Gay Darwin: Where to eat, drink, play and sleep

By Emen8, updated 1 week ago in Travel and party / In Australia

Darwin City aerial

Are you looking to experience all that gay Darwin has to offer? Whether you’re looking for a casual drink, a night out at the theatre, or simply want to meet other guys into guys, we’ve got you covered.

Come with us as we explore the best spots to eat, drink, and play in Darwin.

Where is the gay community in Darwin?

You’ll find LGBTQ people throughout the city, but there isn’t a specific neighbourhood that’s predominantly gay. Wherever you go, you can expect a welcome as warm as the weather. And we know you like it hot!

Several areas in Darwin are popular with travellers and locals — such as Darwin City, the suburb of Parap, and the beachside neighbourhood of Nightcliff.

Although Darwin is slightly more conservative than its East Coast neighbours, these areas have plenty of gay-friendly businesses, including bars, cafés, and restaurants.

Scenic spot at Darwin Waterfront Wharf, Kitchener Bay, Northern Territory, Australia. The Darwin Waterfront is a popular place for restaurants, shops, water sports, and cruise ships.

Gay meeting places in Darwin

Darwin offers a handful of fun and lively spots for the city’s queer community, so you’re in for a good time on a visit here.

As well as gay-friendly bars and nightlife, LGBTQ events and organisations bring the community together, including the Darwin Pride Festival and the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC).

Where to drink — best gay bars in Darwin

Charlies of Darwin

Looking for a bar, gin distillery and restaurant frequented by the local queers? Charlies of Darwin is the place for you. Located in Darwin City they’ve got a cocktail lounge and terrace to enjoy a drink in the afternoon and stay well into the night. If you’re looking for a fun activity during your stay, the distillery offers gin blending classes and sells Darwin Distilling Co. local gins.

Hanky Panky Lounge

The quote on their website, ‘Let’s get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini!’, really sets the vibe for the campy Hanky Panky Lounge. Behind the birds on Mitchell Street, this dimly lit bar has cute bartenders serving specialty cocktails and snacks. With a sexy, sultry ambience to match the décor and staff, Hanky Panky longue is perfect for a hot date or a steamy debrief with a bestie.

Dom’s Bar

In Darwin’s northern suburbs, Dom’s is a cocktail bar and lounge, a favourite among the local LGBTQ scenes. Dom’s prides itself on crafting cocktails with premium spirits and local native ingredients. They host a weekly Trivia night on Thursdays, perfect for a chill cocktail night with friends.

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia-November 26,2017: Cullen Bay marina and people eating outside at Lola's Pergola restaurant during a tropical storm in Darwin, Australia

Where to eat — gay restaurants and cafés in Darwin

Antz Plantz

Get yourself a fantastic brekkie on the weekends at Antz Plantz in Humpty Doo. This gay-owned café and orchid nursery is located in suburban Darwin, 30 minutes from the city centre.

Aunties

Recently purchased by local drag queen Sherri-Lee, Aunties café on Mitchell Street is the perfect spot for a coffee and toasted sandwich fix in the heart of Darwin CBD. Sherri-Lee prides Aunties on being a vibrant and inclusive gathering space where you can vibe with locals, and everyone is a regular!

Bustard Town

Queer-friendly Bustard Town in Darwin City is a restaurant, event space, beer garden and café all rolled into one. With the ‘best pizzas and BBQ grill in Darwin’, you’ll come for the food and stay for a show in their massive band room.

Darlings

Darlings is a handmade pasta and vino joint that opens from 5 pm. Located on Smith street, Darling’s is the perfect spot to start your night.

Saltwater @ Bundilla

Located inside the museum and art gallery of the Northern Territory (another must-see), Saltwater@Bundilla’s ethos is all about sustainability, using the best of the Territory’s produce and showcasing the art of the Larrakia Nation.

Ray’s Café and Patisserie

With a well-deserved cult following on social media, Ray’s café is a brother venue of Darlings. Offering a full-service brunch and patisserie menu, Ray’s will be the perfect hangover cure or morning pastry stop if you stay in the area.

Where to play — things to do in gay Darwin

Otter and the Bear Holistic Health

New Bear on the Block, Otter and the Bear is a men’s massage and holistic health business in Stuart Park. They offer a range of massage, manscaping, and treatments, from relaxation, tantric and sensual, that can be customised to individual needs.

Gay cruising clubs in Darwin

Looking for gay cruising clubs in Darwin? You’ll need to travel further away as there are no gay saunas or cruising clubs in Darwin, or in The Northern Territory.

Find our complete guide to sex venues across the country here. If you’re new to sex-on-premises venues or want to improve your pick-up game, check out our guide on how to up your chances of picking up at a gay venue!

Still, if you’re planning on having some fun on your trip to Darwin, make sure you bring enough PrEP or HIV treatment meds, condoms and lube. There are also places to access PrEP and PEP while you’re there.

people partying at a queer nightclub

Gay festivals and events in Darwin

Darwin queer party accounts to follow:

Darwin Pride (DP) Festival / Top End Pride

The Darwin Pride Festival was established by a group of passionate Darwinites dedicated to diversity, equality, and celebrating the LGBTIQA+ communities. Taking place in June every year (since 1985), the Pride festival is a fabulous celebration packed with events, parades, and even its own mascot — Crocsilla — the queen of all things pride!

Darwin Festival

Not a gay festival specifically, but Darwin Festival is still a great time to visit the city if you want a stellar atmosphere and non-stop lineup of entertainment, including plenty of LGBTQ talent. Darwin Festival takes place every August and celebrates all things community arts across an epic 18 days. Expect local and touring performances, outdoor concerts, workshops, theatre, dance, music, comedy, cabaret, film, and visual arts.

Sugarbag

Enjoying success three years running, Sugarbag is a ‘sweet hive of arts & cultural events held in Garramilla [Darwin] on Larrakia Country’. Held over a weekend in early June, Sugarbag includes a queer storytelling night, a queer history walking tour and the Block (street) Party. Kicking off the festival season and bringing art and music to Darwin’s streets, you’ll come for Sugarbag, stay for Top End Pride and fall in love with this fabulous city.

If you’re keen to make a pride pilgrimage through the Northern Territory, check out our review of LGBTQ festivals up north.

Gay theatre Darwin

The Brown’s Mart Theatre

Located in the historic Brown’s Mart building, this independent theatre is a hub for creative and diverse performances, including occasional LGBTQ productions. Brown’s Mart Theatre is a great place to go for a show and come home with a theatre-gay.

The Darwin Entertainment Centre

If you’re looking for live music, theatre, or comedy, the Darwin Entertainment Centre hosts a wide range of events, from big-name concerts to local performances.

The Darwin Community Arts Space

This grassroots and community-led arts centre hosts a variety of performances and events, as well as workshops, shows, and all things artsy. With previous projects supporting the local LGBTQ community, throw some support back their way and check out their programming on your visit to the tropical Top End.

Where to stay — gay-friendly and gay hotels in Darwin

With sparkling nightlife and a vibrant gay scene, Darwin is the perfect destination for an unforgettable gaycation. Stay in or around the Darwin CBD to be close to all the action. As with Australia’s other major cities, Darwin has no shortage of accommodation options, from hotels and hostels to Airbnbs.

Hotels in Darwin are concentrated in the CBD, Waterfront Precinct and Parap. Small pockets of hotels can be found in suburbs around Darwin International Airport, such as Winnellie, Eaton, and Coconut Grove.

If you want to get your buns out in the Darwin sun, check out Darwin Gay Escape, a naturist accommodation 50 minutes from Darwin run by a gay nudist couple. You can join hosts on a tour of Darwin’s only nudist beach at the end of Casuarina Coastal Reserve.

There are plenty of Airbnbs in or around Darwin. Airbnb accommodation is similarly concentrated around the Darwin CBD and Waterfront Precinct. However, there are also Airbnbs available across Darwin’s northern suburbs, such as Coconut Grove, Nightcliff, Casuarina and Wagaman. Comparing hotel and Airbnb prices may land you a more competitive price in your desired location. You can also check out the popular misterb&b for a range of LGBTQ-friendly accommodation options across Darwin.

For budget travellers, hostels and lodges are spread across Darwin’s CBD, with a cluster along Mitchell Street. You’ll be in a central location with the gay scene, Bicentennial Park, and the Waterfront Precinct on your doorstep at a highly affordable rate. Be prepared to share bathroom and cooking amenities with other travellers; you may even make a new friend!

So, there you have it. The complete guide to the best places for gay men to drink, party, sleep, repeat in Darwin. Let us know what you would add to the list!

Want to visit other locations in Australia on your trip? Take a look at our gay-friendly travel guides to these Australian cities: