The best bathroom graffiti Melbourne has to offer
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19.06.2024

The best bathroom graffiti Melbourne has to offer

words by sam beros

Anyone that’s been to at least one gig can attest to it.

Hiding within every bar in Melbourne lies a vast and sprawling world of bathroom graffiti. From suburb to suburb, heartfelt messages and piss takes alike find their home on frayed walls state-wide.

Being quite the gig hopper myself, I’ve been around it fairly often, but my curiosity got the better of me the other week. Following a pang of inspiration, I decided I would set out in search of the weirdest and wackiest etchings around.

Before properly embarking on my journey, I had a show to catch at The Old Bar, so I made sure to snap up a couple gems before the real search began.

My first dedicated day brought me to Brunswick’s Sydney Rd, and very early on, it proved to be a treasure trove. In barely two hours, I was able to swing by five venues. Five! 

I learned quickly that I couldn’t rely on every spot to reap rewards. There are many things to appreciate about the new and improved NONO, but their bathroom graffiti game could afford to slim down on the promo.

Next up was The Retreat Hotel, which brought sage advice and fragile self-awareness. Special mention to the staff, who shared my enthusiasm.

Next would have been Brunswick Artists’ Bar, but I found out that they weren’t going to be open for another hour, so I improvised. I’m glad I did.

Stay Gold, despite being a newer venue, were making good pace. The band rooms weren’t open when I nabbed these, providing me an opportunity to suss out both the men’s and women’s spaces. Each had their own distinct energies.

Following was The Bergy Seltzer, which hosted one setup and many punchlines.

By then, Brunswick Artists’ Bar were ready for business. After a quick chat, venue manager Adam led me to the goods: a humble, solitary illustration that made itself known the second I opened the door.

That saw the end of day one. Everything had been running smoothly to this point, but I wanted to up the ante. The following week, I sourced the help of a friend, and we traversed our way across another nine spots around Melbourne.

It made for a pretty sweet excuse to go bar hopping, to be fair.

The Toff In Town made for a solid start to the night. The last image was the highlight – if crass unity had a dictionary definition, it’d be bonding over favourite four-letter words.

If awards were given out for bathroom graffiti, The Curtin would have Most Prolific in the bag. It was sharpie on sharpie in the men’s upstairs. The women’s had their fair share of hits, too.

Unfortunately, after The Curtin, it began to look like we’d peaked early. Places we were sure would have something clever underdelivered, or even worse, recently had their walls cleaned. We made our way from the CBD into Fitzroy in dull spirits.

Thankfully, the suburb held what might have been our best find: a stars-and-all review of the Bar Open bathrooms. Their other offerings were surprisingly wholesome, when they weren’t ruminating on the end of all things.

After Bar Open, we browsed around Collingwood and Richmond to no avail. By the time we’d finished up, there were just too many people around for us to get away with taking photos in public bathrooms like we had been.

But between the support of the venue owners and the joy that arose from such an absurd mission, we left with victory in our hearts. The journey had been well worth it.

I’ll leave you with one last. A play on a classic, brought to you by patrons at Nighthawks.

For an extensive list of Melbourne’s best bars, head here.