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Going “down under” with lesbian dating in Sydney

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Aug 04, 2023

Going “down under” with lesbian dating in Sydney

There’s something for everyone in the sweltering hot Sydney lesbian dating scene, whether you’ve just worked up the nerve to make that insane flight and visit for the first time, or you’re living there for the long haul. 

Sydney is an incredibly LGBT-friendly city, home to the colorful Newtown, Erskineville, and Darlinghurst gayborhoods and, of course, the world-famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, an absolute beast of a Pride event (2 weeks! Can you imagine??) Although gay men have made a big mark in the city (as often they do), there’s still plenty of fun for all the sapphics among us. 

To make sure you’re ready, we’ll go step by step to explore Sydney’s lesbian community so you can dive in at any time and meet wlw near you. Now’s not the time to be shy – expect a whole bunch of big juicy women-lovin’-women pashes as we head (hopefully) “down under” in the great Down Under. 

LGBT rights in Australia

Two cute lesbians sitting and embracing at the beach in Sydney

Source: Lez See the World

One of the most attractive aspects of Sydney’s sapphic scene is that it generally exists in one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in the world. It’s a major factor in deciding your travels if you’re forced to hide your expressions and attractions in public for fear of harassment or violence… but you won’t need to worry about that in Sydney.  

Australia is a global leader because of its extensive laws preventing discrimination on the basis of orientation in all states and all public venues – including bars, restaurants, hotels, and clubs – throughout the country. Australia is also believed to have a queer network of more than 2.5 million folks, and whatever the exact number, you can certainly feel their presence in the country’s queerest neighborhoods. AKA, you’re definitely going to find a few great queer dates! 

Of course, there are still areas (mostly rural and remote) where conservative views condemning same-sex relationships abound. Still, if you’re sticking to the bigger cities, you’ll be sure to find friendly reception more often than not. 

Sydney’s gayborhoods to keep on your radar

Before I get further into the good stuff, let’s quickly review the relevant stomping grounds you should aim for if you’re looking for Sydney’s queer community. Of course, as I just said, Sydney overall is a very sapphic-friendly city – plus not everything we wlw want to do involves being directly, flamboyantly, and publicly gay – so most places you will explore here are sure to be fun. 

Still, there is a time and place to gather (and flirt with) with fellow lez, so here’s the lowdown on Sydney’s gayborhoods for when those times arise.  


Street view of cute and colorful lesbian neighborhood Newtown/Enmore in Sydney, Australia

Source: Qantas

This neighborhood is the local lesbian mecca and, therefore, claims a bunch of parties and bar nights and a solid foundation for sapphic domesticity. Although there really isn’t a “dedicated” lesbian neighborhood anywhere in Sydney, the Newtown/Enmore combo would probably come closest out of all of them. 

Many of the most iconic ladies’ nights and party lines, like Birdcage at the Bank Hotel (see below), have made their name in Newtown’s King Street (though sadly, the regular lineup is in constant evolution, much to the locals’ chagrin. RIP Sly Fox). If you don’t have plans on Wednesday nights, you do now (or if you did, now you have new ones). 

The great thing about Newtown/Enmore, though, is that it’s not all late nights and ragers – this gayborhood offers the full cozy-up-U-haul-down package so that you can meet your cute new partner and move in together within a few-block radius. Delightful cafes, a hipster movie theater, bookstores galore, even a dog park that promises playful pups, and many a handsome andro (oh my!) – Newtown/Enmore really has it all!


Just to manage your expectations: other neighborhoods aren’t quite as sapphic as Newtown/Enmore but never fear. It doesn’t mean they don’t still have a couple. Enter Erskineville, a 10-minute walk away from King Street that may as well be a whole new world. 

Where Newtown represents the bubbly, vivacious, coming-of-age party kid queer, Erskineville is more for the calmer, maturing palate. There are still plenty of great pubs, but they’re honestly a lot more chill and situated in the neighborhood’s small-town vibes (and they close earlier). 

Accordingly, while Erskineville is great for people of all ages (and is known especially to be family-friendly), you can expect to find an older lesbian crowd out and about.

Some Erskineville hot spots – like the famous Imperial Hotel (you may know it as the starting point of the adventure detailed in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) – may feel like they’re a bit past their prime (and they are). However, they still have plenty to offer (and I think this sense only adds to the charm). 

Honorable mentions

Cute queer folks prancing across a rainbow street crossing in Sydney’s Oxford Street district

Source: Broadsheet 

Obviously, Sydney is a big city with more than two neighborhoods, but frankly, the rest aren’t as lesbian-dense as Newtown and Erskineville. Still, they have a place, and still, you’ll find your queers elsewhere, so let’s review two other honorable mentions: 

  • Darlinghurst. This gayborhood is home to the epic Oxford Street (aka the Sydney club hub) and is actually very, very gay… in the gay male sense. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the neighborhood is becoming more mixed with straight yuppies in recent years, and Oxford Street really isn’t so pretty in the daylight. As a result, many of Darlinghurst’s queers are actually migrating more to Sydney’s Inner West districts. 

Still, lots and lots (and lots!) of pubs, clubs, and sex shops for you and your lezzie heart to peruse (and lots of handy kebab stalls for a late-night snack when you’re done). Just prepare for rowdy, and inebriated crowds, especially as the night goes on!

  • Marrickville. This neighborhood is like Newtown in former days and is a haven for the hip, queer, and artist types on a budget. It’s not as central as other neighborhoods mentioned above, but it nonetheless has earned the local lesbian seal of approval and is colorfully also ethnically diverse. 

Especially check out the Portuguese food on offer (some of the best food in the city!) and the Marrickville Organic Food and Farmers Market happening every Sunday at 142 Addison Road. 

The best of Sydney’s lesbian events, bars, and spaces you absolutely shouldn’t miss

Thanks to the way the LGBT community has been given a distinguished and valued place in Australian society overall, there is a literal smorgasbord of lesbian events, experiences, and venues to choose from all over the country. From massive showcases to dykey bar nights to queer-marinated artistic and cultural events, Australia – and certainly Sydney – has a whole lot for everyone. 

The master list is constantly changing and quite extensive, but here are some of my favorite highlights.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Happy rainbow butterfly performer marching in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade

Source: The Conversation

We’re starting with the most flamboyant extravaganza on the largest scale… because why not eat dessert before the meal? Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is the big kahuna of Pride, one of the biggest and queerest celebrations in Sydney or Australia and the entire world! (And also literally – in 2023, Sydney also simultaneously hosted the World Pride celebration in a 17-day Mardi Gras!)

This whopper started in 1978 as a small, defiant street festival celebrating queerness at a time when the LGBT community had no rights in Australia. That Mardi Gras had a violent ending, but it also served as a turning point that led to the mighty blossoming of the country’s vibrant celebration today.  

Now, suppose you find yourself throwing down at Mardi Gras. In that case, you can expect to enjoy more than 2 weeks of absurd, over-the-top, and unabashedly queer celebrations, like the Kaftana Pool Party, Laugh Out Proud comedy night, Sissy Ball, and, of course, the Mardi Gras Parade! Plus, the organizers create and support LGBTQIA+ initiatives and events all year long

Sounds like a good time? You can get all the info for 2024 and see pictures from this year on the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras website

Birdcage @ the Bank Hotel

The psychedelic pink and blue 11th birthday celebration poster for the Birdcage party line in Sydney, Australia

Source:  Facebook

Sydney’s lezzie community is still looking for a greater variety of sapphic venues to call their own, but meanwhile, lesbians, bisexuals, and wlw queers of all kinds can still turn to the Bank Hotel’s Birdcage to get their fix. 

Although it does fall on a weeknight, Birdcage promises an “institution of expression” every Wednesday night, featuring resident music producers MOWGLI MAY and YVNCWEED and a crop of iconic drag performers and rising DJs. Birdcage is a self-proclaimed champion of “homegrown queer performers and artists, week in and week out,” so you can be sure the vibes are good.

 Come with a date (or meet a date there), but if you’re looking for a hot night out in lezzie Newtown, Birdcage is the place for you. 

Doors open at 8 pm, and the drag shows start at 9 pm. The best part? Entrance is always free, so you have nothing to lose if you want to give it a try. 

Heaps Gay 

Queer performer with flowers in their hair on stage at a Heaps Gay event in Sydney, Australia

Source: Facebook

Heaps Gay is not purely wlw, but please be assured that there will still be plenty of fun, friendly, and sexy ladies for you to enjoy. This famous party line is award-winning and aims to gather the queer community (and allies) and showcase the talent of young queer artists. 

Heaps Gay emphasizes the music, featuring artists from Australia and worldwide, but offers a diverse mix of happenings, from street festivals with thousands of people to more intimate warehouse parties. To give you a taste of their vibe, here’s the link to some of their playlists for fun. 

Follow Heaps Gay on Instagram for updates on their latest events, which are impressively plentiful.

Lemons with a Twist

Lemons with a New Twist party event flyer in Sydney featuring a female-presenting body in a rainbow sequin dress

Source: Facebook

This Sydney classic has been running for 18 years and recently revamped its efforts after a hiatus. Lemons with a Twist isn’t a hardcore dance party, but it does promise good music, good folks, and overall good vibes as central to the experience. It was specifically created to encourage connection-building among queer women and their friends, so the environment is conversation-friendly and not too stimulating. 

This event is run monthly by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association (SGLBA) – along with the more business-oriented Fruits in Suits – and features a slightly older (30s and 40s) crowd. 

Catch Lemons with a Twist on Sundays from 3 pm-9 pm at The Rose of Australia in Erskineville. 

One of Sydney’s many well-known “hotels”

While Sydney also has plenty of places for weary travelers to rest their heads, “hotel” in this context is an Australian substitute for a bar (now also growing entertainment venues) in many instances. This word dates back to the time when liquor licenses only allowed pubs to serve traveling customers. Many bars hacked this rule by building a few basic rooms, letting them get back to business as usual.

Nowadays, you probably won’t get a good night’s sleep at one of Sydney’s queer hotels, but you can certainly grab a nice cocktail, catch some pretty unique shows and parties, and meet some sexy people looking for the same good time you are. 

There are many hotels, but some highlights worth exploring include: 

  • The Imperial – Once a golden hub for gay male clubbers, this relic of queer Sydney still prides itself as a sophisticated and uniquely vivacious hang out for lesbians and all queers alike. You’ll find events of all kinds many nights of the week, including trivia, lip sync showcases, and a late-night disco lounge on the weekends. 
  • The Colombian – This hip, Latin-inspired hotel proclaims itself as “the jewel of Oxford Street” and features three floors with three unique bars that let patrons people-watch or drink in a beautiful sunset on Sydney’s skyline – or both. The Colombian’s events also range from night parties to social activities like Paint & Sip and murder mystery nights and generally seem suited to modern audiences.
  • Universal – Universal is considered one of Sydney’s “premier” queer venues with a pulsing vibe and drag shows every night of the week. Located right in the middle of Oxford Street, you can always count on Universal for a great drink and spin on a dance floor that welcomes you to lose yourself in the dazzling lights.
  • The Bearded Tit – Possibly the coolest, most bohemian-artsy of the bunch (at least, it’s first on my go-to list for my next trip to Sydney), The Bearded Tit is a bar and creative space to hang out, meet new folks, and partake of Australian queer art culture. It has great drinks but even better vibes since anywhere you sit, you will be immersed in the work of this unique bar exhibit. 

McIver’s Ladies Baths @ Coogee Beach

View from the water of the gorgeous, lesbian-friendly McIver’s ladies baths at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia

Source: Blogger

The Inner West of the city offers much by way of nightlife and social culture, but there still is no substitute for the ocean, which you can only splash in at the beach. Luckily, lesbians have their own little slice of sunshiney heaven at Coogee Beach, where you will find the McIver’s Ladies Baths. 

This 20-meter rock pool is built right into the shore and is completely secluded, making it a completely safe space for women. Because of the privacy, it’s also a great place to go swimming or sunbathing topless or nude. While it’s not specifically or exclusively queer, many lesbians frequent the spot alongside mothers with children and religious women who can’t reveal their bodies in front of men. 

This must-visit is an incredibly chill and inclusive space with stunning ocean views.

Getting around Sydney

Sydney is well-equipped with an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, trains, metro, light rail, and ferries. Between all these options, you’ll be able to reach any place you may think to go. 

If, however, this is not enough, you are certainly able to rent a car and drive yourself where needed. Still, a combination of public transportation, taxis, and rideshare services (like Uber, Ola, and Didi) is likely to do the trick. There’s also a special rideshare platform called Shebah which uses all-women drivers and is catered to women and children.

If you opt for a car, check the parking fees in hotels and certain parts of the city. There are multiple options, including non-paid spaces and secure car parks, so just be aware of your situation. 

To pay for public transportation, you can either purchase an Opal card or use your existing (contactless) credit card, debit card, or mobile device. You will need to load funds periodically onto your Opal card at newsagents, convenience stores, supermarkets, and the like – anywhere that offers the service. 

After you have a balance, you simply tap on it when you enter the vehicle and tap off again when you reach your destination. You can do the same with your own payment method – just remember to use the same one when tapping on and off for each trip. 

Find more information about transport options here.

Cute lesbian date ideas to win over every heart

View of the main hall of the Sydney Opera House as part of a cute lesbian date evening

Source: Sydney Opera House

If you’ve read until now, don’t get the wrong impression. There are a lot of lesbian parties happening in Sydney year-round, but that’s not the only queer stuff that happens. Besides, some of us (*cough cough me*) aren’t the craziest party animals. 

Still, we want to spend time with our crushes and meet our future wives (you definitely have good chances with the huge Australian network on HER) and fulfill our requisite first date so we can justify our U-haul on the second. So I got you covered. 

Again, this list is by no means comprehensive because there’s so much to do, but here are a few cute date activities spread throughout several of Sydney’s neighborhoods. Mix and match to really make those romantic moments your own. 

Go on – give these possibilities a read and tell me they don’t sound good: 

  • Grab brunch at one of many very cute cafes, especially in Newtown
  • Walk your dog (or their dog, or anyone’s dog) at Camperdown Park (on Federation Rd.) 
  • Watch a movie at The Dendy (261-263 King St.)
  • Cozy up together for tea and a book at Berkelouw Books Cafe (6-8 O’Connell St.)
  • Go on a budget-friendly shopping spree and choose an outfit for each other at Vinnie’s op shop (187 King Street)
  • Top the night off with some swanky cocktails in Green Room (156 Enmore Rd.)
  • Shop for fresh produce at the Marrickville Organic Food and Farmers Market (142 Addison Rd.) and impress your date with a romantic homemade dinner
  • Take a refreshing, and sensual, (naked) dip together in the last remaining ladies-only seawater pool in Australia at Coogee Beach
  • Attend a game of The Flying Bats, the largest lesbian soccer club in Sydney (and they also say the world), or a bout of the all-female Sydney Roller Derby League
  • Take in a concert (chez romantic) at the renowned Sydney Opera House 
  • Spend a day at the Taronga Zoo before catching the sunset at nearby Sydney Harbor
  • Climb to the top at the queer-friendly and wholly inclusive BlocHaus bouldering gym in Marrickville (49 Fitzroy St.) – and come on their Climbing QTs social night!

Come on, what do you think? After everything above, are you ready to spread your wings and open your cute queer heart to lesbian dating in Sydney? I hope you might be. Take a chance – the weather is fine down there, and so are the girls, and most of all, Australia enthusiastically welcomes you. May you have sapphic dates galore, mate! 

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Jillian Gogel is a writer and editor living her queer futchy dream life in Berlin. When not writing for clients, she is sharing her poetry and building intimate, creative, queer-celebrating community on her Joy Journeys Substack publication (@jillianjoy). She cares about dogs, yoga, sexual liberation, and holding space for exploring self-intimacy in all ways.

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