Melbourne's laneways are her arteries, filled with people, who are the life-blood of the city.
Home to coffee shops, art galleries and boutique shopping, they attract tourists and locals alike. And when the sun goes down, that's when they really come to life! Bars, nightclubs and al fresco restaurants appear out of the shadows to replace the daytime traffic.
Some of Melbourne's best art can be found in the laneways too – graffiti! The city's urban art is world famous with some works having been declared untouchable by the National Trust and Heritage Victoria. On top of this, the City of Melbourne annually commissions temporary works of art to beautify the more drab lanes. These works have included 30 ringing public telephones mounted high up on a laneway wall and a four metre high statue of surveyor Robert Hoddle.
When Hoddle ‘designed' Melbourne's city centre, he never planned the laneways. But when gold was discovered in the late 1840s, the population increased by 400% and with it came service lanes and alleyways. By 1856, the CBD had 80 named lanes and 112 unnamed rights of way. At the end of the 19th century, these lanes were home to prostitution, gambling and opium lounges.
From AC/DC Lane (yes, named after the band) to Windsor Place, these once dark and dangerous alleys are now full of surprises. Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, Chinatown and the Royal Arcade are just a few of the hidden gems.
If you love shopping, eating or a great cup of coffee, you'll love these now gentrified laneways.