I have been invited by perelincolors to write a guest post for their ‘3 of the best’ series, featuring Melbourne’s laneways. There are over fifty laneways in Melbourne so it was very difficult to narrow it down to just three.
First a little bit of history about the laneways which date back to the mid-1800s. They were designed as part of the original city grid as service lanes for horses and carts and most infamously the ‘nightman’. At that time toilets were located in the yard on the back fence. Once a week the nightman would collect the waste by reaching through a small door at the back of the toilet closet, to collect the pan and empty it into his cart. This practice lasted until the late 1800s when a sewerage system was built to take care of Melbourne’s waste.
For the next hundred years the laneways continued to be used as service roads for cars and vans until the 1990s when Melbourne’s central business district began to fill with residents and they began to change. Today you would be hard-pressed to find a laneway in Melbourne without a café or bar. Many are also filled with street art and have become a huge tourist attraction for the city.
So, here are my three best Melbourne laneways.
Hosier Lane is the hub of Melbourne’s street art scene. Every day the lane is filled with tourists and locals taking photographs of the constantly changing gallery of tags, paste-ups, stencils and murals. It is also a popular location for wedding photographs. The lane is often heady with the smell of paint as local and international street artists work there night and day.
Since 2003 Movida, a popular Spanish Tapas bar and eatery, has occupied the Flinders Street end of the laneway. It was so popular that Movida Next Door opened a few years later to cater for the growing clientele.
Centre Place is made up of a laneway and arcade. The laneway section is narrow and grungy, which seems to add to its appeal. It is lined with what is known in Melbourne as ‘hole in the wall’ cafes and eateries and is most popular during the day when you can buy very inexpensive dumplings, soups, crepes and pasta dishes. Above the shops are residential apartments and bars, many with metal balconies overlooking the laneway.
AC/DC Lane – On 23 February 1976, AC/DC rode down Swanston Street, Melbourne on the back of a flat-bed truck singing ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)’. The video featured the band’s then-current lineup including lead singer Bon Scott, along with members of the Rats of Tobruk Bagpipe Band. Although the band originated in Sydney, from that day Melbourne adopted AC/DC as their own. In 2004, Corporation Lane was renamed AC/DC Lane as a tribute to the band who’d put Melbourne on the rock music map all those years before. The laneway walls are covered with street art, much of it a tribute to the band.
AC/DC Lane is also the location of the infamous Cherry Bar. The bar opened in 1999 and is where many touring bands and crew hold their post-gig parties. Legend has it that Noel Gallagher from Oasis was so taken with the bar during their 2002 Australian tour, he tried to buy it. The bar is also famous for turning down Lady Gaga and her entourage for an after-party booking as there was already a local band scheduled to play that night.