Architecture, Melbourne, Photography, Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings – Melbourne Laneways

One of the areasthat are a must to photograph if you come to Melbourne are the laneways around the city.  There are so many and each one is quite unique.  This last week I went into the city to see how the lanes were.  I only looked at the ones from Swanston Street, up Flinders Lane, to Spring Street and towards Flinders Street.  It covers about 3 city blocks.

Hosier LaneHosier Lane is probably one of the best known, best known for the graffiti.  It goes from Flinders Street to Flinders Lane, and there is a side bit as well.  Everything in this lane is covered with graffiti.

I went in with a new photography buddy and she asked what do you photograph here, and I had to think for a minute, then I said, the graffiti.  Try and get a sense of what it is and where it is.

There are many lanes that have graffiti, but Hosier seems to be the main one and if you want to see the trends in graffiti, it is a really good place to start.

Hosier ArtworkThe surprising thing is that it isn’t all just tags and what you would normally expect.  It seems to be developing and becoming more like artwork as you would expect in other places, but it is only there for a short time before someone else paints over it.

AC/DC LaneAC/DC Lane, was not quite what I expected.  I have been down it before, but not taken much notice.  It doesn’t have the same feel as Hosier Lane, but it seems to be more a place for billboard type posters.  Of course, AC/DC is named after the band, which has its roots in Melbourne.

Really, another thing to look out for are the buildings, many of these are really old and help to give you a sense of an older style of Melbourne.

sclaneways-1051One of the things you have to do when walking around the laneways is to look up, you never know what you might find.  Shoes like this are every where.

Laneways with StepsThen there are Laneways that are architecturally interesting, as this is with all the steps.  There are steps everywhere.  I suppose they go somewhere.

There are quite a few laneways along this stretch, some more interesting than others. It is becoming a very busy part of town, and if you want photos without people, then you will need to go very early in the morning.  We were there midday, during midweek, and there were people everywhere.  You have to be patient when it is busy.  People want to have their photographs taken in front of certain types of graffiti, so you might have to wait until they are done.

The busiest lane along this part is by far Hosier Lane, and it’s fame is growing.  They are doing some sort of construction work at one end and that can be a bit annoying, but take a good look around and see what you can photograph.

I have quite a few more images so I am going to put them into a gallery for you.  I am going to include the above images as well.

In the gallery you should be able to see what I mean by the art work.  Some of it is just incredible.

Self Guided Photography Tours

Something I have been considering is writing some self guided photography tours of Melbourne with instruction on where to go and what to photograph that people can buy for $10, so if you want one of the laneways let me know.



  1. This is very impressive and ambitious graffiti. Great shots of a colorful area.

  2. Amazing. Graffiti is to all mess and tags anymore. There are some very talented artists out there. :-)

  3. misslislaughing says

    Nice shots. This is exactly why I love Melbourne so much :)

  4. These are fantastic shots! I love graffiti, or street art, or whatever you’re supposed to call it; your photos certainly highlighted the artistry of it.

    • I will have to try writing some, I will just ones around Melbourne though for now. Thanks Carol.

  5. Nothing like English Lanes…..very interesting to see what goes on in different parts of the world….we do have some Graffiti on the South Bank in London and everyone wants to take photos of it….its really becoming an up and coming art form. Lovely photos thanks for sharing.

    • It is great that graffiti is getting more acceptance now. I think it is great, well not all of it, but some of it is just breathtaking. I also think it is great that these artists have somewhere where they can work. How funny our lanes are different, though these aren’t country lanes. Thank you.

      • Ah we have some lanes or shambles (old name for them) in our towns and cities that go back to Norman, even Saxon times, not sure if the councils would appreciate graffiti on those walls or tourist when they come to see quaint English towns. So we have designated areas and they seem to keep to them :)

      • It is similar here, there are lanes that people seem to be allowed to do it in, and others they aren’t and most artists stick to that, it is the people who will graffiti anything standing still or not that don’t. They are the ones that give them a bad name.

  6. Just today I was showing a group of students my photos of Hosier Lane from my trip. They are working with graffiti fonts and I just so happened to have my computer and showed them the series of photos I took (definitely not as crisp as yours, Leanne) At any rate, they were transfixed and fascinated that an entire alleyway would be devoted to street art. It was so rewarding to see their reactions. It was great to be able to share the laneways of Melbourne with them!

    • What a coincidence, we must be on a similar wave length. I think it is amazing too, but so glad that we have that lane for that.

  7. edjonesphotography says

    So disappointed that I almost ignored my camera for the 3 years I was living in Melbourne, a lesson learnt!

    • I have a similar feeling about my trip to Denmark 19 years ago. It is a big lesson. We have so much stuff to take photos of.

  8. Hanno Phenn says

    It looks like the Band sounds

  9. As another Melbournite I love the laneways in the city. They are where all the interesting things are happening. :)

    • Yes, I have to agree, it is important to take a look and sometimes you never know what is down one and around the corner. :)

      • The last time I was in the city I noticed that the laneway cafes and restaurants were absolutely packed. That’s where all the life was in the CBD!

      • I think that is especially true of the area around Degraves street and Centre place, they are always really busy and packed.

  10. Leanne, we call them alleys – but what impressed us was the Melbourne left turn :) Our rental got a couple dents…

    • So you had trouble with the left turn? Haha, Alleys and lanes, same thing, aren’t they. :) Thanks

  11. Wow, gives me an inside view of a whole different world. Great art and beautiful photographs.

    • It is something you would expect, but the laneways are quite popular, I will have to go in again and get more photos of different lanes. Thanks, glad you liked them.

  12. I’ve never been to Hosier Lane (very remiss of me), but there is lots of graffiti in Union Lane of the Burke St Mall, and if you walk through Degraves St to Collins, there’s a great spot just before the steps up into Center Way. I’ve seen photographers there with the sort of serious gear that sometimes discourages those of us with very humble cameras from taking photos in their presence (sadly).

    • Yes, there are a few lanes, though nothing like Hosier, well if you ask me. I know that bit near the end of Centre Place, it is quite nice, have to go there before it gets too busy.

  13. It is always the inner lanes of a city that show us the real and breathing side… great insights Leanne

    • That is so true, I think they also show a real sense of the history as well, the bits that weren’t made to look pretty.
      Thank you.

  14. So, the graffiti is tolerated by the locals, or is it just a place where they don’t go to arrest people and make them paint over it? I’ve always thought that it would be cool to allow certain places to be painted without reprecussions, but I seem to be in the minority…It’s very cool.

    • I don’t really know. I think if word got out that people were being arrested for it then a lot of people would be pretty upset. It has become a real landmark now and people from everywhere go to the lane to see it. I am fairly sure that it is a place where they can go and do their work without repercussions. Some of the work is just amazing.

  15. So amazing! Great artists. The hanging shoes indicate gangs here in the States, I suppose there are rival gangs, many of them judging by the dozens of shoes up there.

    • I hadn’t thought of gangs, I don’t really know that we have them here, well we do but more in the Asian communities. The artists are incredible.

  16. wonderful, wonderful post! I would not have been able to put the camera away. I love that you captured graffiti and architecture and old with new.

  17. What wonderful contrast between the new and the crumbling old lanes. The graffiti is really amazing…love your photos. We don’t have that much graffiti in central Edinburgh, perhaps because we have so many CCTV cameras watching us from every corner. My nephew, who has just moved over here to Scotland was commenting on the lack of graffiti just last week. I’ll show him this post to give him a fix!

    • That must be such a strange thing having CCTV cameras watching you all the time. I assume no one is really watching you, but the idea, is kinda weird, very 1984. We hate graffiti here too, but it is great that they have a place to do it, and with that comes competition among them and then it just gets better and better. I am always amazed at something there when I go. Thanks

  18. Love the shot with the shoes above you! Really great area! That sounds like an awesome book! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to visit where you are, but hopefully I can someday, and when I do I’ll totally get that book :D

  19. Some of that art seems too good to be condemned to only a lifespan of a couple of months.

    • Yes, I think most of it is. Though there was a painting of Heath Ledger from the Dark Knight and I thought it was going to stay there forever, but it has now been replaced with the first image that was in the post. Imagine would you would find if you could peel off the layers of paint.

  20. Amazing street art. sclaneways-1015 – my favorit art.
    My favorite shots …. Laneways with Steps, love the reflections on the wall from the stairs. That photo with all the shoes … is priceless. That would be something I would put my camera against. Have a lovely weekend.

    • Thank Viveka, Those shoes are pretty amazing, and you get them up there, would take a lot of practice. I quite like the lane with the steps. Thanks again, and you have a good weekend too.

  21. An interesting tour – we call them alleys, and Seattle has some good ones, too, though most of the graffiti seems to be in other places. I love the one looking up, and I can’t situate the black triangle in the one below it. ??

    • The black triangle is the bottom of the staircase I was standing next too. There are so many lines and angles in that lane. I think a lot of places have somewhere for graffiti. I think it great to give them a place to do their work, we then get to enjoy what they do. This particular lane is always full of people looking and taking photos. Thanks.

    • Thank you, it is great for photos. The watermark, haha, I wrote a tutorial about how to do them, look under Learning Photography and then tutorials. I hope that helps.

      • Thanks – yours is one of the better written tutorials on this. HAve you solved the issue of saving the WM photos yet?

      • Thank you, hope you were able to understand it. No I haven’t, but to tell the truth, I haven’t really worried about it, I just have mine as a PSD file and I copy and paste it on each photo and that has worked fine for me.

      • I try to do it as subtly as possible, I used to get people telling me that it was too distracting, but since I started doing them this way, I hardly get any complaints. In fact I have some followers who now like to play the Where’s Wally with my watermark, so I try to hide it for them. LOL

      • Yes- the Waldo concept has prob ensured some fun buy in! I found myself doing that with each photo when I foujnd the WM!

    • I remember seeing your image, I’m sure I did, I took one of that of 12 months ago, but yes, it has been changed now. Shame really, I thought the Heath Ledger one would last a long time, well I suppose it did.

  22. Hi Leanne,

    Great post. Love the amount of variety and as you said, it’s nice to see that it’s not just tags everywhere.

    If I ever get the opportunity to visit Melbourne, then the Laneways is one of the first places I want to go and see.

    We have a similar idea here in Bristol, inspired by the Melbourne project only on a much smaller scale. I wrote a short post about it a while ago (here: )

    Keep up the great posts Leanne! :)

    All the best


    • Thanks Mike, that is cool that Melbourne inspired somewhere else, I will have to go and check out your post. I will do my best to keep it up. :)

  23. markharwoodwriter says

    These are simply gorgeous.

  24. Marilyn Albright says

    Interesting that we both posted wall murals! I’m glad to see you have them in Melbourne also. I think this is an important and wonderful art form, and I hope cities can allow and encourage it (as long as it is done in the appropriate place). These are such fun to see, especially when you can walk along and look at the details.

    • There are a few places where you can see their work in Melbourne, Horier Lane is probably the most popular and has become quite a tourist attraction now. Glad you like what our artists are up to Marilyn. I went to check out yours, but your blog address didn’t come with your name.

  25. Su Leslie says

    Gorgeous photos; and just what I need to cheer me on a very cold, very wet morning where everything here just looks grey! Thanks.

    • We are getting more of those now. I am glad they cheered you up, that is wonderful, thank you.

  26. Very nice shots, and the place is awesome, old-looking streets and graffiti really works :)

    • They do really work together, it is nice to give the old a sense of need, and now more people see them. Thanks :)

  27. Terrific photo set Leanne,

    I’ve started to become fascinated with the back alleys in Toronto of late. I seem to get a better sense of what makes the city tick when I tour through the alleys. They also give me a better idea of the city’s history because the backs of buildings are often not kept up as well as the front sides.

    • I think you are absolutely right, they really do tell you a lot more. They are often so much more interesting. Thanks Shane

  28. Mr. 13’s architecture group are finishing their current course this week at Helsinki’s main graffiti wall. He’s over the moon! Grafitti is his thing – however buying supplies is not so easy. It’s not easy if you’re under 18 :(

    Certainly I look at places differently when I travel now. We saw some amazing work in The Azores of all places. If we get to Melbourne on our next trip down under, definitely the laneways will be high on our list of places to go :)

    • ONe of the interesting things that seem to be happening here, I don’t know about elsewhere, but many artists are doing their work on paper and the gluing it to where they want. Also, there seems to be quite a bit of work that isn’t done with spray cans. It is really interesting.

      Oh yes, you will have to visit the laneways, they are where the best graffiti and street art are.

  29. Wow, some of the artwork is quite impressive! The small-town graffiti we have here doesn’t hold a candle to it!

    • I think because it is in a city that competition is high and I would imagine they try to outdo one another. It is certainly getting to a very high standard.

  30. Oh my goodness Leanne! These are so cool… wish we has some, but I guess being a smaller very spread out town, we unfortunately don’t. These are magical… as all your pictures are! :D

    • They don’t make laneways anymore, ours are still here from when the city was first built. They have become a cultural thing here now. I will have to go back and do more of the others. Thanks Keli. :)

  31. Wow, there are incredible artists painting on the walls. That frog is amazing. How do they do it? I wonder if they have been to art school?

    • The are very amazing. I love the frog too. I don’t know, they don’t look like they are done with a spray can, I could be wrong. It is one of those things, where we don’t even know who the artist is, the work is just there. It is very mysterious.

  32. Well-done graffiti is often very fine art, brilliantly executed…and these images are great examples. In my neighborhood, the graffiti is most gang stuff, and ugly to boot! To counter that, the city has encouraged murals to be painted on the long, concrete walls of the elevated trains…many are quite stunning and obviously done by fine graffiti artists. One in particular is a tribute to the American Indian, done on both sides of an underpass in mosaic and mirror tiles, all hand laid. It’s quite exquisite, and I hope to post it shortly because, as usual, I’m running behind….

    • I have to agree, that graffiti can be gorgeous and it is wonderful to see really good street art around the place. It can make places look more interesting.
      I look forward to seeing what you have to show us, I know the feeling of being behind, I also seem to be trying to catch up.

  33. Love the graffiti you discovered. So much color and creativity. And the angles that you show with the buildings are so spectacular I actually got a little dizzy. :-)

    • Haha, my work makes you dizzy, how funny, but I know what you mean. I love the graffiti, there was so much good stuff, it was a real surprise and joy to find.

  34. Some times graffiti makes for an awesome photograph and from the looks of it you have many fabulous photos, but you also have great photos with nice perspective in some of the photos with out the graffiti.

    • Thank you, I think that people sometimes think, well in Melbourne, that if there is no graffiti then it is boring, but we have many lanes that are really interesting, and the one with all the stairs is just one of those.

  35. I stumbled upon your WordPress site and took a peak as photography was once something I enjoyed. My Nikon D100 has been reborn again, and is now spitting out “weekend wanderings”. Feels great. Thanks for your inspiration from a world away.

    • OH that is fantastic to hear, I love doing my weekend wanderings, and they really make me get out there and find things. Thank you.

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