Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our Lanes - our minor but vital blood vessels

This is facing one of Melbourne's lanes from one of Melbourne's lanes, this particular one being ACDC Lane, named after the Australian rock group in its honour. I was amazed to see once see in Hosier Lane an Asian wedding underway, with graffiti as the backdrop for the nuptials. Hosier Lane had a valuable Banksy stencil, until council  contractors cleaned it off. Though this one was not in a lane, Banksy's work is not respected by plumbers.

While some of our lanes are graffiti art canvases, some are just filled with tables and chairs for outdoor dining. Others have tiny doorways to both tiny and large bars. I believe Laneway Culture was coined to describe what happens in our lanes. For mine, Laneway Culture is overrated, but still, it is a useful word. Somewhat behind Melbourne, Sydney is developing its own Laneway Culture.

Melbourne's lanes have been a very important part of our city. When Hoddle drew up his grid of our city streets, it was insisted by others that the lanes be added. Major thoroughfares are perfect for getting briskly from one part of town to another, but lanes are for wandering, looking around and discovering. City or inner suburbs, if I have the time and there is a lane, I will use it in preference to a street.

The lanes do rather get in the way of developers though. They like to acquire the space to make even larger developments. When Lonsdale House was tragically demolished so too did Calendonian Lane next to it disappear. It will come back though, bigger, to allow large trucks delivery access to whatever is built there. Perhaps this is what Lord Mayor Doyle recreating lanes post or during development. I am not sure how our Lord Mayor imagines history is recreated. Some of the appeal of our lanes is that they are not sterile and neat. The destruction of Calendonian Lane was purely profit motivated.

What to do to save our lanes? Well, you can sign a petition. It is worth going to the site just to see photos of  very different laneways to the one I have included in this post.  Have a peruse. Click on this following link. Melbourne Heritage Action operates with the support of the National Trust Australia (Victoria).

I'll finish with this snip from an email I received, ' Current policies only concern pedestrian access and only fully protects about 10 laneways from being lost – the other 80% of the laneways could be sold or have their character destroyed. Most of the little warehouse buildings that are home to the ‘hidden’ laneways bars and clubs are not protected at all. Recently a whole section of ACDC lane wall was demolished, to be replaced by a grid of apartment balconies. '


  1. I agree. I work in the south end of the CBD where the laneways are well developed and very pleasurable. When Lonsdale House was tragically demolished, I didn't realise/think that Calendonian Lane next to it would disappear as well.

    Sometimes I think the City Council is there to destroy the city, not protect it.

  2. Hello Andrew:
    Too often councils appear to have little or no respect for the traditions of a city for which they are responsible.

  3. I have only heard of these lanes recently. I've been to Melbourne many times but I'm ashamed to say I haven't noticed them. I must have blinkers on. It is a sad tale to hear that they could be destroyed.

  4. Is the "melbourneheritage" link the one to sign the petition? Because I will do that. Lanes need to be preserved, they're part of the life of the city. Adelaide has a few such lanes too, one of them leading to our famous Pancake Kitchen.

  5. Hels, some very nice lanes near where you work, but not all of the lanes are so nice. The grungy utilitarian ones need to be kept too. LM Doyle talks the talk, but seems not to walk to walk.

    JayLa, I expect it is not so different in England. I read today about the private development of public space there.

    Diane, as I said, I think Laneway Culture is a load of the proverbial, but the eating lanes are quite good.

  6. Yes River, just scroll down a bit on the link. I became quite disoriented in an Adelaide lane we stumbled into, which is how they should be.

  7. Tried to sign the petition, but the page won't load. I'll try again on the weekend.

  8. And behind Melbourne and Sydney, Perth's lane way culture is coming along nicely also. I can so see Asian wedding photographs being taken in front of this graffiti, actually it would be pretty cool, quite different from the pretty garden scenario oui!

  9. Good River.

    Grace, I have kind of picked up in some of your posts that laneways are happening there too.

  10. yeah our laneways are quite fabulous and it would be a proper shame to see them destroyed.


Before you change something, find out why it is the way it is in the first place - unknown.