Melbourne is famous for its hidden laneways, which not only play host to some of the city’s best bars, shops and cafes but also to some of the best street art on the planet. Melbourne was one of the first cities in the world to embrace ‘urban art’ and despite some controversy its spray painted walls and laneway murals have become a big part of its cultural identity. Tourists now flock from all over the world to admire Melbourne’s ‘outdoor galleries’ and the city walls have been graced by the work of numerous famous graffiti artists such as Fafi, Invader and Banksy.
Although you never have to go far to find urban art in Melbourne, the majority of approved painted walls are located within the inner city and can all be visited in one afternoon. I’ve rounded up my favorite laneways to see art below, with a few photos of my favorite pieces. Of course, the beauty of urban art is that it is ever-changing, so what I saw yesterday might be completely different to what you will stumble upon tomorrow. One thing is for sure though, you will always find something amazing to look at…
♥ Hosier lane
Located opposite Federation Square, Hosier Lane is Melbourne’s number 1 spot for street art lovers. The walls are bursting at the seams with art pieces ranging from stencils to stickers, to lightboxes, post-its…you name it. Even the rubbish bins are covered with graffiti! Because there is so much to see, walking down the street can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. The key is to not only look at the big pieces but to also take the time to explore the street’s nooks and crannies. There are plenty of little gems to be found everywhere such as the tiny dancer stencil I found hidden behind a rubbish bin.
♥ AC/DC lane & Duckboard Place
A little further east of Hosier lane you’ll find AC/DC lane (named after the famous Australian rock band) and Duckboard place. These lanes (which join at the back) feature a couple of beautiful murals as well as some very interesting paste-up pieces. Above you, you’ll also see an impressive shoe collection hanging from power cables. When I visited, the rock&roll inspired pieces and the famous Banksy rats had long been painted over but who’s to say they won’t be back soon?
♥ Union Lane
Although Union Lane is located right opposite two major department stores on Bourke st it would be really easy to miss it because it is so conspicuous and narrow. The street doesn’t boast any hip bars and cafes either, just amazing art! I saw plenty of pieces that I wish I could have taken home with me (so to speak) but the little note that said ‘if you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen’ particularly resonated with me.
♥ Little La Trobe Street (in the loop opposite Literature lane)
I actually found this laneway whilst trying to find the Melbourne Artist Supplies’ feature wall, which is now unfortunately defunct. I was ready to walk away when the picture of a giant rabbit caught my attention across the road and I discovered this little treasure of a street. Although the lane isn’t very big, it features lots of beautiful pieces which I suspect might be the work of the RMIT art students next door. Each art lane has its own ‘vibe’ in a way and where ACDC and Hosier lanes felt a bit more ‘gritty’ this alleyway seemed a little more gentle and poetic.
♥ Other streets worth a look
If you can’t enough of street art and are keen to discover even more artwork then how about also checking out the following inner city spots:
- Degraves St & Center place (Before the cafes open)
- Caledonian lane (behind Little Bourke st) – although half the street is currently under construction there are still a few gems to be found in there
- Finlay ave (behind 280 Queen st)