Exploring Adelaide’s City of Music Laneways Trail
Adelaide’s City of Music Laneways is an ongoing art project, paying homage to Australian musicians who hail from South Australia. Discover where you can find the artworks and what to do nearby.
In many ways, the city of Adelaide is Australia’s best kept secret (which you could say for the entire state of South Australia, really).
The food scene is off the hook, the city is adorned with cool and quirky art and there’s always an event – large or small – taking place.
The city’s rich musical history hasn’t gone unnoticed by UNESCO, at least. Adelaide was recognised as a UNESCO City of Music in 2015 (another ‘recognised’ and equally underrated city in Australia is Bendigo in Victoria, which is a City and Region of Gastronomy. Yum, yum, yum).
This has prompted City of Adelaide to launch an official project renaming small laneways throughout the city, to honour renowned musicians hailing from South Australia.
Along with the name change, each lane features urban art inspired by and dedicated to the musician or musical group in question.
It’s a really lovely homage to these artists, their careers and their impact on greater Australian culture.
As this initiative was only launched in 2021 (and is still a work-in-progress), only four laneways have been completed, with a fifth on the list.
This shouldn’t stop you from taking a wander around the city centre, to check out these works of art and learn a little about the musicians who inspired them.
And here’s what you can get up to if you’re spending 3 days in Adelaide (or more).
Adelaide’s City of Music Laneways
Sia Fuller Lane
Sia as she is mononymously known, is one of Australia’s best-known musical exports of recent years.
She’s a nine-times Grammy nominee (geez, just give her one already) and has worked with some of the biggest names in the biz. She’s known for her eclectic live performances and somewhat bizarre music videos.
And it all started in Adelaide. There was once a venue called the Cargo Club on Hindley Street West and it was here that Sia used to perform regularly with her ‘acid jazz’ band Crisp.
So it’s fitting that Sia Furler Lane is located right near where this venue used to be, next to the Rockford Hotel and Jam Factory.
The laneway is marked by a towering, colourful mural by artist Jasmine Crisp (just like Sia’s former band!). You’ll find ‘She Imagined Buttons’ (2020) on the side of the Rockford Hotel, corner of Hindley and Morphet Streets.
A longtime fan, Crisp first saw Sia perform at the sadly now defunct national festival Big Day Out in Adelaide, 2011 – one of the first live music acts the artist had been to.
Her rendition of Sia is homage to this defining moment.
After viewing the work, I recommend taking a stroll down Hindley Street to have a meal or drink at cafe/bar Peter Rabbit.
Cold Chisel Lane
Cold Chisel are one of Australia’s biggest names in music.
They got together in Adelaide in 1973 – the original line-up included Les Kaczmarek, Ian Moss, Don Walker, Steve Prestwich and Jimmy Barnes. Les left in 1975 and Phil Small took his place.
Despite breaking up in 1983, they’ve left an indelible mark on the Australian music scene. They’ve reformed several times and band members went on to have successful careers as solo performers or working with other acts in Australia and around the world.
They were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1993 and their debut single ‘Khe Sanh’ is considered to be one of the greatest Australian songs of all time. An unofficial anthem, it tells the story of an Australian Vietnam veteran’s return to civilian life.
Considered ‘patriotic’, it’s awkwardly become a protest song for conservative groups, played at their rallies – to the point where frontman Jimmy Barnes has had to ask these groups to please stop doing this.
The second art project in this series, Cold Chisel Lane was previously an unnamed, small laneway behind Hindley St. Artist James Dodd has painted a series of quotes from fans, in vibrant colours reminiscent of the song ‘Flame Trees’.
I highly recommend popping into nearby Sunny’s Pizza for a slice of, well, pizza or grabbing a drink at Cry Baby Bar.
And don’t miss the wall of toy cars located in nearby Rosina Lane. Adelaide has some pretty whacky urban art.
No Fixed Address Lane
The third Adelaide City of Music Laneway celebrates Indigenous band No Fixed Address (NFA).
This reggae rock band have been around since 1979, forming at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM), which is part of the University of Adelaide. Their music details the everyday experiences of Aboriginal people and as a result, can be quite politically charged.
The band comprises of Ricky Harrison, Les Graham, John Miller and frontman Bart Willoughby. Former members are Nicky Moffatt, Rick Lovegrove and Veronica Rankine. Most hail from South Australia.
NFA were trailblazers in many ways. The first reggae rock group in Australia, the first Indigenous band to break into mainstream music, and too were the first to tour overseas.
Splitting in 1984, they have performed on and off since then, reuniting in 2016, despite some former members having passed away. They were inducted into the National Indigenous Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2011 and the SA Music Hall of Fame in 2016.
No Fixed Address Lane is one of the easiest to locate, being just off Rundle Mall, next to the Rundle Place building (formerly known as Lindes Lane).
The artwork features band members, depicted in grey, black and white, against a backdrop of vibrant colour.
This collaborative mural is the work of artists Elizabeth Close (a Pitjanjatjara and Yankunytatjara woman), Thomas Readett (a Ngarrandjeri and Arrente man) and Shane Cook (a Guwa and Wulli Wulli man).
While there, grab a drink or a slice of pizza (seeing a trend here) at Remy’s Deep Dish Pizza & Bar.
Paul Kelly Lane
Paul Kelly AO is basically a national treasure, so it’s only fitting that he’s celebrated as part of the Adelaide City of Music Laneways project.
Born in Adelaide, Kelly has had a prolific career, performing solo and both collaborating with and leading numerous musical groups.
Many of his songs are based around historical events or Indigenous Australian social issues, such as Treaty (co-written and produced with musical group Yothu Yindi), and From Little Things Big Things Grow.
He’s won 16 ARIA Awards and two of his songs (To Her Door and Treaty) have been listed in the APRA Top 30 Australian songs of all time in 2001.
Kelly has also had a long association with Melbourne, with many of his songs paying homage to the city. There’s a fantastic mural of the musician, writer and poet in the suburb of St Kilda where he lives, on the side of beloved pub and music venue the Esplanade Hotel (or the ‘Espy’ as it’s locally known).
This work by Scott Marsh is inspired by his song From St Kilda to Kings Cross. As a Sydney to Melbourne transplant myself, this song hits me hard in the feels.
Paul Kelly Lane can be found off Flinders Street, running parallel to King William Street.
It features Street of Love (2022), a work by Heidi Kenyon. This consists a series of lights featuring the words ‘Love’ attached to the light posts lining the lane.
Admire the works while you dine al fresco at Part Time Lover or head around the corner to grab a tipple at Treasury 1860.
The Angels Lane: currently a work-in-progress
At the time of writing, a laneway for band The Angels has been designated as part of this project, but doesn’t actually quite exist.
You’ll find the future currently unnamed laneway off Gawler Place, running parallel to Fisher Place.
The Angels are South Australian-based, founded in 1970 by brothers John and Rick Brewster. They were inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 1998.
You may know them from their hit song Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again? When performed in front of an audience, people tend to respond with their own, creative, curse-ridden answers to the song’s titular question.
While walking the City of Music Laneway Trail, you might want to sing along to the tunes of these legendary rockstars. Luckily, City of Adelaide have put together a Spotify list, for your listening pleasure.
Adelaide continues to be a mecca for music lovers, with plenty of live gigs and festivals. WOMAdelaide and the new-to-2022 Heaps Good Festival are two I’d happily plan entire trips to the city around.
Public artwork in Australia
Art lover? Australia has no shortage of fascinating art projects, and towns filled with vibrant, colourful and quirky urban art.
Check out the following articles for arty inspiration:
- The vibrant street art of Port Adelaide
- Street art in Melbourne: a guide to the city’s colourful laneways
- Discover Benalla: Victoria’s most colourful town
- Guide to the OG Silo Art Trail in Victoria
- Navigating the North East Silo Art Trail in Victoria
- Street art in Perth and some odd sculptures
- The painted sheep of Northampton WA: wool ewe visit?
Have you seen Adelaide’s City of Music Laneways? What do you think of them? For more on Australia, see my Australia Travel Guide.