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.
In Canberra 23 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.
Sydney's inner city suburb of Surry Hills is home to much-loved cafés, 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.
Two bronze jellyfish by renowned Australian artist Aly de Groot, at East Point Reserve in Darwin, is one of many projects that local government are funding to brighten community spaces. Another artwork can be seen in Tamarind Park in the city centre, where a screened work, Meeting Place, features etched drawings depicting symbols of food and medicine traditionally important to Darwin's Aboriginal Larrakia people.
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. At lunch or dinner feast on pork buns and lamb rack at The Survey Co, and, afterwards, enjoy craft beer at speakeasy-style Super Whatnot.
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. Work your way through the extensive wine list at Proof.
Grand Lane in the city centre is just one of Perth's historic laneways to have been revitalised under the city's Forgotten Spaces initiative, and it's been done with serious style. The street is 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.
In Hobart many laneways, walls, buildings and other public spaces have been brightened with street art. Head to 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. The Standard serves delicious burgers and shakes among the attractive graffiti of Hudson Lane.
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.