ELIZABETH Wood took an extensive series of black and white photographs of the lanes in central Ballarat in 2002.
The images capture the remarkable but largely unseen role that the lanes played in the operation of the city.
Ms Wood researched the history of the lanes, unearthing their stories which she has now published in her book Narrow Ways – Lanes in the CBD of Ballarat.
“I was an art teacher and I loved things that have texture,” said Ms Wood.
“I was walking in one of the lanes one day and thought ‘I really like that’, so I got my camera and started photographing.”
The photos were left alone for some time until Ms Wood decided to do some research.
Through black and white photographs, the textures and patterns of the buildings and pavements come to life giving the lanes an eerie empty jack-the-ripper feel about them.
This makes it easy to imagine Unicorn Lane, when Ms Wood quotes The Argus from November 1873, ‘with a pestilential drainage problem and an abominable source of foul smells causing serious odour and health problems.’
Bluestone paving worn by cart wheels, sealed up doors and windows suggesting past uses and beautifully crafted brick and stonework reveal a rich, but unseen world of bustling activity that occupied these places.
In the book the lane’s stories detail origins, names, purposes, people and sometimes bizarre events associated with them.
Hundreds of businesses and identities of Ballarat are connected to the lanes and many of their stories are included in the book.
“In Drury Lane, off the Mall, you can see the wheel marks of carts in the bluestone,” said Ms Wood.
“McKenzie Lane was between two buildings that Mr McKenzie owned, and I guess it was just for him to get his produce down there.”
Ms Wood said everyone takes photos of Ballarat’s architecture but they don’t look at the lanes, these are the other parts of the city that are just as relevant.
“I would like to encourage people to walk along them and think about the history that is around,” she said.
“I love the play of light in the lanes, there is so much to see.”
Ms Wood is a fan of the lamp shade decorated lane off Camp Street leading down to The Lost Ones Basement Bar and the red and white umbrellas sheltering the unnamed lane running off Armstrong Street North towards Hop Temple “I love the new use of the lanes,” Copies of Narrow Ways – Lanes in the CBD of Ballarat can be purchased in Ballarat at Ballarat Books, Collins Booksellers, the Art Gallery of Ballarat shop and at Craig’s Royal Hotel.