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As well as cool coffee shops and boutique bakeries and shops, Melbourne’s alleys and laneways are awash with vibrant, world-class street art, which is a must see (as well as a welcome addition to your Instagram feed). The vast majority can be found in and around Melbourne CBD (where you’ll be amongst lots of other tourists taking pictures) but we’ve also included a couple of lesser well known areas so let us paint a picture for you…
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The most famous (but not necessarily best) example of street-art in Melbourne, we’d recommend you start here (it is also right next to Flinders St Station and Federal Square). With one main alley and several side streets (including Rutledge Lane – below) , Hosier Lane really seems to have changed over our last few visits, with more businesses popping up around the alley and a tinge of gentrification in the area.
And yes, it’ll be the busiest street-art setting you’ll find in the CBD, with selfie snapping tourists at every twist and turn. But it is also the best introduction, with every inch of wallspace covered by one form or artwork or another. You’ll also likely see artists at work – during our last visit, there were two at work, including one using a cherry picker working on a huge NBA basketball inspired piece.
A little less well known and close to Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane (named after the iconic Aussie rock group) allows a little more breathing space and also plays host to Cherry Bar, one of Melbourne’s best little watering holes and live music venue – much of the artwork around here is music inspired as a result.
We had always presumed that this was part of Hosier Lane, but it is fact a separate alley with its own identity, most recognisable by its spray painted wheelie bins (extreme camouflage!). It became more famous several years ago when the entire alley’s street art was painted over in blue to start afresh, and provide street artist with barely an unpainted spot in sight.
Compared to the first two areas we mentioned, we don’t really think Caledonian Lane is worth the trek away from Hosier Lane and AC/DC Lane. Tiny in size compared to the previous sites, it can be found close to Queen Victoria Market and is a very dirty and possibly unsanitary lane – we arrived and found an strewn sanitary bin right by the entrance-way as well as a pile of sh*t.
Post visit, we’ve read this was the birthplace of well known ‘St Jerome’s Laneway Festival’ but we wouldn’t have had a inkling from how it looks (and smells) now. There seems to be a fast turnover of artwork here, and it just doesn’t have the same aesthetically appeal as other areas.
Fitzroy / Collingwood
Less well known than the regular Melbourne CBD street art haunts, the streets around Fitzroy and Collingwood host a large number of huge murals and street-art. Maybe given the lower density and larger urban canvases, the artwork here is allowed to ‘breathe’ and feels less claustrophobic than the laneways in the city.
The best way to explore this area is actually without a map and see what you discover. Two areas we would recommend are along Moor Street, between Fitzroy Library and Smith Street (the rhino piece, pictured is a fave) plus the side-streets around Brunswick Street.
The tallest mural in the southern hemisphere – Collingwood
Australia’s (and the southern hemisphere’s) largest mural can also be found in the Collingwood area. The 20 storey tall mural by Matt Adnate depicts four Collingwood housing estate residents, all from various parts of the world, whose portraits are now painted on the side of a block of flats in one of Melbourne’s largest housing estates.
FURTHER READING – 20 of the best street art cities in the world
Check out our other down under blog posts:
- Melbourne on a budget – cheap and free things to do
- 20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try
- The ultimate guide to Queenstown, New Zealand
- Top things to do in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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