy an afternoon drink in their rooftop beer garden, or grab a bite to eat from a fantastic and affordable bistro menu.

But, that’s not the only place to stop for a drink. It’s also not a day in Darlinghurst without a trip to The Oxford Hotel, Universal or Stonewall. The Oxford Street institution takes its name from the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and the beginning of Gay Liberation as we know it.

There’s also Kinselas with its high and ornate art deco ceilings, a tribute to the building’s history as a funeral parlour. It was the headquarters of Charles Kinsela from 1933 until 1982 before it was redeveloped to a pub.

And what’s a day trip without some retail therapy of course. For fabulous costume attire visiting the House Of Priscilla and Aussie Boys, Daly Male and Sax Fetish are all absolute must visits for swimwear and leather items. Pop in and see the owner of Core Optique, Corey Hawley and his team of highly trained optometrists who specialise in contact lens fittings, macular degeneration, diabetic eye exams, glaucoma, and cataract assessments. Corey and his team provide you with that true boutique experience when fitting the perfect fit for you eye health with a special focus on pairing a client’s personality with a quintessential, exquisite design. 

 Why not head in for a sweat session at Bodyline Sydney who have been a community favourite for the past 30 years. The venue opened in December 1991 by Craig Saunders as the first lawfully gay bathhouse in Australia. With spa, sauna and much more (wink wink) it’s the perfect place for any gay man to relax, and perhaps have an exciting rendezvous with someone new.

When it’s time for dinner Una’s and Thai Nesia are waiting for you. 

Una’s authentic continental cuisine brings the finest dishes from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Hungary to Darlinghurst – their famous schnitzels and goulash both come highly recommended.

If you’re looking for something little more exotic Thai Nesia will hit the spot. Their classic Thai menu has been filling the nostrils and titillating the tastebuds of visitors with their fragrant dishes for over 25 years. Proof they are have something special to offer.

While exploring the suburb, don’t be afraid to go inside City Gym and meet the friendly team. While it might not seem ‘touristy’ to visit a gym, it’s an iconic hub in Darlinghurst. In 1986, Billy Kokkinis, then aged 15, headed to City Gym for work experience and flash forward a few decades, he took over the business – determined to create a safe haven for the LGBTQI community. And considering everything going on in the world now is the perfect time to focus on yourself and head into the recently renovated gym!

If you want a quiet night at home after a long day of sightseeing, eating and retail therapy then make sure to order some tasty takeaway from a local such as Claire’s Kitchen on Oxford Street and perhaps pick up some cocktail ingredients on the way from Corkscrew Cellars.

So what are you waiting for? Start exploring Sydney’s LGBTQI hub tomorrow.

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