Image: clarkyonthego via Instagram
Each August, giant crabs, crocodiles, and critters take over Darwin as the world’s best street artists descend and literally transform blank buildings into colourful multi-storey canvasses during the annual Darwin Street Art Festival (DSAF). If you’re heading to the Top End, here’s our pick of the bunch.
Scoot Your Way Around
Back in 2017, in an effort to reinvigorate the tropical capital’s CBD during an economic downturn, the inaugural Darwin Street Art Festival was born. In its first year, no less than eight bold murals transformed bland building walls in and around Darwin and, in the ensuing years, 72 more have been added.
It’s so cool, the DSAF even has their own app, which you can download. And, for the ultimate self-guided tour, take a load off your feed by taking a bright orange Neuron Scooter – perfect for those warmer wet season days. Insider Tip: Want to know more about the art or artist? Simply scan the QR codes next to each piece of art and you’ll have everything you need.
Over the past five years, the festival has transformed what was described as a blank canvas of walls in Austin Lane. The first year saw two pieces added to the lane and now you can’t walk or drive down there without feeling immersed in a massive outdoor gallery with artists from LA to NZ to Australia.
Austin Lane is perhaps the spiritual home of street art in Darwin and where you’ll find the largest of the city’s murals. In our opinion, this is the best place to start your street art exploration and where you’ll see one of the most incredible pieces of art that the festival has produced – a mural of musician and artist, Dr G Yunupingu (Gurrumul), painted by artits Andrew Bourke and Jesse Bell. In the Dry Season, it’s also a lively event space where you’ll find great art, cool pop-up bars and plenty of fun outdoor events.
Along with bringing to Darwin some of the biggest names in street and mural art in the world, DSAF works hard to enable and encourage local artists to increase their skills and be paid for their incredible work. Shadforth Lane (or Locals Lane) – is where the Territory’s finest showcase their talents.
Art is everywhere… from West Lane’s hidden gems to water tanks a non-descript car park in a quiet corner of town where Street Artist Kitt Bennett has created the largest piece of festival art to date - a 1500 square metre skeleton complete with an Hawaiian short and boardies.
Stroll, Snack & Street Art
Darwin Gourmet Tours run a 3.5-hour Gourmet & Art Tour that gives you a great taste of Darwin from the Street art to WWII history and everything in between. Expect to snack on bush tucker, fresh local seafood, NT delicacies like crocodile and see more street art than you can poke a stick at.
And for those tech-heads amongst you, Darwin’s Street Art will literally leap off the canvas thanks to a little futuristic augmented reality enroute.
When it comes to the Top End, you’re spoiled for choice with more than 72 murals dotted around Darwin’s CBD and surrounds. And, if you love your art, why not stay in a hotel that’s joined in the festival fun with some colourful street art of their own.
In 2022, Travelodge Resort Darwin grabbed a slice of festival action when Australian multi-disciplinary artist and large-scale muralist, Lisa King painted a colourful portrait of Larrakia Woman, Artist, and Activist, Mililma May on the outer walls of the hotel. Guest at the Travelodge can also catch glimpses of another spectacular mural on nearby Garamilla Boulevard without leaving the comfort of their hotel.
In 2020, Adina-Vibe Darwin Waterfront also made its festival debut with a wet season-inspired masterpiece. NZ-born artist, sculptor, fand designer Pennyrose Wiggins, who is best known for her colourful cloudscapes painted a five-storey high pastel artwork that paid tribute to the Northern Territory’s famous Wet Season.
Featuring rolling clouds, and no less than 11 birds seen during The Wet season - including the NT’s iconic magpie goose - Pennyrose says the artwork is set to remind people of the life-bringing rains that falls each tropical summer. This artwork can be viewed from the pedestrian Sky Bridge leading to the Darwin Waterfront precinct and from street level.
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