Many visitors to Canberra wonder where people go for nightlife, because there are so few licensed hotels and relatively few other nightspots. For many locals, the answer is in the licensed clubs. These are to be found throughout the city and welcome visitors – you don’t need to be a member, but you will need to register on entry to comply with the local licensing laws. Many clubs feature entertainers or dance halls, though the entertainment often requires pre-booking. Typically the restaurants offer quite reasonable food providing some of the best value meals you will find.
We recently visited the Southern Cross Club in Tuggeranong for a friend’s wedding reception: overall this is a fairly typical club. Once you check in at the entry foyer, you have a choice of gaming rooms (endless poker machines), restaurants or function rooms.
The following address and phone details are for the Southern Cross Club, but I have listed below the websites for several of Canberra’s main licensed clubs (NB – most of these clubs operate at several venues):
Southern Cross Club
Canberra Labor Club
Hellenic Club of Canberra
Canberra Tradesmen’s Union Club
Main Photo Tuggeranong Southern Cross Club
Second Photo Foyer area
Third Photo Bistro area with poker machine rooms in the distance
Fourth Photo The function room.
Dress Code: Usually 'smart casual' will do.
A night at the Mawson club was supposed to be a special event. Visting from Sydney we were not permitted entry to the club unless we were signed in by a member. We had to become members for this one occasion. We believe this is not the same as Sydney and other States where a visitor may sign in as a visitor provided they can prove they live outside the 5km radius. However we then proceeded to the cafe to have a meal. We moved tables three times to be clear of children screaming and crying. Our meal was served and shortly afterward we experienced at least 12 barefooted children running riot all around the dining area. No restriction was placed on them by anybody. I approached a duty officer and complained and he commented that they were allowed to be barefoot in their play area. I said this is still the play area ? he seemed a bit taken back and I commented that I hoped the Club's Insurance was up to date. Finally I felt that the licencing laws to enter the club were hypocritical of the beahviour allowed once inside the club,i.e. allowing bare feet in an area other than where specified, namely the children's playground.
Canberra may lack in atmosphere when it comes to nitelife. But a club called Lot33 in Kingston is the only place to party if you love funky house music. The DJs there are underground locals who showcase a rare art of house mixing that has never been beaten in my experience of dance. Not that thats saying alot.
If your into rock, R&B or top 40 I have no recommendations because I dont relate to the stuff.
Dress Code: Just be funky and you'll be fine
All Saints Wine Bar, in 36 Alourere st. Braddon.
All Bar Nun, 1 McPherson st. O'Connor.
I personally haven't been to any nightspots in Canberra, but I have been told by friends that these are popular.
King O'Malley Irish Pub. In my eyes it is not a real Irish pub because its only popular music they play. Only the outlook is Irish. But it's a very nice place to sit outside on the terrace during the day. In the evening you will find more snobs like doctors, lawyers and diplomats. All serious people till they get drunk and do much crazier then average people ;-)
King O'Malley's has a wide range of imported & locally brewed beers to choose from, including Guinness, Harp, Kilkenny, Caffreys, James Squire, Hahn Premium Light, Carlton Draught, Tooheys Old & New, and VB on tap. The pub also has a selection of meals and light snacks to choose from - day or night; from simple tempters such as Wicklow Wedges with sweet chili sauce, Beef & Guinness pies (yes - you can taste the Guinness!) or Tiperary Fillet Steaks - just to name a few.
I don't know, and neither do they I guess. There is no dress code during the day, but in the evening they may. The problem is that from the one security guard your clothes are fine and by another not. Very strange when you are with friends and one of you have to go out for something and you can't get in anymore because of your clothing. They don't have a sign with dress code outside either. I just guess they don't know themselves ;-)
PJ O'Reilly's. PJ's is one of the Irish theme pubs Canberra has to offer for those feeling nostalgic or just keen to experience that Irish atmosphere. Of course, PJ's is the place to go if you feel like a pint of Guinness (what I always want) but they have also other Irish beers on tap. You can grab a meal and catch some live, often Irish-flavoured, music. O'Reilly's is big on theme nights and St Patrick's Day at PJ's is one of the most crowded sites in Canberra.
Two separated bars, a smokers and no smokers place, make it enjoyable for all of us. The staff is also much nicer here then in King O'Malley Irish pub.
Casual but neat.
It was only 10 months ago when I last visited Canberra and I was now really surprised that the nightlife had changed so much. Before it was a dead city during the week, now it is a sparkling centre during the evenings. Although it just youth you see at the first sight, other pubs with adults are full as well. Its still so if you go to a disco (most they call them 'clubs') is that you have to be a member or pay entry fee between A$ 5 and A$ 15. Especially on special days like New Years Eve you have to pay in almost every bar and mostly not cheap. They do this to keep the very young people (with just a little money) outside. Drinking and partying in the streets is then also not a strange sight; and it is really sad to see how this youth make a mess out of town. On the other hand the city cleaning do a great job that you don't see anything from it anymore in the morning. I think one of the reasons why it has become so busy and bustling with life is that new bars and eateries with outdoor seating's have opened up. The most popular one is King O'Malley's (see further). Also young prostitutes showing up in the street scene. As in the most Capital cities, also here you find a lot of snobs. Don't have sense for drinking? There is still the cinema in the centre (and also one in Manuka) and even going to the theatre is an option.
My favorite pub is an Irish one. 'Café Phoenix' and of course they have great Guinness. I always ask a pint or 6 of it ;-)
Almost everyday they play live music, most of the time by the clients, but at the weekends there is always a band playing.
As long you're not nude is everything fine ;-) Only rules: no bare feet's because of glass on the ground.
For a unique experience to see the 'Aussie' at their best go to Mooseheads or South Pac. They may not be the best clubs but they have to be seen to be believed.
At ICBM yes, everyone can see you from the street if you dance near the front so don't try anything too embarrassing!
Jackson is good for a bit of Karaoke or retro fun.
South Pac is a regular hangout for quite a few uni students and people from the Pacific islands. The huge bouncers are scary looking and fighting is a regular occurence. Mooseheads also draws alot of uni students, most of whom come from country areas. Downstairs at Moose the music is generally very macho.
Dress Code: For Moose, you will probably fit in best wearing riding boots and a flanny in the downstairs section!
Fun, relaxed atmosphere, amongst very smart crowds. Canberra has a bit of a reputation for being a bit drab as far as nightlife is concerned. However, I have found that the pubs in the inner city areas can be quite fun, as there are a lot of professionals, uni students and public servants who are living in Canberra away from their families, so they are young, or young at heart. Canberrans are also a pretty friendly bunch, and they always see the lighter side of living in such a 'false' city. There is a special bus that goes around a lot of the pubs in the night time - so it is a really good way of getting about and not having to worry about how much you are drinking.
On a Wednesday night, I was wandering through the centre of Canberra when I spotted this pub with quite a large crowd inside. I went in and found that a '101 Night' was featuring local bands, poets and singers. The quality of the entertainment was excellent and esoteric. It was one of those unforgettable nights that appear out of the blue. The Guinness here was very tasty. Top marks indeed!
Dress Code: As arty as possible. Otherwise casual will do.
Went in one bar in town called The Phoenix, was dead quiet so ended up in the South Pacific Rubgy club for a late beer. Was dead! i think Canberra is one of those places when the students are here, its quiet!
King O'Malley's Irish Pub was fun when I went there... It's usually very full and has people from all over the world...I've met people from France, Greece etc there...
So much fun right in the middle of the city - but watch out for all those dodge uni students (especially Johns kids!) ; )
Dress Code: nice but casual