A guide to Melbourne street art is, by definition, out of date. It’s like making a guide for the weather. Wait a week, a month, a couple of hours, and new murals will emerge. That’s the thing about the Melbourne internationally recognised street art scene: it’s never satisfied. Well-known artists like Ghostpatrol, Ha-Ha, Kaff-eine, Rone, and Lushux are out there pretty much every night, trying new things.
There are some good Melbourne street art tours if you’re interested (Melbourne Street Tours and Melbourne Walks are probably the best), but you don’t need a guide to enjoy this stuff. Just strap on some walking shoes and keep your eyes peeled.
Here’s where to find Melbourne’s best street art.
Image: Michelle Jarni
If we’re talking paint-per-square-metre, the CBD is Melbourne’s obvious street art capital. It’s what makes our laneways world famous. Most people know the popular street art spots (Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane etc.) but there are dozens of other good sites around town. Here are our favourites.
Hosier Lane is the epicentre of Melbourne street art, so much so that it’s almost become passé. You can’t move here for tourists and selfie sticks on a Friday night. Hosier Lane is in a constant state of change, but it’s most famous for the unnamed Indigenous boy by Adnate— a 23-metre mural that overlooks Birrarung Marr.
A lot of tourists never find Caledonian Lane. It’s a tiny back alley, tucked between Little Bourke and Lonsdale Street, just next to Emporium. This was the birthplace of the St Jerome Laneway Festival, and it’s a popular spot for local artists.
Probably the second most famous street art laneway in the CBD (behind Hosier Lane). AC/DC Lane was named after the Aussie rock band in 2004, and it’s become a popular stop for walking tours in the city. You’ll find it just off Flinders Lane, between Russell St and Exhibition St.
This is a favourite spot for local miniature street artist, Tinky. Duckboard Place curves around from Flinders Lane to AC/DC Lane, but a lot of people don’t even realise it’s there. Street artists love it because it’s quiet. If you’re in the area, grab a drink at Cherry Bar, then dinner at Pastuso.
Blink and you’ll miss little Rankins Lane, just off Little Bourke St. Most people know Rankins as the home of Brother Baba Budan and Manchester Press (two of the CBD’s best cafes), but it’s a highly underrated spot for street art.
Okay, time for something really obscure. You won’t find Loveland Lane on any maps. It’s up near Queen Vic Market, just off Queen Street. A tiny, unmarked spot that’s become a real underground art scene over the last five years. Murals, installations, street art, stencils. You never know what you’ll find in Loveland Lane. But I can promise you won’t find tourists.
Other good spots…
- Centre Place: One of my favourite alleys in Melbourne, and there’s usually new street art at the northern end, just past Aix.
- Croft Alley: A dark little nook in the middle of China Town. Grab a drink at Croft Institute while you’re here.
- Drewery Lane: Home to Legacy House and the ‘Mosaic Man’, Sankar Nadeson, who has covered Drewery in thousands of tiles.
- Blender Lane: The spiritual home of Melbourne street art. Great murals, and you can check out the famous Blender Studios.
- Electric Place: A cul-de-sac near Flagstaff Gardens. It’s been pretty much painted from edge to edge. Highly underrated.
Fitzroy is a favourite playground for Melbourne street artists. As a general rule, you won’t find street art hidden down anonymous laneways here: the big murals are reserved for major roads and intersections like Brunswick St, Fitzroy St, Young St, Napier St, Smith St and Johnston St. Start on the corner of Fitzroy St and Johnston St, where you can spot ‘Spirit Anima’ and an Indigenous Australian boy from the AWOL crew (a dream collab between Slicer, Deams, Adnate, Li-Hill, Lucy Lucy and Itch). Some other good spots include:
- The ‘Fitzroy Faces’ mural on Cecil St (between George St and Gore St), featuring portraits by Cam Scale, Adnate, Dvate, Rone, Jason Parker, Heesco and Sofles.
- Rose St, near the Rose Street Artists Market. In particular the huge mural from Grate, Sat, Plea and Deb, and the Fitzroy Mills Car Park.
- Chopper Lane. A small, dead-end alley off Perry St. This one changes constantly.
- The intersection of Brunswick St and Leicester St. Plenty of good pieces here, including the ‘International Fire Fighter Union’ mural.
Image: Ben Tyers
A lot of Melbournians couldn’t place Cremorne on a map. It’s an industrial back pocket of Richmond, really. A warren of warehouses, cafes and little one-way streets, just near Richmond station. Lushsux does a lot of his work in Cremorne (there used to be an amazing Lushsux mural on Balmain St, between Gwynne and Cubitt, but they turned it into apartments…classic). Here are the best spots for street art in Cremorne:
- Stephenson Street, outside Coe & Coe. This wall changes about once every three months.
- Cubitt St. The north end. You’ll find a towering mural of Kim Kardashian in bed with Kanye and Taylor Swift. They used to be butt-naked, but have since been clothed for modesty along with being vandalised here and there.. A Lushsux classic.
- Corner of Balmain St and Green St. There’s another classic Indigenous Australian boy from Adnate. His eyes will pierce your soul.
- Cremorne St. Look up for this one. Just near the corner of Jessie St, facing north, you’ll see a huge map of Melbourne from local street artist, Deams.
- Green St, just next to the Coles on Swan St. This one’s amazing: a 30-metre mural from Hayden Dewar that depicts the evolution of Australian life.
- In a car park off Stephenson Street, you'll find a great piece by Mysterious Al.
Image: Ben Tyers
Fitzroy and Richmond tend to hog the suburban street art spotlight, but don’t discount Brunswick. Sunshine Lane is one of the best spots for street photography in Melbourne, and there are some quality murals at the top of Lygon Street, too. Our favourite? The new silo artwork on Tinning Street from the world-famous Loretta Lizzio: it’s Jacinda Ardern embracing a Muslim woman after the Christchurch terror attack. Here are the best spots to find street art in Brunswick:
- Lygon Street. There are a few good street art spots along Lygon St, but keep an eye out for the Ned Kelly mural from Ha-Ha and the massive CTO work on the corner of Blyth Street.
- Barkly Square. There’s a lane that runs along the western edge of Barkly Square that often features major installations.
- Little Lane. This one hooks up to Saxon Street, and you can usually find some good paste-ups and stencils.
- Sunshine Lane. Probably Brunswick’s best-known home of street art, supported by the legend Dean Sunshine. You’ll find rotating work from Hush, Shida, Vexta, Makatron, BMD and heaps more.
- Ann Street. Great murals and stencils all over Ann Street, and keep hunting till you find the unnamed, dead-end lane running north—there’s a Kaff-eine mural at the end.
Image: Ben Tyers
Home to the famous Wellington Street High Rise (one of Juddy Roller’s most iconic pieces) Collingwood is no slouch when it comes to street art. As with Fitzroy, it’s generally best to start on Johnston Street and follow the major roads: you can find Dvate murals on the corner of Francis Street, and keep an eye out for good pieces near the Wellington Street intersection. If you want a taste of Melbourne’s street art history, check out the Keith Haring mural, painted by the legend himself in 1984. It’s one of only 31 Haring murals left in the entire world. Here are some other good street art spots in Collingwood:
- Bedford Street. The famous Collingwood burger mural, courtesy of Makatron, Mayonaize, Awes and Dvate.
- Wellington Street. There are a few good murals on Wellington Street, including the corners of Sackville St, Johnston Street and Budd Street.
- Easey Street. Where you’ll find the famous Easey’s burger bar (in a train carriage on a roof, because this is Collingwood) amazing street art, and Juddy Roller’s insane Collingwood Power Substation mural.
Windsor & Prahran
It’s probably fair to say that most of Melbourne’s street art lives north of the Yarra. But Windsor and Prahran are doing their bit to rep the Southside. The Chapel Street Precinct has clearly invested big dollars commissioning artists over the last few years, and the results are epic. UK-based Phlegm was brought on to do the Pran Central mural (a cyborg dismantling its own head, complete with augmented reality app), and you can find dozens of local pieces from artists like Robert Hague, Lynch, Tom Gerrard, Reka ONE, Guido van Helten and Sofles. Just head to Chapel Street, start at Toorak Road and work your way south. Here are our favourite street art spots in Windsor and Prahran:
- The Railway Hotel. Look opposite and you’ll find a giant, multicoloured Ben Simmons mural from Lynch. It’s at 22 Chapel Street, for reference.
- Melbourne Polytechnic. A seven-storey street art project called ‘Paint the Polytechnic’ resulted in some of the most impressive murals in Melbourne. Guido van Helten’s dancer is particularly awesome.
- Mechanic’s Lane. A good one to see what’s fresh on the Southside street art scene. Here’s hoping that Donald trump mural stays for a long, long time.
- St Matthew’s Church. Behind the church, on High St, you’ll find a commissioned piece from US-artist ARCY. Shout out to Union Heights and Verb Syndicate for making this one happen.
Feel like staying indoors? Here are the best exhibitions and art shows happening in Melbourne this month.
Header image: Griffin Simm