A chronology of lesbian and gay communities, movements, and venues in Sydney









1960 - 1966























































Australian society in the late 1960s was hostile to homosexuals or, at least, its institutions were. The Law treated gay men as criminals who could be locked away for 14 years for the “abominable crime of buggery”, and the police were active in trying to prosecute them.

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Coming Out Into a Hostile World

Francesca (Chesca) Curtis's television appearance on The Bailey File, a Melbourne-based current affairs programme on commercial television TV's Channel 9, in May or June 1970, speaking about the aims of the Australian Lesbian Movement was arguably Australia's first "coming out" in the media.

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Australia's First National Coming Out

Homosexual/transgender social groups began forming in the early 1960s in Sydney. They offered membership of a discreet “camp” organisation. Their dances provided the perfect stage for Sydney’s new amateur drag scene to flourish and a place for men and women to meet up and find Miss or Mr Right – at least for the night. In the Leichhardt area, there was no shortage of public halls for these groups.

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Leichhardt/Dykehardt Exhibition

Male homosexual acts are no longer criminal in NSW – the law was amended in 1984, and ‘gay’ men can live quite open lives, with a range of venues where they can socialize in ways similar to their heterosexual counterparts. Also, the two worlds now softly collide, with gays and straights mixing together quite easily in many places in Sydney’s inner suburbs.

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And The Beats Go On...

The following people participated in the first Mardi Gras and/or the related events . While every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, the list could include errors and omissions. Some names are also likely to be the arrestees' aliases.

78ers Honour Roll


In 1970, the Gay and Lesbian movement(s) was born in Australia. It was typified most recognisably by 'Coming Out'.

Though not born of the G&L sub-cultures of Sydney and the other major cities, the growth of increasingly overt sub-cultures in inner ring suburbs, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, was fertile ground for political awareness and activism.

It took much of the decade however, and the novely of a dedicated gay press and media, at first commercial but later community based, for the sub-culture and the political activists to lose their suspicion of each other and become a single force.

G&L issues finally got onto the mainstream political agenda - in a good way.


1970s venues

Most of these camp/gay/lesbian venues are named in Garry Wotherspoon’s Gay Sydney: A History NewSouth Publishing (2016) (GW) and slotted into the decades he allocates them. References are also made to his book, Being Different Hale and Iremonger 1986.

 Sex on premises venues. Main reference has been Jason Prior’s thesis Sydney gay saunas 1967-2000: fight for civic acceptance and experiences beyond the threshold.

You might find these useful as well

  • Rebecca Jennings Unnamed Desires: a Sydney lesbian history Monash University Publishing 2015
  • Gavin Harris and John Witte Camp Nites 2006 Pride History Group
  • Prue McSween I’m Not That Kind of Girl: Carlotta  MacMillan 2003
  • Ken (Kandy) Johnson, Editor Gavin Harris Kandy what a drag! Self published 2009
  • Rebecca Jennings and Sandra MacKay Out and About Pride History Group 2009
  • SD Harvey The Ghost of Ludwig Gertsch Macmillan 2000
  • Stallion magazine. From Issue 1 July 1973

a. 1970 - 1975 venues

Restaurants, coffee shops

Adonis Coffee Lounge

Hughes Street, Kings Cross. “Good food reasonable prices. Open till very late.”


252 Campbell Parade, Bondi Junction. Open until 11:30pm. Surfies.

Vadim’s Restaurant

Set up by Vadim Kargopoloff in the early 60s at 12 Challis Avenue, Potts Point, this was a late night bar, “where the brandy came in coffee cups after a certain time of night…” (PHG Oral History Interview 060704 JFB)


Carlton Hotel/Carlton Rex (Dugout Bar)

At 56 Castlereagh Street, Sydney the Carlton was close by other hotels popular with homosexuals in the City in the 1930s. The telephone directory lists this hotel in 1950 and for Adrian Dixon in Being Different it was among the “gayest bars mid-week”. It was renamed the Carlton Rex Hotel in 1958. The Boomerangs Social Group was formed in the Dugout Bar in 1967.

Chevron Hotel (Quarter Deck Bar)

Situated at 81 Macleay Street, Potts Point, this was favourite drinking spot for naval sailors and camps. Upstairs in the Cocktail Bar actors like Gordon Chater held court. (PHG Oral History Interview 050719 AK)

Cricketer’s Arms

Established in 1973 at 106 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills, it had a DJ and a restaurant. Remembered as a women’s venue. (PHG Oral history interview 090706 SM). It closed around 1984.

Hotel Rex (Front Bar/Back Bar/Bottoms Up Bar)

Listed in the 1955 telephone directory at 58 Macleay Street, Potts Point, but with a homosexual clientele before this. (GW Interview with George D June 1980) The Bar continued on as a gay venue with a “good commercial scene” until it closed in 2001 to be converted into apartments. “Busy all day. Best in evening. Food reasonable. Some commercial trade.”

Park Inn Hotel

This was the pub that Ken Kandy Johnson next took over in 1970  at 88 Oxford Street, Woollahra near Centennial Park. Queenie Paul on Mondays attracted lots of lesbians. (Ken (Kandy) Johnson Kandy what a drag! 2011)

Sussex Hotel

Located at the corner of Sussex and Liverpool Streets, Sydney the clientele were mainly women and Friday was “girls night”. (PHG Oral History Interview 081204 RM). Closed for redevelopment in the mid 1980s, a women’s disco was still advertised as late as  January 1983.

Town Hall Hotel

Located at 530 George Street (corner Park and George Streets) it was a venue to pick up men in the 1950s (Pride History Group Oral History Collection 050902 KG) and was last advertised as a gay venue in 1981.

Bars, Clubs and discos

Aquarius Club

Macabean Hall, Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst. Every Friday. Top groups and solo artists.

Barrel Inn

Listed in the 1973 phone directory at 12 Challis Avenue Potts Point (See Vadims) it was the watering hole for the Roo Bike Club and one of the first venues to enter a float in the Mardi Gras parade. It closes in 1981. “Open until midnight. Food good and reasonable prices. Bikies occasionally. Good for pick up.”


The Krystal Pistol is transformed into Capers at 14 Quay Street Haymarket in 1975. No other information available.

Capriccio’s aka International Vanities

Operating at 163 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst from 1969 to March 1982.  It was an “international style” night club, with shows on two floors, a disco and cruising bars. It was initially owned by Majorie Hathaway and Dawn O’Donnell and later Allan Mills. Tommy Brown was the last owner. ““re-opening late November early December 1973 (after fire). Excellent shows. Opens until 3am.”

Carousel Club

2c Roslyn Street, Kings Cross. Formerly Les Girls VIP Club. Stallion notes “Gay Carousel” had its opening before Christmas 1973 and Judy Burnett and Bernard performed, Pearl was the MC”.


Around 1974, the Il Castello Restaurant transfers to 2 Kellett Street, Kings Cross and Rod Stringer operates it until 1976. His publication Campaign operated from the second floor from late 1975. He sold Castellos to John McLean in 1976.

Chez Ivy Wine Bar

Around 1962, the owner, Ivy Richter was convinced to turn the run down wine bar at 101 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, into a camp friendly place and it quickly became a Sydney institution. It probably closed in the early to mid 1970s. “Wine bar. Open until 10pm. Drag. Occasional show. Good atmosphere. Mixed but understanding”.

Curry House

Is this Kellyons – 383 George Street, Sydney? “Ivy (Richter) has taken over the Curry House from Pat and John Kelly, but ... (it) has closed its doors much to the desperate attempts of Kandy to keep the place alive.”

Enzo’s Wine Bar then Traffic Light

This small venue at 242 Oxford Street Paddington (opposite Paddington Town Hall) was staging sophisticated drag performances in 1963. It then became Enzo’s named after its manager and had a friendly inviting atmosphere. (PHG Oral History Interview 160323 RH) “Wine bar. Open until 10pm. Younger crowd. Good atmosphere with patio.”


More information is required on this Jimmy Fishburn venture which operated briefly on Bayswater Road in the 1970s. Billy Goodwin was a pianist and it was a venue for actors and drag performers until 3am.

Fookes 130

New South Head Road, Darling Point. “A fabulous place to eat and relax. Homely floorshow Thursday to Sunday. “Pick Me Up” bar and disco upstairs. Closes midnight.”


108 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach. “Excellent show Thursday to Sunday. Open until 3am. Dancing.”

Il Castello Restaurant

Established at 22 Rockwell Crescent, Potts Point by Rod Stringer, Rod Needham and Lionel Parsons it operated for 18 months from 1971/1972 to 1973. Super-elegant new club. Open until midnight,but 3am licence applied for.Good food. Very busy. Dancing to band at weekends


Located in Day Street, Sydney (PHG Oral History Interview 50923 DF) this was a cabaret venue in the 70s.

Jays or J’s Bar

194 Victoria Street, Kings Cross. “Formerly ‘Wanted Man’ under new ownership. Western style bar. Licensed to midnight. Good food and floorshow.” “... has once again attempted to capture the Kamp Trade by putting on a drag show, produced by John Barry”.

Jools Restaurant

This was a classy theatre restaurant leaning toward the homosexual market, established in 1973 at a two storey building at 121 Crown Street, East Sydney by Dawn O’Donnell and Roger Claude Teyssedre. (SD Harvey The Ghost of Ludwig Gertsch 2000) It closed around 1979. “International standard in decor and service. Open until 3 am. Fabulous food and busy bar.”

Kandy’s Krystal Pistol

This was a short lived Ken Kandy Johnson venture around 1974 -1975 at 14 Quay Street, Haymarket with Ivy Richter. It had intended to cater for the Her Majesty’s Theatre crowd.

Les Girls Restaurant  - VIP Lounge and the Carousel Club

Opening in 1963 this up market drag show venue was listed in the 1964 telephone directory at 2c Roslyn Street, Kings Cross. It was owned and operated by Sammie Lee and Reg Boom and in 1974 (or 1973), Les Girls moved to 11 Oxford Street, Paddington while the Carousel Club opened in 2c Roslyn Street. By September 1980, Les Girls was operating at Roslyn Street.

Midas Club

432 Parramatta Road, Petersham. Last listing November 1973.

Taxi Club aka the Grosvenor Club

Listed in the 1948 telephone directory, but in 1956 the Club lodged a development proposal to use 40 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst as a taxi drivers’ social club. In the 1960s it was described as “a bloodbath, a mix of bohemians, criminals, drag queens and plumbers”. (PHG Oral History Collection No. 050908 DW)

Male sex on premises venues

253 Sauna

This sauna opened in 1973 and closed in 1988. It was owned by Neil Taylor and operated from 253 Oxford Street, Paddington. (Jason Prior)

Bondi Junction Steam Baths aka Viking Sauna, Health Studio etc then The Pits

Sydney’s first camp/gay sauna at 109 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, was owned by Dawn O’Donnell.  It is listed as Viking Sauna in the telephone directory and in March 1980 it was renamed The Pits. It is destroyed by fire in September 1980. (Jason Prior thesis Sydney gay saunas 1967-2000: fight for civic acceptance and experiences beyond the threshold)

Ken’s Baths

Ken Kandy Johnson’s first foray into steam baths (1971 to 1972) was located at 97 Belmore Road, Randwick. Upstairs it had a licensed gym to which he added a sauna and a steam room. (PHG Oral History Interview 051126 KJJ) (Jason Prior)

Ken’s Karate Klub aka Kensington Karate Klasses

Established by Ken Kandy Johnson in 1972 (see Jason Prior) at 83 – 85 Anzac Parade Kensington (see Purple Onion) by transferring his sauna licence from Ken Baths. The design was based on steams baths he has seen in Muslim countries. After a number of owners, remakes and renames it closed in 2012. (SSO April 2012) “Party of the Year must truely go to Kandy’s Pool Party at the New Purple Onion at Kensington” (January 1974 or December 1973)

King Steam

Opened at 127 King Street, Sydney by Roger Claude Teyssedre in 1974, it remained there until 1979. (Jason Prior)

Updated: John Witte 23 September 2016 



1970 Chronology


If not in Sydney


28 January 1970


A Branch of the US lesbian group, the Daughters of Bilitis is formed.

5 March 1970


A small group from the Humanist Society and the Council of Civil Liberties attempt to form a Homosexual Law Reform Committee.

27 May 1970


The Federal Attorney-General Tom Hughes advocates homosexual law reform in an address to the Australian Council of Social Services.

28 May 1970


NSW Attorney-General rejects homosexual law reform.

30 June 1970


The newspaper reports of gay liberation marches in the USA to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riot.

July 1970


John Ware and Christobell Poll make the decision to form an openly homosexual group after checking their legal status with representatives of the Council for Civil Liberties. The group is to be called the Campaign Against Moral Persecution Incorporated (or CAMP Inc).

August 1970


The South Pacific Motor Club is formed.

31 August 1970    


The Labor Party leader Gough Whitlam calls for homosexual law reform at the Labor Women's Conference.

10 September 1970


John Ware and Christabel Poll announce the formation of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) In The Australian newspaper and on television.

15 September 1970


The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Australia votes in favour of homosexual law reform.

19 September 1970


Australian publishes Couples about John Ware, Christabel Poll, their partners, and CAMP.

21 September 1970


John Ware is interviewed on the ABC-TV program This Day Tonight.

13 October 1970


The Gay Liberation Front is formed.

1 November 1970


CAMP Ink, the first homosexual magazine in Australian is published

17 November 1970    


John Ware and Christobell Poll invite a select group of supporters to a meeting to discuss the future of CAMP Inc.

Updated: 14/07/2015