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Shining The Light On Street Art on Hosier Lane, Melbourne

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You’ve probably heard that Melbourne has a spirited street art scene, which is arguably best found down Hosier Lane, a highly decorated and celebrated street in the city.

Ever since the 1970s, graffiti artists have been decorating the city’s backstreets with vibrant and striking pieces of urban artwork, coloring the city in floor-to-wall displays of artistic expression.

Hozier Lane, located in East End Melbourne, is one of the most decorated streets.

It’s easily recognizable from the many tourism campaigns that has used it as the backdrop over the years, and today, is probably the most Instagrammable street in the city.

girls walking through an alleyway covered in graffiti
Kalyra and Savannah in Hosier Lane

Although its roots began with stenciling artwork, today you can see a variety of different styles, from NYC-inspired 3D lettering to humorous cartoons and realism paintings. Each piece tells a different story, either of political and cultural issues to events in Melbourne’s history. Some are just plain whacky!

Where is Hosier Lane?

map

Hosier Lane is a pedestrian and vehicle lane way in the East End of Melbourne, in the Central Business District (CBD).

It’s a short 2 minute walk from Flinders Street Station and is tucked between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane.

Colorful graffiti on the side of a building
Colorful graffiti on the side of a building

Why Is Hosier Lane Famous?

What makes Hosier Lane famous is it’s long-standing commitment to preserving and fostering artistic expression.

It’s not only Melbourne locals who have come to Hosier Lane to decorate its walls, but international artists, as well.

It first began attracting street artists in the 1990s, and not much has changed ever since.

Graffiti on a sidewalk in front of a building

While some city’s consider street art a form of vandalism, Melbourne has always embraced it.

In fact, it holds annual street art festivals, such as Urban Canvas Mural Festival and , in which the government and event organizers come together to invite artists from around the world to continue to add to the city’s street art scene.

A colorful motorcycle is parked on the side of a road

The most famous street art event took place in November 2013, which was organized by Invurt. This was the largest urban art paint-up event in Melbourne and saw 100 local artists come to Hosier Lane and nearby Rutledge Lane to share their artistic talent.

Today, there is hardly a square inch on the street that has not been decorated, not even the cobbled road, sidewalk and bollards have been spared in some places!

Colorful graffiti on the side of a building
Graffiti on a wall

Street Art on Hosier Lane

The idea behind the street art on Hosier Lane is that both local and international artists can use the walls as a temporary canvas for their works.

This means you can usually see paintings upon paintings, and no two trips to Hosier Lane are ever the same. The street is always being added to, adapted, and celebrated.

Even without knowing the stories behind the paintings or the artists, the art is always striking and a marvel to look at.

A person walking down a sidewalk

The kids enjoyed themselves and were kept occupied by the colourful designs, particularly Kalyra who also found the lane way to be a great backdrop for posing and busted out some dance moves J-Lo would be proud of.

A graffiti covered wall
Colorful graffiti on the side of the street

Even the dumpsters have not been spared by the paint canisters and brushes.

street art on Centre Place

As well as street art, Hosier Lane is a bustling lane lined with independent coffee shops, restaurants and boutique stores.

You can often see buskers and musicians performing on the street as well – no matter what your artistic talent, it can always be celebrated here.

buskers in Centre Place -

Do You Need To Do A Tour of Hosier Lane?

We got to know Melbourne’s graffiti scene simply by walking around on our own.

Most walking tours of the city will pass down Hosier Lane, but it’s more of a “whistle stop” and a chance to snap a few photos, rather than giving you time to really enjoy the artwork and wander at your own pace.

You can do specialized tours who take you to all the historic laneways and arcades, but we preferred to do a self-guided tour.

It would have been nice to know a bit more about the artists who have added to the street, and a bit more of the history, but with the kids in tow and since we’re not massively into art, we decided to just wander by ourselves.

A graffiti covered wall
A graffiti covered wall

Also, because the street is still a working canvas, meaning the artwork is always changing, a guided tour may not provide you with much information about the current artwork.

Unless you’re looking for an “all-round” guided tour of Melbourne’s CBD, I would skip a tour and just go by yourself.

Colorful graffiti on the side of the street

As well as the artwork, we were also looking for good cafes to have coffee like in Centre Place in the CBD or over in Fitzroy.

Final Thoughts

A little girl walking down the street
A group of people walking down a sidewalk covered in graffiti

Melbourne’s laneways and side streets are rife with street art, some better quality than others.

Whether you’re into urban art or you’re just curious to see what it’s all about, make sure you pass by Hosier Lane, even for a quick glimpse.

It’s free and always evolving, which is why it’s one of the most iconic things to do in Melbourne.

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