Discover hidden streets and vibrant artistic spaces in Australia's capital cities.
Wandering through hidden streets and laneways is the best way to discover the character, charm and culture of Australia's capital cities. From colourful graffiti to bustling city bars – above and below ground – our cities boast vibrant artistic spaces that may be hard to find, but are well worth exploring. And now Australia’s regional areas are beginning to show their creative side with towering artworks and unique exhibitions that are well worth a trip outside the city.
In Canberra 27 sites are designated "free spaces" that invite graffiti and street artists to inject some colour and creativity into the country's political hub. This council-backed program has allowed artists such as Geoff Filmer to (legally) make a splash on laneway walls, farm sheds and storage containers, with bold, colourful murals. Don't miss the superhero-inspired works at Tocumwal Lane in Canberra's city centre. Head outside of the city centre to the trendy neighbourhoods of NewActon and Braddon to spot more inner-city street art alongside cafes, restaurants and exciting nightlife.
Sydney's inner city suburb of Surry Hills is home to much-loved cafes, quirky fashion boutiques and second-hand thrift stores along Bourke and Crown streets. Step inside the former home and studio of avant-garde artist Brett Whiteley on Raper Street, and afterwards enjoy a coffee and pastry at the acclaimed Bourke Street Bakery. For something a bit more underground, head to Sydney’s funky neighbourhoods of Newtown and Enmore. Here you’ll spot some of the city’s best street art, including works that private homeowners commissioned for the outside of their houses, elevating graffiti murals to the status of coveted art piece. You can tour the best works and get a background on the area’s transformation on a city street art walking tour with Culture Scouts.
Follow the city of Darwin’s Public Art Map to see how the city’s history and culture have been brought to life with public artworks. Some exciting pieces not to miss include two bronze jellyfish by renowned Australian artist Aly de Groot, at East Point Reserve in Darwin, and Meeting Place in Tamarind Park in the city centre. The piece features etched drawings depicting symbols of food and medicine traditionally important to Darwin's Aboriginal Larrakia people. Head just north of the city to the Indigenous community of Bagot to see multiple artworks created as part of the Bagot Painting Home Project, including incredible portraits of community elders. The success of the public artwork initiative in Darwin has led to the development of the Darwin Street Art Festival. The festival attracts high profile street artists who come to create beautiful murals on walls throughout the city.
Jammed between the department stores and designer shops on Brisbane's Queen Street Mall, Burnett Lane offers an eclectic mix of public art, micro bars and cafés. Start your day with coffee at Brew, which moonlights as a wine bar after dark. In Fortitude Valley you’ll find several unique murals as you wander the area, and you can even stay at Tryp Hotel for an unique street art experience housed within a boutique hotel. Be sure to also head to New Farm and Spring Hill, across the river to the West End and South Brisbane, or you can even spot a few in Paddington and Milton. Artistic styles range from edgy surrealism to lifelike depictions of important community members. The city also plays host to an annual Street Art Festival, bringing in artists from Australia and abroad to add their touch to the city’s landscape.
Aptly nicknamed “Radelaide” by locals, Adelaide has a vibrant street art scene that has even been recognised alongside some of the world’s biggest cities as a hot destination for public art. Adelaide locals flock to Peel Street in the city centre for its thriving string of bars and restaurants. Delve into the tasting menu at Peel St, and then get cosy at Maybe Mae, an art deco cocktail den accessed through the subway tunnel between Leigh and Peel streets. Around the corner, graffiti-splashed Anster Street is also home to some trendy bars. Be sure to also visit Rhino Room on Pirie Street, Morphett Street Bridge, Little Rundle Street and Wonderwalls project in Port Adelaide - home to some of the city’s street art highlights.
Grand Lane in the city centre is just one of Perth's historic laneways revitalised under the Forgotten Spaces initiative, and it's been done with serious style. It's now home to the 99 metre (325 foot) Grant Lane Mural, by Scott Neoh and Hiroyasu Tsuri, and the Light Locker Art Space, a public exhibition showcasing 2D and 3D works from local emerging artists. Be sure to spend a day in Fremantle, where you’ll find it difficult to walk any distance without spotting another work of art. The neighbourhood of Subiaco also houses its share of street art, making it a great spot to wander between boutique shops, markets and cafes on a sunny afternoon. If you’re taking a road trip outside of Perth, follow the PUBLIC Silo Trail through beautiful regional towns to discover massive murals done on grain silos, transformer boxes and iconic infrastructure.
In Hobart many laneways, walls, buildings and other public spaces have been brightened with street art. To find them, you’ll need to head away from the historic waterfront precinct and into some of the quieter city laneways. Start at Kemp Street to see quirky characters by West Australian artist Jae Criddle, or visit Harrington Lane, where walls feature the murals of local artist Jamin. Bidenscopes Lane is Hobart’s street art hotspot thanks to the VibranceVibrance and Dark Mofo festivals which helped turn this tagging target into a colourful carpark with designs from over 20 artists.
Melbourne is renowned as one of the world's street art capitals, and residents are encouraged to participate in creative expression. Hosier and Rutledge lanes (opposite Federation Square in the city centre) and Centre Place are among the most colourful spots, creating some of the city's best open-air galleries. Join a street art tour to discover hidden treasures off the beaten track. The rest of the state is following Melbourne’s artistic lead with the development of a 200 kilometre (124 mile) Silo Art Trail. You’ll see towering works created by internationally recognised street artists, starting in the Grampians. The road trip will take you through six of the region’s smallest towns which now make up one of the country’s biggest outdoor art galleries. Visit the quaint towns, boutique shops and cafes of Australia’s wheatbelt along the way.