Australia’s Wild Public Art Walk

Josh Gollings / Arcaid / Corbis

Melbourne’s Docklands has turned a wasteland into an art haven.

Just 12 years ago, Melbourne’s Docklands area was a windswept wasteland. What a difference a decade (and publicly funded art) can make. Strolling along the city’s waterfront these days, you’ll pass candy-colored architectural confections that double as playgrounds, a giant weather vane that resembles a galaxy of spinning spheres and a 108-foot-high anchor that seems to hover in thin air. At last count, the Docklands Public Art Program featured 39 installations, including the biggest attraction, Webb Bridge (pictured), designed by artist Robert Owen and architects Denton Corker Marshall. Snaking its way across the Yarra River, the 738-foot pedestrian and cyclist span suggests a fishnet Slinky—or, as DCM director Adrian FitzGerald calls it, “a mesh cocoon that you can move through.” Either way, it’s the perfect setting for a 21st-century Australian walkabout.