Australia is an incredibly diverse country and this is reflected in the nightlife. In the major cities, like Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, you’ll find bars and clubs that wouldn’t look out of place in any European metropolis. Venture into the sticks, however, and you can expect little more than a campfire and a cool box. In a country with a climate as balmy as Australia’s, the latter can often seem supremely more attractive.
As much as it pains us to say it, in your typical Aussie town, the pubs are rubbish. Almost all are attached to an entire room stuffed with fruit machines (big part of the culture) and a sub-standard restaurant. Generally speaking, the atmosphere in these places is about as invigorating as a multi-story car park. This isn’t to say the suburban Aussies don’t know how to have a good time; they just prefer to do it in their own backyards where the sun’s shining.
This is where the Australians go to party. Every Spring Break teenagers descend on Surfer's Paradise ready to party the nights away. The area is well-known for having awesome pubs, clubs and bars. Whether your going out style is live bands, solo acts, DJs or pop music there'll be an awesome club with a night for you on the Gold Coast. Some of the biggest and best include Cocktails Nightclub, Club Liv, Sin City, Vanity and elsewhere bar. If you like your beer al fresco check out Surfers Paradise Beergarden and Surfers Sandbar too. Oh and if you just want to sing your heart out - get yourself along to GClef Karaoke.
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, has a great nightlife scene which in recent years has begun to seriously rival that of Sydney. The main clutch of bars and clubs can be found spread between the CBD and St Kilda, a beach suburb a few kilometres southeast. The CBD has the swankiest venues, many of which are strung along the Yarra River. There are also plenty of rooftop terraces which offer fantastic views of the city, such as Red Hummingbird Bar, Siglo Bar and the aptly named Rooftop Bar.
St Kilda is a more casual affair; shorts and thongs as opposed to suits and boots. Fitzroy Street and Acland Street are lined with great bars and restaurants; the vast majority have outdoor seating and are popular with the backpacker crowd.
Sydney nightlife is still the best in the country for sheer diversity and atmosphere. The CBD is absolutely packed with decent venues, particularly George Street, which runs through the heart of everything. The Rocks, Sydney’s historic centre, is also a great place to seek out cool bars, as is Woolloomooloo, which lies to the east of the CBD (try pronouncing it when you’ve had a few).
The Kings Cross area, Sydney’s red light district, is a more edgy affair but definitely worth visiting, if only to soak up the atmosphere. If strip clubs are your thing you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, has a decent nightlife scene, with the most popular area being the Fortitude Valley, which is a five minute drive from the CBD. Some of the better venues include Birdee Num Num, a good place to meet fellow backpackers and to get a cheap drink, The Fringe Bar, which is a bit more upmarket, and Family, the largest and most popular club in the city.
People don’t generally visit Darwin in the Northern Territory for its nightlife, though there is a small selection of bars along Mitchell Street, just north of the Esplanade. Despite Darwin’s reputation for being an incredibly laid-back city, the aforementioned area can get a bit rough in the small hours.
Perth, the capital of Western Australia and the most isolated city in the world, steps up to the mark with its nightlife. The Northbridge area is party central and has a buzzing atmosphere on Friday nights when the city workers spill out in their droves. William Street, Fitzgerald Street, and all the streets in between are where you’ll find the best action, with a great selection of bars and clubs.
‘Nightlife’ may be a slightly misleading term for the tin shacks found in the tiny settlements scattered throughout Australia’s impossibly vast Outback, but they’re well worth a look. The beer’s always cold and the locals always have an interesting story to tell. Who needs lasers anyway? Daly Waters, a ridiculously quirky bush pub in the Northern Territory, is a particularly memorable den: the walls are decorated with driving licenses and women’s underwear.