Posts Tagged ‘bars’

Brisbane Nightlife: Fortitude Valley

Having spent the better part of my drinking life living in Brisbane I’m acutely aware of the phenomenon that is the Fortitude Valley. One of Australia’s largest party and nightclub districts, the valley has around 60,000 people there every Friday and Saturday night. This makes the place a pretty impressive experience, there are people from all walks of life, pubs and clubs catering to every different subculture and musical interest, a shitload of police and a huge amount of street food-vendors, but it isn’t perfect, in fact far from it.

The problem is the experience so often isn’t good. There aren’t enough bars, pubs and clubs (or maybe there are too many people), there are huge line-ups for venues, most places are already over-crowded and there are a huge number of people on the street supposedly walking between venues. Add to this a lot of alcohol, a 3am curfew, a limited number of taxis and a mesh of cultures and the product is the violence and unrest that the Brisbane City Council and Queensland Police are acutely aware of.

I’m certain that all levels of government and police are trying to solve these problems in their own way, more police on the streets, tighter licensing monitoring, modifying terms of licenses, more licenses, less licenses, more cabs, more cab ranks etcetera, etcetera. Yet as the bandaids pile up, the solution becomes more and more clear to me and while attempting to model the nightlife on another city seems like a fools errand, I think that is the solution, but not quite the same as you are expecting.

Reducing the average size of the licenses and increasing the number of licenses makes sense and seems to work to some extent in Melbourne, yet in the densely populated areas such as King St and Prahran, violence and chaos still abound. However, the areas where there is one or 2 small bars per block are quiet and civil. The sheer size of the Melbourne CBD creates vast number of nooks and crannies for these to thrive.

Reducing the crowd density per venue is obvious, but I believe the real solution is reducing the overall density of punters. Pushing the geographical boundaries of the valley out would increase the square metres of street the police would need to patrol and almost certainly incense the residents of the surrounding suburbs, but at what price do we put on the violence and unrest. There are a number of areas that this shift could move towards.

  1. Remove the separation of “city” and “valley”, encouraging bars to reside at the southern end of Wickham St.
  2. Encourage bars to open along the waterfront between the Valley and the Eagle St pier
  3. Allowing bars to operate until 3 am along James St
  4. Managing the red light district stigma associated with the northern end of Brunswick St thus encouraging a higher quality of venue to open in that area

Drinking and Bars in Queenstown: A Definitive Guide

Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand (the Pacific? the Southern Hemisphere? the World?) Queenstown is a “must see” place in New Zealand. Aside from Bungy jumping, rafting, canyoning and jetboating it also has a pretty awesome bar and boozing culture. In fact, a lot of kiwis from all over make the trek down south purely for the party. Now, before you turn you away thinking it’s not for you, let me assure you there is something here for everyone.

There is basically 3 types of drinking establishment in Queenstown, Bars, Pubs and backpacker bars. That doesn’t sound like much but there is over 70 liquor licenses in the central business area and probably 30 of those are dedicated to drinking. If you can check out them all in a weekend then Monday morning would definitely be a struggle – infact Monday mornings in Queenstown are nearly always a struggle.


The pubs in Queenstown are the places that you go to when you want to kick back, have a sneaky pint or 3, and enjoy the scenery and the weather. Wether it’s by accident or design they are all positioned perfectly to get hours and hours of afternoon and evening sun during summer. The Pig & Whistle, Monty’s and Dux de Lux are the pick of the pubs and all are well worth the time, they all sell cheap pints and decent pub food. It’s worth mentioning that Dux de Lux brews all their own beer on the premises and it is very good. Personally I’m a fan of the Alpine Ale, but there is a flavour for everyone.

If you want a bit more of a “local” experience, try the Frankton Arm Tavern (in Frankton) or the Wakatipu Tavern. Both of them sell cheap grub, beer and feel exactly like your local.

Backpacker Bars

Calling these bars “Backpacker Bars” doesn’t really do them the justice they deserve. If you want to party, Winnies, Frasers, Altitude, Buffalo Club and the World Bar are the places to go. They are all huge places, sell cheap drinks, play cool music and all the tour buses full of people that just want to get loose. It’s best to not leave it too late in the evening to get there. Altitude and Buffalo Club are usually pumping around 10:30, World Bar doesn’t really start hitting it’s straps till midnight.

If you are planning on heading out to these places and you should, then there are always people wandering around town in the evening giving out 2 for 1 vouchers, hit them up for a few. It wouldn’t be a night out in Queenstown without some cheap jaegar bombs at Frasers, some horizontal bungy at Altitude, standing by the fire at the Buff and a teapot from the World. Teapot? It’s a tasty tasty cocktails served in a teapot with a few shot glasses, not really worth the money, but it’s a must do, you will be asked about it.


While people mainly think of Queenstown for the big party venues, in my mind it’s the tiny bars that make it. At 3am when the World Bar kicks everyone out on the street there are still places to drink and drink you will. Walking around during the day it’s easy to miss the multitude of tiny establishments but if you look hard enough they are everywhere. Bardeaux, Minibar, Barmuda and Bar-up are all down Searle Lane. They all have a massive range of beer, spirits or wine and will charge you a fortune for the pleasure. That’s not going to stop you though when it’s 4:30am, you are parched and they are the only places open.

Debajo and Tardis are both on Cow Lane and Skybar is just around the corner of Camp and Cow. Skybar is a swanky cocktail bar, where the staff are always friendly and will be happy to have a chat and a drink. Debajo is a tiki-style bar that always plays funky dance music. Tardis is the only place in town where you’ll hear good hip-hop maybe with the possibility of a live MC. If you are in town in May, make sure you checkout the Sugardaddy competition, it just might make your winter, or break your wallet.

The rest of the bars are scattered around the place, The Boiler Room and Minus 5 are in the wharf, Eichardts is on the water-front on Marine Parade, Sub-culture is underneath Montys and Harry’s Pool Bar is near Buffalo Club. Each of these places has it’s own attraction, Boiler Room plays the cheesiest of the 80s and 90s on the weekends, the locals love it so it’s usually pretty busy. Minus 5 is an ice bar, it’s pretty expensive but worth a look. Subculture is the closest to Queenstown’s only dance club, and the drum and bass pumps until the wee hours of the morning and Harry’s is the only place in town with more than a couple of pool tables. Finally, Eichardts is the house bar of an extremely exclusive hotel but the bar is open to all comers. The cocktail list is extensive, varied and made with the freshest of ingredients. Eichardts is my favourite bar in Queenstown, regardless of it being more expensive, closed after 11 and super-pretentious.


Come the end of the night you are going to be stumbling the streets looking for some sort of actual sustenance, something big, something greasy and something fast. There are 2 options, Fergburger and the Night and Day (the locals call it the 2-4.) Fergburger is an amazing gourmet burger place that sells expensive hamburgers which taste amazing and you will inhale with glee in a drunken stupor but, I recommend saving the Ferg until you are sober you will enjoy it more. The 2-4 sells all you need, deep fried lasagne, cordon bleu (whatever that is,) nachos, wedges and my personal favourite lamb shanks

That’s pretty much all there is to say about Queenstown, except for 1 bar. I’m not really sure where to classify it and even less sure what to say about it, but Chicos is a Queenstown institution. It’s been there as far as I can tell it’s been there forever and it wouldn’t surprise me if the same reggae/dub cover band has been playing for just as long. I’ve been going there for a year and a half and they haven’t changed their set. If you are in town, Chicos is upstairs on the mall and it’s the sort of place that you just might well stumble into having an awesome night at. Last time I checked they sold $2 beers between 10:30 and 11:30 every night, it’s definitely worth stopping in for one.

Getting Loose in Melbourne

I just spent 10 days in Melbourne, the first few just getting acquainted with the town and the following just smacking up the town like never before. The occasion of course was Australian University Games, this is a week long event of hitting the piss hard, waking up, playing sport and hitting the piss hard again. Needless to say, things sometimes things get a little out of hand.

It became pretty clear to us pretty quickly that there are 2 completely opposite types of pubs in Melbourne, those that take themselves too seriously and those that absolutely don’t. I can’t remember all of the places but CQ and the Queensbridge Hotel were shit. Both of these places were the Uni games sanctioned social venues however they were being exclusive in who they were letting in, only dribbling people into the venue and on Thursday night telling them that it was too late and they had been drinking for days so they couldn’t come in – regardless of wether they were too drunk or not.

Then at the other end of the spectrum there were heaps of smaller places that were awesomely accommodating to a mob of drunk uni students. At the top of the list is “Bev and Mick’s bar” in North Melbourne. This place hosted the mixed netball boat races and even though they shut early than we had hoped they really didn’t give a shit about what went on. The number of glasses that were smashed by people standing on the bar, the number of pissed people painted green and the fact that there was 130 of us in a place designed to fit about 80 all went down without a shadow of complaint.

The other bar that get’s my vote for being accommodating is a little place called “The Red Violin.” We happened upon this place at 3am after being kicked out of the Traffic bar on Federation Square, (which was also happy to let things get loose) the security at the Red Violin were happy to let anything happen as long as it didn’t affect anyone else. At one stage a bouncer woke up a sleeping guy, not to kick him out for sleeping but ask him to take his feet off the table. This isn’t to mention the ridiculous drunkenness, stupid attire or people spitting in each other’s faces. This was all capped off at the end of the week, on Friday night when the dress code had clearly been raised (people wearing suits) and the doorman still let us in, cause we were “cool”.

Hats off to the Red Violin, Bev and Mick’s and everywhere else that made our week grand.