Sydney Mardi Gras - Australia 2006

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Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

Sydney’s 28th annual gay and lesbian Mardi Gras (now called “New Mardi Gras”) was a massive success. A cash profit of $91,000 (with the help of sponsorship from was announced. Marcus Bourget, Chair of New Mardi Gras said “This result should make everyone in Sydney smile.  We have managed to produce a very successful Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Season while delivering a modest profit for the year, which is a pleasing result for the organisation.  It is a step in the right direction and provides a solid foundation for NMG to move forward from.”

More than 120 floats and over 6,000 participants, marched past an estimated 300,000 strong crowd who lined the parade route. Its kicks off from Hyde Park, then runs up through the gay district of Oxford Street, finishing at Moore Park (Fox Studios), where the 15,000 capacity party then begins. The Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras famously began back in 1978 when the parade was stopped by the police and turned into an angry demonstration, with many participants bashed up and thrown in jail, by the then homophobic police. These days the police actually have their own float in the parade and have done so for the past 10 years, how times have changed! In the 28 years since the parade first began, the parade has had many highs and lows, moments of joy and plenty of flashes of absolute brilliance. So now here we are again, this event is about much more than changing the law, it’s become more fashionable and a chance to get together and become one of Sydney’s most iconic events.

This year’s parade was definitely wild, loud and fabulous. “I believe” was the theme, with the entrants designing their costumes and floats around the “I believe” theme. An entry from Bali also appeared in the parade for the first time, to encouraged tourist to go back to the island following the recent terrorist attacks. The Sydney Convict Rugby Team, the only gay rugby team in Sydney, had a massive turn out for its float, which showed off their post match or locker room antics, after a hard game. The club is the current holder of the Halligan cup after an undefeated season. In May 2006 they are off to Bingham Cup (the Gay Rugby World Cup in New York). The dykes on bikes roared up the parade route on their butch Harley Davison’s, this was their 19th year of traditionally leading the parade route.

The heart of Sydney’s gay scene is Oxford Street. During the day the Oxford Street’s cafes are perfect for people watching; by night, the action shifts to the street’s clubs and bars, where drag queens mix with leather boys, suburban boys, butch dykes, glamour dykes, transsexuals, bisexuals… and just about anybody else you can think of. The gay scene is spread throughout other areas of Sydney, such as NewTown, but find your way to Oxford Street and you will find your way.

We started our night by dragging up and visiting one of the main bars here on Oxford Street, The Midnight Shift - located at number 85 Oxford Street, is one of the busiest and notorious gay bar’s and has undergone many transformations over the last ten years and now boasts two different venues. Here at the downstairs video bar area and upstairs the night club. The bar was mainly a mixed crowd with retro music, and a drag show, which some how we got dragged into the show. See the Video above.

After a good night at the Midnight Shift, we find ourselves at – Stonewall, located at number 175 Oxford street. Stonewall has become a gay institution on the strip attracting a young, very gay crowd. It has three levels with the pub type crowd downstairs, the middle level is a groovy dance music and the top level is more house & hard dance

Other famous Sydney bars include the Oxford, the Columbian, the Palms, and the new posher bar - Slide, located at number 41 Oxford Street, the art deco bank building has been reinvented and turned into one of the sexiest, most sophisticated bars on Oxford Street. It offers a stunning ground floor area with comfortable booths and a gorgeous island bar as well as a more intimate upper level cocktail bar. On deck, providing some of the hottest tunes, are Sydney’s most respected DJs and artists accompanied by a spectacular light and sound system. The bar attracts young mixed crowd and will surely leave you with a taste for the best of everything.

For those of you, who are into leather scene, or masculine denim type, check out Manacle, located 1-5 flinders street, Taylor square (just behind the T2 building). Formerly called the Barracks, it’s a cruisy basement bar and well known for its after-hours parties.

A short ride by taxi is the Imperial in Erskineville (Sydney’s older gay district). the Imperial has been made world famous by the film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert. There are three parts on this hotel, the front bar which attracts a rough laid back pub crowd, the back bar which has some really fantastic drag shows and the bottom dance bar.

There are three main clubs in Sydney; two of them are permanent clubs, namely Arq, and the Midnight Shift Club…. And the other Home Night club, down at Darling Harbour holds the themed ‘HomeSexual’ parties- Check out the web site for dates and info:

There’s also seasonal and one off parties to look out for, such as London’s famous DTPM SYDNEY held at Tank nightclub. Click Here to see our DTPM SYDNEY photo’s (taken March 2006).

For those seeking a bit of horny fun or shall we say “Fast Love” there is no shortage of men’s venues in Sydney. Hot spots include Bodyline at 10 Taylor Street (Darling Hurst); The Den at 97 Oxford Street (Darling Hurst); Sydney City Steam at 357 Sussex Street (Near Town Hall Station); Headquarters at 273 Crown Street (Darling Hurst); Kingsteam at 38 Oxford Street (Darling Hurst); Signal on Riley Street (Darling Hurst); and Ken’s at Kensington, 83 Anzac parade (Kensington).

Oxford street is not just lined up with good café’s, bars and clubs, its also a place for some retail therapy with its endless selection of boutiques, markets and malls.  Aussieboys located at number 102 Oxford Street, sells gay clothing, accessories, footwear and huge selections of speedos and thongs. When it comes to leatherwear and accessories, Sax Fetish at 110 Oxford Street simply shines, it showcases a huge array of leather, latex, PVC and steel items. Custom-made services are also offered. If you want DVD’s or Adult toys, Toolshed is a great choice. So whatever you fancy, there is a place for you to run up your credit card or empty your wallet

There’s always a place for looking good and pumping up your muscles in Sydney, (located at 107 crown street, City Gym is one of the friendliest and gayest of gym’s in Sydney) it’s a great place to train, hangout, and meet locals. It has a good numbers of dumbbells and a good range of equipment. The other local Oxford Street gym is Golds Gym on 23 Pelican Street. It also has a great range of equipment and sexy boys to hang out with.  Fitness First are also all over Sydney, just make sure you bring your membership card with you if your already a member in the UK.

So that was Sydney’s gay scene but you don’t visit Sydney just for its gay scene you want to see the city, the sights, and the local culture. One of the best ways to see the city from an amazing angle is via a helicopter. You can book rides via your hotel concierge or do like what we did and did a quick search on the internet, prices are actually not as expensive as you’d think if you compare to that of the Bridge Climb or Sky Walk. We used Blue Sky Helicopters, as you can see from the photos the views were spectacular.

Sydney Harbour Bridge its one of Australia’s most imposing and iconic sights. And if the view from the footpath isn’t enough, why not climb the bridge, Yes! Climb it! Climb the 200 stairs for a truly’ top of the world’ feeling and the view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.

One other famous, best known attraction landmark in Sydney is The Sydney Opera House, its unique architectural gem, perched dramatically over the sea , and may look like sails in full flight but the architect’s inspiration was the segments of mandarin.

Circular Quay, located at the northern end of the Central Business District, this one of the Sydney’s major transport hubs. Trains, ferries and buses depart here to points all over Sydney, including Manly, Bondi and Toronga Zoo.

Darling harbour is home to an exciting range of attractions include the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Imax Theatre, two large shopping centres and the famous Sydney Aquarium.

The Sydney Aquarium is not only Australia’s number 1 attraction, its one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world, home to over 11,000 species of aquatic animals. From freshwater fish, to coral gardens. Get close and feel some of the starfish, walk through the underwater tunnel and see seals as if they were in their natural habitats, racing through the water. See the Oceanarium where you will be surrounded by one of the world’s most extensive collection of sharks and giant stingrays.

Sitting right on Sydney Harbour, with views to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, is Luna Park, located at Milsons Point, just under the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is easily accessible by train, bus, ferry and car. Entry to Luna Park is free (just pay for the rides) and there are many great rides to choose from.

Haven’t spotted a kangaroo in Hyde Park yet? Well get yourself off to Taronga Zoo. The ferry ride to Taronga Zoo (from Circular Quay) is amazing, seeing the city and the harbour in different prospective was quite special; to get to the zoo you need to get on a ferry ride from north circulay quay which will take around 12 minutes and will cost you from 37 dollars (£15). Taronga Zoo offers Australia’s unique wild life to exotic animals from around the world. The Sky Safari ride offers panoramic views of Sydney harbour as well as Taronga’s animals. Over 2000 rare and endangered animals including Western Lowland Gorillas, Sumatran Tiger, Kodiaks bears, giraffes and many more… why not have your special photo session with the koala or watch the amazing free flight bird show held in the zoo’s amphitheatre. Taronga Zoo is one of the best places to visit in Sydney, for young and old.

Just over a two hour drive or train trip from Sydney is the Blue Mountains. Organised coach tours to the area are a great way to see the spectacular views and attractions. Many of the operators also stop off, like we did, at an Australian wild life park. Where you can meet and get close to the countries amazing wildlife.

The Blue Mountains has some spectacular sights, the name itself ‘Blue Mountain’ was made due to the vapour from the eucalyptus trees that turns the air to blue.  See the amazing and beautiful rock formation: the three sisters; Experienced a glass floored cable car ride, the thrill of the world’s steepest railway as you go down and explore the rainforest, and enjoy the bush walk beneath the rainforest canopy.

Royal Botanic Gardens: a favourite picnic spot, jogging route and place to stroll. It was established way back in 1816 and it’s fantastic location for the world famous Gay Harbour Party called Azure. Traditionally held the week before Mardi Gras. 

A short walk away from the gardens, you will come across Mrs. Mannequins Point and is a great place for photograph opportunities of Sydney Opera House and the beautiful Harbour Bridge. Also in this area is Boy Charlton Pool, where you will find some gay guys chilling out in their tight Speedo.

Find yourself sitting on the shades of Hyde Park, this park doesn’t have the glamour of Botanic but it’s a popular place to hang out, read you favourite books, strolling around, and even roller skate. Named after Hyde Park in London, it has a total of five fountains and over 600 varieties of trees. There is also a large chess set to play on.

You can’t come to Sydney and not visit the famous Australian beach – Bondi Beach On a hot sunny day like this, Bondi is jam-packed of sexy, beautiful bodies and topless sunbathers, it’s a great location for a jog along the sea front and there are some great work-out area’s to pump your muscle’s. Bondi is easy to get to from most parts of Sydney: just take the direct 380 Bus from Oxford Street. The beach itself is your classic picture postcard scene of golden sand and blue water, protected and under supervision by sexy lifeguards. The gay area on Bondi is at the far north end of the beach just in front of the North Bondi Surf Club.

Another Beach worth paying a visit is Tamarama, to get to it follow the cliff top walk from the south end of Bondi Beach. It takes about 15 minutes and the views are just beautiful.

Forget your trunks? no worries,  there are a number of nude beaches and cruising areas around Sydney. One of the best one’s we found is the Obelisk Beach on the north side of Sydney harbour. There is another called Lady Jane Nudist beach on the south side. Although Obelisk Beach is much harder to get to than Bondi Beach, it really is a fantastic and beautiful place to go for an afternoon of sun, sea and crusing in the bushes! Obelisk is very laid back and doesn’t have the commercialization that Bondi has, so don ‘t expect to be able to buy your popsicles at a kiosk. Here’s a short video that I made of my boyfriend Erick at Obelisk Beach. It was shot the day after Mardi Gras 2006. Instead of going to Toy Box after-hours party we headed down the beach and made use of our last day in sunny Sydney making this short video.  


Sydney truly is, a dream city for us gay and lesbian travellers.  So What ever you’re after, Sydney has it, with its beautiful beaches, the spectacular nature to discover, endless shopping, great nightlife and of course the biggest party and parade of them all, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.


Recommended Sydney web sites:

Sydney Mardi Gras

SX News

Sydney Star Observer

Australian Gay Guide

Sydney Gay Map

Azure Harbour Party

Toy Box Party

Midnight Shift


Arq Nightclub


Sydney City Steam

KingSteam Sauna

Bodyline Sauna

See Sydney

HeadQuarters bar


ManAcle bar

Sydney Marriott Hotel

Gay Ski Week NZ