Street art became popular in Melbourne in the 1980s after a visit of Keith Haring who painted several murals in the city. Inspired by this American artist, Melburnians started tagging trains and walls in laneways, narrow streets tucked away from people’s eyes. The rapid development of street art in Melbourne made its urban scene culturally important and well recognised. As a consequence, graffiti artists known all over the world were increasingly coming to Melbourne to leave a mark on the walls. This is how it all got started!
You can notice a variety of street art in Melbourne. Letter-based aerosol graffiti, neatly painted portraits, paper works glued to the wall (paste-ups), colorful stickers, fancy tiles, eccentric frames and installations. Within next 20 years, Melbourne has gained international acclaim for its diversity of street art which contributes to the urban city vibe. What’s more, some laneways such as Hosier Lane and AD/DC Lane, became so popular that they are now a tourist attraction. These two locations are a must-see for all visitors.
Street art in Melbourne changes as quickly as traffic lights at Flinders Station. Laneways are going through constant transformation, and they never look the same. The city is vibrant, dynamic, intense and you have an opportunity to discover it every day, as if you were here for the first time again. Have you been wondering where to go to admire the best street art in Melbourne? In this blog post, I’m going to share with you some iconic places that all street art fans should visit in Melbourne. Let me be your guide today.
MELBOURNE: STREET ART – MAP
This street art walking tour consists of three parts. It’s up to you if you want to keep it short or not necessarily. Just click on the map and you will get the full view of the street art walking tour and a list of places that are described below. It may take you a couple of hours to do the entire walk.
If you are staying in Melbourne for a while, you may be interested in taking a day walk nearby the city or a bit shorter one on Saturday afternoon. If you enjoy outdoor activities, make sure to check my list of walking tracks near Melbourne. You don’t have to travel too far to spend some time in nature.
HOSIER LANE & RUTLEDGE LANE
This place doesn’t need any introduction. Hosier Lane is a world-famous street art destination. The first mural was painted here in 1998. Given that you can see artists painting walls in Hosier Lane almost every day, it’s hard to believe that street art is illegal in Melbourne. Seriously. Street art is unlawful in a city where almost all buildings are covered with paintings. Personally, Hosier Lane is one of my favourite laneways in Melbourne, because it never looks the same. New pieces of art are created here on a daily basis.
The most stunning street art in Melbourne is very often hidden in short, narrow streets. Here’s an example of that. Walk towards AC/DC Lane, turn left on Russell Street and then stop for a while on Beaney Lane. You will find here some interesting pieces of art. It’s very easy to miss this location, isn’t it?
I have this feeling that Higson Lane hasn’t been noted as a street art worthy place in Melbourne yet. I think that this particular laneway got covered with paintings quite recently, hence, it’s not popular yet. It’s on your way to AC/DC Lane, so you should definitely give it a go. Walk down Higson Lane and admire murals and street art stickers. Just have a look at the below pictures. These pieces of art are pretty cool, right?
AC/DC LANE & DUCKBOARD PLACE
Corporation Lane. This is how this place was called at the very beginning. In 2004, it was renamed as a tribute to the Australian legendary rock band, AC/DC. It was launched with the following words: “As the song says, there is a highway to hell, but this is a laneway to heaven. Let us rock“. In fact, the rock vibe is very strong here. You can notice a Bon Scott’s sculpture on the wall (the original vocalist for AC/DC) facing a painting of Malcolm Young. Unfortunately, the famous mural with Angus Young is no longer there.
The rock vibe of AC/DC Lane is not only associated with one of the best bands of all time. It’s also related to the Cherry Bar, a popular after-party venue for touring rock stars. AC/DC Lane was housing the Cherry Bar until the end of 2018. Although Lady Gaga is more of a pop artist, she truly loved this place too. Can you believe that she happened to dance on the bar in her underwear? Photos from this crazy night are still on the Internet. Try to google it! This could have been you, dancing with drunk Gaga on the bar that night!
Once you finish strolling around AC/DC Lane, turn left on Exhibition Street and drop by Strachan Lane. This is a short, narrow street full of great works. Make sure not to miss it. These hidden pieces of art are absolutely beautiful and they look very realistic. It’s difficult to choose the best one, right?
It’s a real jungle with wild animals, tropical plants and a waterfall! This is how the building at an intersection of Meyers Place and Bourke Street looks like. It’s one of the largest and most colorful murals in Melbourne with extremely distinct details. The whole commission took around a week to paint and it was a part of a project called “Green your laneway”. Personally, one of my favourite bits of Melbourne’s street art.
From Meyers Place, get back to Little Collins Street and walk towards Russell Street. On the right, there will be Coromandel Place. Another laneway worth a visit in Melbourne. Here you can find murals of the following artists: Ghostpatrol and Al Stark. They show the reality of today’s world. Interesting, right?
One of the best examples of unique street art in Melbourne. The urban myth says that this piece of art was created in Presgrave Place overnight. No one knows by whom! The entire wall is now decorated with a variety of different items such as frames, pictures, stickers. Take your time and have a look at the elements attached to the wall. In the top left corner, you can notice a globe saying “The world is ours”. How cool is that? Street art is all over Presgrave Place so I’m pretty sure you will find something interesting here.
Not far from Presgrave Place, there is a laneway full of street art stickers. A walk down this laneway is a must. Once you reach the end of Carson Place, turn left and look up. You will see an amazing lion mural. My theory is proven again… the best street art in Melbourne is well hidden! Do you agree?
Union Lane is entirely covered with letter-based aerosol graffiti, and it runs between Bourke Street and Little Collins Street. You can get a vibe that this laneway changes very quickly. Take some pictures here and come back after a couple of days. I can guarantee that the walls won’t look familiar anymore. Walking down the laneway, look up every once in a while. Have you noticed shoes hanging from power lines? Do you know what does it mean? Apparently, a drug dealer is nearby! At least this is what Google told me.
I do love this place! Tettersalls Lane is incredible, bright and full of graffiti. What’s more, there are some bars with a unique atmosphere (Section 8 and Ferdydurke). It’s a good opportunity to take a break, sip a drink or even have lunch in Chinatown, a liveable street close to Tettersalls Lane. Chinatown is full of cheap and delicious dining options. You may notice some interesting murals there too. Keep your eyes peeled!
This street art is insane. Keep your head up! Caledonian Lane is notable not only for giant murals but also for the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival that has its origin exactly here. This festival was initially organised in Melbourne and became rapidly popular. As a consequence, it was also held in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle, Auckland and even in Singapore. No doubts that this laneway is culturally important.
This is more than just street art! It’s a very meaningful piece of art. The wall in Drewery Lane has been decorated with little, colorful tiles to honor people who have given their lives for Australia. As a contrast, on the other side of the street, there is an extremely famous Kardashians mural. It can’t be too serious, right?
There is some street art in Guildford Lane but not that much as in above described locations. Anyway, this place is special for another reason. It’s a small green oasis that was initiated by their residents. Very neat and unique. Make sure to visit this laneway on your way to Franklin Street and enjoy its greenery!
223 FRANKLIN STREET
Next stop is 223 Franklin Street. This laneway has some interesting pieces of art. The one below is definitely my favourite. Impressive, right? The other walls are also painted and worth your attention. So have a look and take your time. I hope that this street art walking tour has been enjoyable so far.
The below picture was taken in Hotel Miami. It’s a bit far from the other places marked on the map, so you will need to get out of your way to see it. Interestingly enough, it’s located inside the hotel and you will have to ask the staff to let you in to the backyard. I’m not sure how popular this place is and how often people visit the hotel to see this piece of art, but I had no issues with getting in. The hotel staff were super friendly and they said yes to me coming in only to do some photography. It’s a real treat for street art lovers!
BLENDER LANE & 436 QUEEN STREET
It’s the last stop, so take your time to enjoy Blender Lane and 436 Queen Street. These places are full of murals! Once you are done, drop by the Queen Victoria Market. Who knows, maybe you will arrive just in time to get yourself some warm doughnuts from American Doughnut Kitchen. Don’t be much bothered by the long line you will probably see there. It’s worth to queue and try those famous doughnuts that are being produced in this van from 1950. Isn’t it a great way to finish this street art walking tour?
These are the best street art places in Melbourne. Which laneway is your favourite? Let me know by leaving a comment below!