News – A Queer Guide to the Biennale

It’s not too late to explore the gorgeously queer Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) which will be open until 22 October.

There’s no doubt about it, BIFB has a little something for everyone including the LGBTIQA+ community. That includes first-time exhibitions from queer artists, iconic photos of community members from international photographers, and world-class installations set in Ballarat’s historic precincts and laneways.

One of the things we love about the Biennale is that it showcases the best of Ballarat experiences and provides a great excuse for you to make a day or a weekend of it, delving into the exceptional BIFB programming as well as all the queer-friendly local favourites that Ballarat has to offer.

For those coming from outside of town, we suggest a cheeky day trip or making a weekend of it. Ballarat is home to one of the largest LGBTIQA+ communities in Victoria. We love it here because we get the best of both worlds. A slower pace of life in beautiful settings and an excellent array of art, food, and local favourites that the queer community love.

So, forget the weekend market in St Kilda or brunch in Fitzroy. Come and see the Biennale and treat yourselves in stunning Ballarat.


People Power – Platon

Daily 10am – 5pm, Art Gallery of Ballarat

This exhibition has premiered at the Biennale and is filled with amazing portraits of queer lady favourites like Cate Blanchett. That alone is surely worth the price of entry.

But seriously, British portrait and documentary photographer Platon’s work is moving and powerful, capturing some of the world’s most famous people in new and unique ways. He has photographed world leaders, rockstars and artists capturing them in his intense and authentic style.

People Power – Platon

Golden Monkey

Daily until 22 October 2023, 4 Lydiard St South, Ballarat Central (outdoors)


And it wouldn’t be a visit to the Biennale without seeing Lisa Roet’s radiant Golden Monkey sculpture which takes the form of the endangered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey with its distinct upturned face and long tail. The nine-metre monkey can be spotted clinging to the National Centre for Photography building on the corner of Lydiard Street South and Bath Lane. As you head to or from this wonder, we suggest a coffee at Cobb’s Coffee just down the block on Lydiard Street.

Queer artists abound

The Biennale has a proud history of queer content and this year is no different.

You’ll find some spectacular photography of and by queer people like:

  • Kyle Archie Knight – Cruising for a Bruising is a camp love letter to the Australian suburbs. This is a ticketed event at the Mining exchange.
  • William Yang – Claiming Heritage is a depiction of him accepting his identity as a gay Chinese Australian. You’ll find William’s works at the Ballarat Chinese Library.
  • Telly Tuita – Tongpop Pantheon delves into his complex relationship with his ancestral home, challenging idealised notions of the Pacific Islands and cultural identity. You can find Telly’s work on the corner of Sturt and Lydiard Street as well as the Good’s Shed.
  • Andy Warhol – Instant Warhol is a collection of polaroid photographs of people in the spotlight in the 70s and 80s including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mick Jagger, Dolly Parton and Liza Minelli. Warhol is a queer icon in and of himself and these intimate polaroids are not to be missed. Warhol is a ticketed event at the Ballarat Art Gallery.
  • Natalie Edge – Queer Em’body’ment Queer photographer Natalie Edge has three pieces of her work on display at the Biennale this year. The Queer Em’body’ment Series explores negative space and composition through a Queer lens, working with Queer models. You can see Natalie’s work at the Acorn and Oak Apothecary at 46 Armstrong Street North in Ballarat Central.


Peter Sparkman’s Humans of Ballarat

You can visit this exhibition from 9am – 3pm on Monday and 9am – 8pm Tuesday to Thursday and 9am – 9pm Friday and Saturday until 21 of October, 131 Sturt St, Ballarat Central (indoors)


Did you know that Ballarat is home to the fifth largest LGBTIQA+ community in Victoria? Humans of Ballarat captures the interesting faces of people in Ballarat and surrounds. It’s a visual insight into their lives, loves and interactions.

This exhibition by local LGBTIQA+ community member Peter Sparkman, we suggest you grab a beverage downstairs at P. Frangos & Sons (131 Sturt Street, Ballarat) and make yourself comfortable. As someone who has been carefully documenting queer events and moments around queer communities for many years, it’s almost an informal queer and trans history of many of the queer pride events including Darwin Pride, Chillout Festival, Frolic Festival and the most recent Trans Day of Visibility hosted by the City of Ballarat.


We’ve got lots of local queer favourites and recommend you add the following places to your weekend or day trip itinerary:

  • Mitchell Harris Wines – delicious small plates in an inclusive and warm environment that’ll add a little touch of romance to your weekend.
  • The Forge Pizzeria – is popular with the queer community for friend catch-ups and dates and a place for the best wood-fired pizza in the state.
  • If you’re up in time for breakfast, we recommend walking the outdoor exhibitions with a sourdough chocolate croissant from artisan bakery the 1816 bakehouse. They also do great coffee.
  • Distilleries – we can’t just name one. Ballarat is home to some beautiful new distilleries including Itinerant Spirits, Red Duck Brewery and Distillery, Aunty Jacks, Grainery Lane, Kilderkin Distillery for more beer and spirits than you can imagine.
  • Saltbush Kitchen is a little off the beaten track. But call through here for gorgeous bush foods and ingredients. There’s always a fresh batch of tea and if you’re there on a Saturday, you’ll be able to enjoy some Kittelty’s Cakes. They’re both businesses that support our community, so it’d be great to support them. #EatTheBush



Andy Warhol, Self-portrait in Drag, 1980 © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Artists Rights Society [ARS]/Copyright Agency, 2023

Kyle Archie Knight, untitled from the series Cruising for a Bruising, 2022