Four Steps to Recovering From Mardi Gras in Queensland
There’s no denying that when it comes to LGBTIQ+ festivals in Australia, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras reigns supreme. Every year sees up to 300k partygoers descend from around the world to dress up and live it up in the name of Pride.
After months of preparation, the Mardi Gras weekends always seem to fly past in a blink. Whether you want to keep the party going, or completely recuperate, ease off the gas on a trip north to the Sunshine State. This four-step Mardi Gras recovery plan in Queensland will fix you right up.
Step 1: Take a beat at Turtle Cove Beach Resort
The first thing to do after Mardi Gras is take a beat. There’s nowhere better to replenish your stores than on the idyllic coast of Cairns, and no better place to stay than at the adults-only exclusively LGBTIQ+ hotel, Turtle Cove Beach Resort..
This resort is a queer slice of heaven and is set on some of the most pristine and secluded beaches between Cairns and Port Douglas (It’s so private in fact that one of Turtle Cove’s tropical beaches is clothing optional). Their beaches look out to the Great Barrier Reef, with the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest behind. When you’re kicking back beneath the shade of a grove of palm trees, the ringing in your ears will fade away before you know it.
Step 2: Discover Two World Heritage Listed Sites
If it’s your first time coming to Tropical North Queensland, you’re in for some natural wonders.
Up here, two heritage-listed sites run flush against each other: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. These two completely vastly different terrains make for some of the most incredible experiences, from snorkelling with manta rays to trekking through a rainforest 180 million years old. And all easily accessible from Cairns.
If you’re still craving some flair and excitement, charter a chopper to fly you over the sea and visit Heart Reef.
Step 3: Get back on it in Brisbane
After a cool-down in Tropical North Queensland, get back down to Brisbane in time for the weekend. The first Sunday after every Mardi Gras is when The Wickham Hotel transforms the block into the biggest street party in town for Brisbane’s Big Gay Day.
This is a locally beloved LGBTIQ+ event on the Queensland calendar. Not only does it feature local and international DJs, drag queens and headlining superstars pulling out the stops, but a portion of the profits flow back into supporting the LGBTIQ+ community.
Over the 17 years since the Big Gay Day started, its stage has been graced by the likes of Kelly Rowland, Boy George, RuPaul and the Veronicas.
Sunday night also happens to be Brisbane’s premier night for local drag performances. Afterwards, head to Fluffy at Cloudland, or the Stand in California Lane to see some of the best emerging drag artists perform. If there’s still fuel in your tank, finish off your night at the Beat Megaclub.
Step Four: Follow the Rainbow to the Sunshine Coast
If all that wasn’t enough, back it up with a weekend at Noosa.
The Rainbow Rver Festival is always held the weekend after Brisbane’s Big Gay Day, so you could spend the week getting to know the city, or head up there early to explore the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
In the past, Noosa was an LGBTIQ+ haven, especially in the weeks after Mardi Gras. The scene has faded a little over the years, but there is a push to bring the sparkle back to the Sunshine Coast with the Rainbow River Festival.
Join the rally on Saturday at Villa Noosa before spending the afternoon kicking back on one of the local beaches (our pick is the secluded Alexandria Bay). It’s accessible via a hike through the Noosa National Park, which has plenty of tracks down to beaches and rockpools along the way. Be on the lookout for koalas, goannas and if you’re lucky, you might even see a cockatoo. Replenish your fluids with a few sundowners at VIlla Noosa to finish off your Saturday.
On Sunday, sleep in and go along to the free picnic by the Noosa River, then jump on board the Rainbow Party Boat for the official river festival party.
If you need more quality time with nature after three back-to-back weekends of festivities, consider escaping to North Stradbroke Island for a few days.