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8 best places to spot Melbourne art on the streets

When it comes to public art, few cities are as colourful as Melbourne. From funky laneways adorned with graffiti murals to fascinating sculptures and interesting installations, let Skyscanner take you on a tour of the best spots for street art in the city! You'll return from vacation with plenty of inspiration from this creative hub.

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1. Public Purse by Simon Perry

This massive glamorous pink purse has been a familiar fixture at the Bourke Street Mall for at least 20 years! Over the course of that time, the Public Purse has transcended from being merely a piece of art to being a significant landmark; its smooth marble flanks serving as meeting point for friends or resting place for weary shoppers. The work was commissioned by the city as part of the Percent for Art programme, where 1 percent of the annual budget was used to fund public art.

Where: Bourke Street Mall

Public Purse Photo by Tourism Victoria
A place for meeting: The Public Purse. Photo credit: Tourism Victoria

2. Hosier Lane

Ask any local for where to go to see street art and most would direct you towards the bluestone cobbled Hosier lane – and for good reason! Home to Melbourne’s most famous laneways, the brick walls of this thoroughfare are covered with striking tags, stencils and graffiti murals, which makes a stunning backdrop for photos, be it for casual Instagram snaps, or luxury fashion editorials. We hear the murals are a favourite for brides opting for an edgier wedding shoot too! The lane got its name from a significant graffiti mural known as Our Lady Hosier (now painted over) who went through a few outfit changes over the years, which really encapsulates the dynamic spirit of the urban street art scene in Melbourne.

While you’re in the area do also check out popular laneway restaurants like Misty (3-5 Hosier Lane) and Movida (164 Flinders St). Don’t forget to book a table in advance; they get really crowded! Neighbouring Degraves Lane is also worth a visit for its hip cafes and northern end, and is just as well-known for street art.

Where: off Flinders St, opposite Federation Square

Hosier Lane Photo by Tourism Victoria
Hosier Lane is a must-see for its ever-changing murals. Photo credit: SalTheColourGeek / Flickr

3. More laneway art

Street art lovers, rejoice! For those of you who can’t get enough of the wealth of art and creativity in Melbourne’s laneways, make sure you hop on a walking tour of these fascinating sites, some of which are funded by the city’s Arts programmes. Here are a few worth checking out:

Degraves Lane is teeming with trendy cafes for your quick cuppa and features a fantastic gallery of street art at its northern end.

Union Lane is adorned by massive murals created by participants of Melbourne’s Graffiti Mentoring Project in 2008. However, over the years other artists have left tags on the works, which unfortunately detracts from the original works.

Yarra Place oozes cool with its magnificent and edgy street art masterpieces. Be amazed!

Union Lane photo by Tourism Victoria
A taste of the riot of colours you’ll witness at Union Lane. Photo credit: Tourism Victoria

4. Threaded Field by Simon Perry

Yet another one by Simon Perry, this fun artwork explores our shared experience of public spaces, represented by the giant green thread that playfully loops and knots itself through the concourse of Etihad Stadium. We love the Pop Art influence on this one! Like its counterpart on Bourke Street, the sculpture has become a popular landmark, also serving as a meeting point and playground for the young and young at heart.

Where: Near Gates 1 & 6 Etihad Stadium Concourse, Docklands

Threaded Field photo by Tourism Victoria
Have a seat on the Threaded Field. Photo credit: Tourism Victoria

5. Blowhole by Duncan Stemler

This fascinating sculpture by Sydney artist Duncan Stemler cleverly harnesses the winds down by the waterfront to animate his stunning 15m tall sculpture, Blowhole. Referencing the Dockland’s maritime history and recent emergence as urban hub, the sculpture’s armature and cups create a complex arrangement of orbiting balls that mimic the wind indicator on the mast of a yacht. Intriguing enough when immobile, the sculpture spins into life when the wind whips up to reach sufficient velocity. You have to see this one for yourself!

Where: Docklands Park, Docklands

Blowhole photo by Fiona Harper travel writer
There’s nothing quite like seeing the Blowhole come to life. Photo credit: Fiona Harper

6. Rose Street Artists Market

The undeniably trendy suburb of Fitzroy has seen many transformations over the years, from urban grit to hipster cool, as the arty crowd emigrated in droves into the neighbourhood. Both emerging and well-established artists and designers set up shop every weekend at the Rose Street Artists Market, which was once a former junkyard. The market is quaint, quirky and quintessentially Melbourne, with beautiful, unique creations you can take home with you. Street art is also plentiful in Rose Street, with their most famous attraction being a parking lot with every inch of its walls covered in stunning murals. You can also find studios and pop-up shops which showcases art of every medium imaginable.

Where: Rose St, Fitzroy

Rose St Artists Market photo by Tourism Victoria
Rose Street Artists Market is a place to appreciate, and purchase, art. Photo credit: Tourism Victoria

7. Architectural Fragment

Calling to mind antique ruins of civilizations past, Dutch sculptor Petrus Spronk is responsible for the bluestone architectural fragment that emerges from the ground the way an archaeological artefact, or a fallen classical monument might. The artist seems to make the statement that someday every great city will collapse. Inscribed with the words "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look on my work you Mighty, and despair," the artwork was inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s well-known poem Ozymandias, and was created for the Swanston Street Walk Public Art project.

Where: Swanston St, close to the State Library of Victoria

Architectural fragment
An architectural fragment that makes you ponder. Photo credit: Mr Spronks / Tourism Victoria

8. Birrarung Marr

Melbourne is famed for its amazing inner city public parks, and our favourite has got to be Birrarung Marr, which gets its name from the indigenous Wurundjeri people meaning "River Bank of Mists." The park is perfect for an afternoon wander, as it features numerous open level terraces which jut out onto the Yarra River and showcases multiple art installations throughout. The Federation Bells, a series of 39 upside down bells of different sizes, is a melodic sound sculpture that chimes thrice daily. Not far from the bells stands the three-legged Angel, a beautiful mosaic sculpture by Deborah Halpern. We also love the rock carvings replicating ancient Aboriginal rock art – a nod towards the original inhabitants of the land!

Where: Between Flinders St and the north bank of the Yarra River

Birrarung Marr rock art photo by Tourism Victoria
Birrarung Marr rock art remembers the history of the land. Photo credit: Tourism Victoria

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Want to see these cool street art and funky laneways for yourself? Head on to Skyscanner today and check out the best flight, hotel and car hire deals! For easy browsing and booking on the go, check out our mobile apps here too.

*Adapted from an article originally written by Fiona Harper for Skyscanner

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