Correspondents: Down Under with Thunder
Photos in order (1-2) by Stacy Azerou Mehrfar (3) by Larry Johnson, (4) by David Iliff
Story by Larry Johnson.
Our visit to Australia started in Perth, on the remote western coast of Australia. A great day trip is South to the Margaret River area to tour wineries and eventually Cape Leewun, a mere 3,377 miles from the South Pole and where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet. The waves crash spectacularly against the rocky shore and you may see penguins, dolphin or whale.
Until we connected with Bears Perth, we were convinced that Perth was like Iran – No gay people here. We were delightfully wrong in this perception, though, and the Bears were quick to organize a social event at The Court, one of the most popular gay pubs in the City. (Pic of group).
Our journey next took us east to Melbourne, a center Australian culture. From there, head east to Yarra Valley, famous for its wine production. The Rochet Winery frequently hosts open air events and scheduled a concert with Simply Red on the grounds during our visit.
In Sydney we missed Mardi Gras, but went to “Fair Day”, where the LGBT community hints at the revelry to come. Thunderstorms add to the excitement of outdoor festivals, and 2009' was a constant deluge—drag queens suffered. But they also remained dedicated to the wonderful sense of community, along with the many other attendees present. "Fair Day 2009" stickerwearing participants could be seen throughout Sydney the rest of the day. The cosmopolitan nature of the city is apparent by the number of straight families who chose to bring both children and grandparents to the event.
Two “must see” items in Sydney are the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The one-hour tour of the Opera House gives a basic understanding of how it operates. If you want to see a performance, book ahead of time as it’s frequently sold out.
The Bridge Climb well exceeded our expectations. After taking a breathalyzer and a quick orientation, you’re bundled up in coveralls, securely belted and attached to a cable. You then emerge on a catwalk that leads to the top of the bridge (440 feet) where, after a climb and some photographs, you cross to the other side and return to earth. Even if you’re not a fan of heights, this is an incredible experience, offering views that you wouldn’t get elsewhere.
Larry Johnson is part of Out Traveler's international team of Correspondents, reporting from around the world on items of LGBT travel interest. If you would like to become a Correspondent, e-mail us here after checking out our guidelines.