In recent decades Melbourne’s street art scene has grown to become one of the most vibrant in the world, and locals and visitors alike flock to the city’s famous laneways to view this constantly evolving urban canvas.
From tiny 3D installations to giant murals, there are masterpieces waiting to be discovered around every corner. If you’re a first time visitor, here are some tips for where to see the best Melbourne street art. Book your stay with Choice Hotels.
City of Melbourne’s stance on street art
Before you set off to explore, it’s worth knowing how Melbourne’s street art scene evolved. While it may look organic, there are rules and regulations that govern where street art can appear in the city, and what types of art can be produced. Street art is restricted from appearing in heritage precincts and can only appear on the sides of private buildings with the written permission of the owner. Many building owners actively encourage the art and work closely with artists as a way of attracting visitors. The City of Melbourne’s approach to reducing unwanted graffiti (such as tagging) has been to foster a sense of pride for the city’s street art precincts within the artistic community itself. The community sets a standard that the majority of artists adhere to.
How to explore Melbourne’s street art scene
It’s easy to explore Melbourne’s street art scene. Just follow any laneway and see where the city chooses to take you. Look up, down, and around corners as you wander. You’ll often find small works tucked into random nooks and crannies. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are murals that adorn the sides of entire buildings. Street artists come from many different backgrounds, and they express their views and ideas through their art. Much of it is political in nature or offers a social comment. If you prefer some guidance as you explore, download a self-guided walking tour map from the City of Melbourne website or join a tour led by a working artist.
Key Melbourne street art precincts
Located opposite Federation Square, Hosier Lane is probably the most Instagrammed location in Melbourne. The laneway and its spurs are literally caked in street art. It covers everything – including the wheelie bins and dumpsters – and new works appear on a daily basis. Look up to see the mural of an Indigenous Australian boy on the rear wall of McDonald house. It’s a massive 23 metres high and was created by Adnate in 2014.
AC/DC Lane & Duckboard Place
Named after the famous Australian rock band, AC/DC Lane is a nod to Melbourne’s love of live music – and for many years one of the city’s grungiest venues was located here. These days the laneway is just as famous for its street art, including the 3D sculpture of Bon Scott bursting out of a brick wall. It was created by Mike Makatron in 2018. Follow the laneway around to see Steen Jones’ tall tribute to Melbourne (another favoured shot for Instagram). The laneway then joins up with Duckboard Place, and there’s a Banksy parachuting rat on the far wall that attracts a steady stream of fans.
Running between Flinders Lane and Collins Street, Centre Place is quintessential ‘Melbourne’. It’s lined with cafes and casual eateries, and there’s a cache of street art at the Collins Street end. There’s always something interesting to see here, including political paste-ups and stencil works.
Howey Place & Presgrave Place
Howey Place has some interesting Art Deco features, but it’s the spur laneway called Presgrave Place that draws inquisitive street art hunters. One side of the laneway is completely covered in small framed pictures, paste-ups, stencils and 3D works. Again, there’s always something new to see here.
Exit Howey Place onto Little Collins Street, and head up Union Lane towards the Bourke Street Mall. This long narrow laneway is a kaleidoscope of colour and offers yet more photo opportunities.
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