Guide To Melbourne’s Laneways

Degraves Street

There is nothing I love more than getting lost in the alleyways, arcades and laneways of Melbourne. Discovering cool cafes, coffee houses and shops in converted warehouses is a big part of the Melbourne experience. But it’s the laneways that link them which really make this city stand out. Like constantly evolving art galleries, the laneways of Melbourne always put on a colourful new show. So I’ve put together a guide of my favourite laneways in Melbourne and what you can expect to find in them.

Degraves Street

If you’ve come to Melbourne via a train into Flinders Street Station, Degraves will be your first taste of Melbourne’s laneways. This pedestrianized street directly across the road from the city’s historic railway station is lined with cafes, coffee houses and a cupcakery. Seating is available down the middle of the laneway (kindly heated in winter) and the chatter of diners animates the area. Works of street art are dispersed along the street (look out for the small girl character of Be Free who pops up all over Melbourne and hides under an umbrella on this laneway) and not even the bins escape a bit of decoration.

Degraves Street

Be Free

Also worth checking out is the Campbell Arcade which can be accessed via Degraves and leads straight into the train station. Rather like a time tunnel this underground subway from the 1950’s features retro-outfitted shops and signs, including a vintage clothes retailer and zine specialist. The walls have been turned into display cabinets which feature a rotating display of art installations by the Platform Artists Group – it’s one subway that is definitely worth passing through.

Campbell Arcade

Hosiers Lane

Hosiers Lane, just a short walk from Federation Square, is one of Melbourne’s most iconic laneways. Exceptional, high quality street art (which sometimes has a political agenda) covers every single inch of the lane – including the street bollards!

Hosiers Lane

Hosiers Lane

Union Lane

Union Lane is a convenient passageway between Little Collins Street and Bourke Street Mall (the pedestrianized shopping zone of Bourke Street, which does allow trams so watch out!) Every building that backs onto the alleyway has been decorated with graffiti and it is constantly changing and evolving like an art gallery on rotation.

Union Lane

Union Lane

Croft Alley

Croft Alley is a dead end in Chinatown that not many people venture down unless they were looking for the Croft Institute, a cocktail bar loosely themed around a science laboratory which is hidden at the end. Croft Alley is one of my favourite of Melbourne’s decorated laneways, there was an octopus guarding the entrance last time I visited. It doesn’t get the usual amount of foot traffic and photographers coming down here as it is a bit out the way, so you may be treated to some time with the walls all by yourself.

Croft Alley

Croft Alley

Rankins Lane

Rankins Lane has had the same colourful characters painted on it for the last few years I’ve visited (which is unusual seen as every other alley seems to get replaced by new work all the time.) It’s not the artwork which puts this lane on my list however but the café hidden down it – Manchester Press. Manchester Press is a converted warehouse at the end of Rankins Lane who serve some of the best bagels I’ve ever tasted – think bacon, mozzarella, avocado, rocket.. yum! In a city full of tiny cafes it’s a space big enough for groups and has friendly staff to cater for them. Also worth mentioning in the vicinity is Brother Baba Budan which sits on the corner of Rankins Lane. Regularly spoken of as the best coffee in Melbourne, Brother Budan has a crowd of loyal regulars who come and go all day long. It was founded by Mark Dundon who also opened St Ali (another Melbourne coffee mecca – see more here) and the décor provides an interesting talking point – the ceiling is covered in chairs.

Rankins Lane

Brother-Baba-Budan

Have you toured Melbourne’s alleys and laneways? Which are your favourites?

*Click here for my love letter to Melbourne or here for a guide to shopping in Melbourne.

13 Comments

  1. Reply

    Best holiday destinations

    August 26, 2014

    Such a fantastic place for vacations. thanks for sharing nice views.

  2. Reply

    Isabel

    August 26, 2014

    I’m dying to see those alleys now! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      August 26, 2014

      You’re welcome! I love them too!

  3. Reply

    Kait Burke

    August 27, 2014

    I spent 5 months of my year in Australia living in Melbourne. This list makes me a bit homesick! Although I think you should include Hardware Lane, even though it doesn’t have graffiti….

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      August 27, 2014

      Is that the one with all the eateries? Food is always good…

  4. Reply

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel

    August 28, 2014

    Oh wow I was just transported home! Melbourne was my home for three years and I miss it dearly.

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      September 2, 2014

      It’s a wonderful place to call home.

  5. Reply

    Erin

    August 31, 2014

    Such great photo’s! I adore street art so I would be in heaven there. Aus/NZ isn’t on my travel list for a while but when it is I will be sure to check out the laneways!

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      September 2, 2014

      Thank you. If you love street art then you mustn’t miss Melbourne 😉

  6. Reply

    Fabiana

    October 4, 2014

    Wow! I love how that place looks. I would love to explore it with my camera. I’m not that good with it, but I’m trying. 🙂

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      October 8, 2014

      Well Melbourne is a great place to test it out 🙂

  7. Reply

    Chalsie

    November 17, 2014

    Ah, my beloved Melbourne! Hardware lane is pretty amazing too! It’s covered in bluestones and has al fresco dining. Really nice way to escape the city on a hot summers day.

    Chalsie | The Workshop Co. x

    • Reply

      Jayne Gorman

      November 17, 2014

      Sounds awesome! Shall have to check it out on my next trip J

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