Walking Around Melbourne’s World Famous Street Art Lanes and Alleyways

Melbourne is renowned for its vibrant street art scene, particularly in its laneways and arcades. These laneways are not just pedestrian thoroughfares but have become canvases for local and international artists, making the city a dynamic open-air gallery.

I spent today with other members of my Probus Club exploring these interesting laneways. We generally followed a self-guided walking tour provided by the Melbourne. City Council. I’ve lived in this city for all of my life, but today I found places that I never knew existed.

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Walking around Melbourne’s art-filled laneways is a truly unique and captivating experience. These laneways are a living, ever-changing outdoor gallery, with vibrant murals, stencils, and street art adorning nearly every available surface[

As you wander through these narrow alleys you’re surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colours and styles, from photorealistic portraits to abstract designs. The artwork is constantly evolving, with new pieces appearing and old ones being painted over, giving each visit a fresh perspective.

The laneways have a buzzing energy, with tourists snapping photos and locals grabbing coffee from hole-in-the-wall cafes. You might stumble upon a hidden bar tucked away in one of the lanes or discover a quirky shop selling handmade goods.

Along the way, we made a detour along Collins Street to see two very famous grand buildings. 

333 Collins Street in is an historic building constructed during the 1890s land boom – the former Banking Chamber and entrance vestibule of the Commercial Bank of Australia. This grand Baroque-style chamber with its magnificent domed ceiling was completed in 1893 and is regarded as one of the finest examples of 19th-century bank architecture in the world.

The original building served as the head office and clearing house for the Commercial Bank of Australia until the 1970s. After being sold in 1987, a 29-story office tower clad in granite was constructed around the heritage-listed Banking Chamber, integrating the old and new elements.

We also stopped off to see the newly renovated ANZ bank building on the corner of Collins and Queen Srreet..

This Gothic style bank first opened for business on May 31, 1887, a period that marked the boom era in Melbourne’s history and a corresponding renaissance for banking institutions.

 It was originally built as the Australia-based head office of ANZ’s predecessor – the English, Scottish and Australia Chartered Bank. Upper floors of the bank also housed the residence of its first General Manager, Sir George Verdon. Beneath ground level are the original banking vaults which for many years secured money, gold and other precious items.

My father in law, Alan R Andersen, was a banker with the ES&A Bank. In the newly renovated building and museum, there is a book that records the names of all the ES&A staff who served in WW2. I found an attendant who showed me his name in this register with its beautiful hand written calligraphy. 

Back on the street art trail, we found that it isn’t confined to just the main laneways. By venturing down lesser-known alleys we found hidden gems with framed artworks and recycled sculptures lining the walls.

Overall, exploring Melbourne’s laneways is an immersive experience that lets you see the city’s vibrant creative spirit. With every turn revealing something new and unexpected, it’s a very interesting journey.

These laneways collectively contribute to Melbourne’s reputation as a global street art capital, offering a diverse and ever-changing array of artworks that reflect the city’s creative spirit.

One thought on “Walking Around Melbourne’s World Famous Street Art Lanes and Alleyways”

  1. Hi Bruce, Yes as a Sydney sider, I stumbled across these marvellous laneways by accident when attending a training course in Melbourne CBD. In Sydney, they would be places to avoid and stay away from and were never developed as the Melburnians did. Maybe that shows Sydney’s lack of artistic feeling. I also discovered the magnificent Cafe scene …it was an amazing feeling and adventure.

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