Melbourne's laneways sprang up as early settlers subdivided the large blocks on the original grand city plan into more manageable proportions, building smaller scale shops and homes along them. Many were then informally named after the pubs or hotels on the corners, while others simply took their names from the trades carried on in them.
Melbourne – Been There

Finding happiness in Melbourne’s laneways

Photo by Andrew Watson

Melbourne – Been There Finding happiness in Melbourne’s laneways

Melbourne’s inner city laneways, narrow brick alleys which were languishing for decades, are now one of the city’s biggest attractions. Some have become highly successful, transformed into prime real estate.

Sue Bryant
Sue Bryant Travel Writer

Hardware Lane really buzzes, not least due to the presence of Campari House, a famed Italian bistro that has been here since 1968. The rest of the lane is an eclectic mix; a meditation center, an outdoors store and a Vietnamese restaurant, from which garlic aromas waft enticingly.

“In the laneways you feel at home because you are gathering in a small space, like gathering around a fire,” says Melbourne urban planner Gilbert Rochecouste. “We have forgotten the art of small. Small is beautiful. People become humans again.”

I stop for lunch in tiny Postal Lane, named because it runs along the back of the gracious old General Post Office, built in 1859, the building’s shell retained to house an upscale shopping center. I slurp noodles in a ramen bar overlooked by ancient signs that have been left on the solid brick walls; one says “Beware of motor cars” while another bids passersby to “Commit No Nuisance”.

“There is a sense of discovery, a sense of moments,” says Gilbert. “Those things are very rare in life and the laneways give a taste of that, of what is possible, of how to live in communities. They make people happy and that is our greatest journey: the one towards happiness.”

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Centre Place, one of the alleys known as laneways in Melbourne, has become well known for its street art and graffiti, as well as its cafés, restaurants, bars and shops. It was one of the first laneways targeted by the city government in a 1980s revitalization project to attract small retailers to the city center. Photo by Mark Eden / Alamy

Mark Eden

Mark Eden

Agency
Alamy

Centre Place, one of the alleys known as laneways in Melbourne, has become well known for its street art and graffiti, as well as its cafés, restaurants, bars and shops. It was one of the first laneways targeted by the city government in a 1980s revitalization project to attract small retailers to the city center.

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