Street art across Australia that’s really worth hitting the road for
By Nicolle White
The silos in Northam, WA, are examples of how street art can help bring new hope. (Supplied: Bewley Shaylor)
From laneways drenched in graffiti to an ever-expanding silo trail breathing life into country towns, Australia has an eclectic mix of street art bound to compel even the firmest non-believers in the power of paint.
Here are some of our most iconic, powerful and biggest pieces that are worthy of a visit.
An accidental wombat
When artist Jimmi Buscombe drew a wombat emerging from what appeared to be a hole in a bridge at Warrnambool, he expected it to wash off with the next rain.
“I probably should have got permission but I thought I’ll just go have an experiment — it’s only chalk, it’s gonna last a couple of days, if it rains it’ll come straight off.”
That was until former graffiti removalist Phil Ho spotted it and made things a little more permanent with automotive clear coat.
The story of the two unlikely collaborators has certainly captured the imagination, with more than 42 million people having watched their tale on Facebook.
Southern Hemisphere’s tallest murals
Across the inner suburbs of Melbourne, H-style public housing blocks are scattered across the skyline.
To instil pride and remind the wider community of the people inhabiting the buildings, Matt Adnate painted the faces of four residents across one of the 20-storey buildings in Collingwood.
Badria Abdo, an Oromo woman from Ethiopia, is one of the residents portrayed.
She arrived in Australia in 2006 after more than seven years in a Kenyan refugee camp.
“When I saw my picture here I was very excited, I’m very happy,” she said.
Six stages of Banksia baxteri stand prominent in Ravensthorpe, west of Esperance. (Supplied: Bewley Shaylor)
An innovative idea to turn grain silos into canvases has been injecting much-needed traffic into struggling small regional towns.
In Western Australia’s south, six artworks have been commissioned since 2015 to encourage tourists to visit the region.
The smallest town chosen to feature on the trail has a population of less than 300 people.
Home of street art
The so-called Guerrilla Gardener filled the lane with thousands of tulips. (ABC News: Nicole Mills)
The second inclusion from Melbourne on this list is the undisputed home of street art in Australia — Hosier Lane.
Every inch of its walls are covered with art by local and international artists that form crowds of colour that overwhelm the senses.
And the art isn’t always limited to the walls; earlier this year Joost Bakker, dubbed the Guerrilla Gardener, lined the laneway with 35,000 tulips.
The flowers weren’t good enough to be sold, so Mr Bakker came up with this enjoyable way to ensure they didn’t go to waste.
You never know what might be waiting for you in this public art space.
Redefining a town
Long-time CFS volunteer John Hansen is one of the local heroes depicted. (ABC News: Patrick Martin)
Snowtown in South Australia has long been associated with the series of brutal murders that took place there in the 1990s.
The result has been almost 20 years of stigma and economic struggles, but a new mural celebrating local volunteers and sports stars offers the town hope for a different future.
“It’s just a good thing for Snowtown. Our little community has had dark days in the past and it is great to see, to call in and stop to look at something else,” said Simon McCormack, one of the local sports heroes depicted.
New life for iconic mural
This list has shown how street art can reflect a sense of hope or protest, but one piece in Redfern has long offered a symbol of belonging.
The 40 Thousand Years Mural had been fading since its creation in 1983, but in the wake of gentrification, its significance for the long-standing Indigenous community lived on.
“I saw it and it just really gave me a really strong sense of pride and it was the first public recognition of our long history in this country,” said Donna Ingram, a local who pushed for the restoration.
Indigenous artists, TAFE students and conservationists traced and repainted the mural over six weeks earlier this year, returning it to its former glory.