Melbourne is internationally renowned for its street art, but most of the good stuff is hidden in the city’s nooks and crannies. Read our lowdown on where to find it and what to look for, and then map out your next visit with our street art walking guide. And be quick! The art of the street is always changing.
Named after the legendary Oz rock band, AC/DC Lane is a nexus for music and street art. Marvel at murals of AC/DC’s Malcolm Young in this super cool outdoor gallery. We reckon the crowning glory is Mike Makatron’s 3D sculpture of Bon Scott bursting through the wall and into the laneway. This rock den is one of the best places in town to catch a band, or have a drink. Hungry? Try Pastuso or Tonka Bar & Restaurant.
The iconic watering hole that launched Melbourne’s cool laneway bar revolution might be gone, but Meyers Place is better than ever. One of four thoroughfares transformed by our Green Your Laneway program, it’s now home to a Mike Makatron mural. Admire his beautiful urban jungle, then enjoy city views and a brew at Loop Roof.
Wander down this unassuming lane and find Baby Yoda musing about chicken nuggets, hanging out with Elton John and being generally adorable. Then swing around the corner for a feast and hope the queue at Chin Chin isn’t too long. Do or do not, there is no try.
The street art here leans toward three dimensions: think small sculptures and images with physical frames. Look down and you might see a whimsical miniature diorama by Liz Sonntag. AKA Tinky, she recently emerged as one of our most intriguing street artists. Speaking of miniatures, this lane is also home to Bar Americano. With room for only 10 standing patrons, it’s one of Melbourne’s smallest (and best) bars.
The place where Melbourne’s street art first went massive, Hosier Lane is a bit more mainstream today. But there’s good reason why it still draws tourists, wedding photoshoots and even Ed Sheeran, who once did a surprise gig there. Every centimetre is covered in a colourful riot of throwies, murals, stencils, posters, stickers and tags. Stroll along with a coffee from good 2 Go, get eats and drinks at Movida or their bodega, Bar Tini.
Big murals cover this lane’s walls, but none are bigger than Steen Jones’ towering tribute to Melbourne. This bold design of roses and a butterfly looks like the wall has got itself a tattoo in honour of the city. On a much smaller scale, there’s also one of the last Banksy rats, which used to lurk all over the CBD. If you like dumplings (who doesn’t!), try Lee Ho Fook’s classy new-style Chinese.
Upper West Side Street Art Precinct
The CBD’s western edge has got out of its drab funk and gone a bit punk thanks to the Juddy Roller collective. Six murals have been created by celebrated street artists Smug, Dvate, Adnate, Sofles, Fintan Magee and Rone. Seven storeys high and 30 metres wide, they mark the first phase of the CBD’s first official street-art precinct.
This little lane’s a good bet for murals and pieces (short for masterpieces). As well as this ever-changing parade of street art, Croft Alley’s best known for Melbourne’s first cool bar with a theme. The Croft Institute’s ground level is like your high-school science lab, but without the exams.
This narrow, high-walled laneway’s street art isn’t obvious from either end, so take a stroll and discover its charms. Check out our guide to Tattersalls Lane for tips on where to refuel.
Can’t Do Tomorrow festival
Feast your eyes, shimmy to live music and gorge your stomach at the brand new Can’t Do Tomorrow urban art festival. Check out paintings, murals, epic installations and more from some of Australia’s top urban artists. Running from 20 to 29 February at The Facility, Kensington.
Take a street art tour
Blender Studios’ Melbourne Street Art Tours are the first in Australia to be led by actual street artists. At tour’s end back at HQ, see artists at work and chat over a drink. Melbourne I Love You walking tours are led by photographer Chris Cincotta. His social media success has spawned a book, Humans in Melbourne, which is packed with beautiful laneway pics. His latest love letter to our fine city, Melbourne I Love You, is equally spectacular. Grab a copy from Dymocks and other retailers around the city.
Map your visit
If you like your street art sojourns to be a little more organised, check out the Melbourne Street Art Walking Tour map. Leave no laneway mural un-photographed with this two and a half hour stroll. No time for the full three kilometre trek? Break it up into mini adventures next time you’ve got a spare 20 minutes or so.