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March 24, 2016

Melbourne Street Laundromat live

Far from being just a fluorescent stop-off for students and shift workers, Melbourne Street Laundromat - with its live music and performance art - is much more than the sum of its coin operated parts.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Jackson Fenby
  • Live music photos: Supplied

Initially, Melbourne Street Laundromat’s owner Matt Farrell bought into the laundromat game as a reliable source of passive income.


Melbourne Street Laundromat is open 24 hours at 80 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide and will accept $1 coins.

The coin-operated pinball machines and internet kiosks he once owned were quickly becoming relics of the past, superseded by smartphones offering a broader array of entertainment without the need to regularly dig into your pocket for change (they link to your iTunes account instead).

What people will always need though, Matt thought, was a place to wash and dry their clothes; whether they be tight-budgeted students not willing to splash out on whitegoods, interstate visitors who thought their carry-on luggage would get them through a ten-day stay, or campers and caravaners emerging briefly from the wilderness/shoulder of a highway in desperate need of any form of detergent.

Housed behind the blue frontage, however, is a space more versatile than the bay of washing machines suggests.

“I always wanted it to be a bit of a community hub and have a personality in itself,” Matt explains.

Along with installing the necessary coke and coffee vending machines, Matt also brought art into the space.

“I’ve got a lot of friends who are musicians who come down and hang out with me while I clean the place… then they go ‘hey, let’s have a gig in here!’” Matt says.

“I’m like ‘yeah alright, whatever’, and… then we got approached last year by the Adelaide Art Walk… and it eventually turned out that one of the artists painted a mural over the three weeks.

“I’ve had people do modeling shoots, I’ve had people do photo shoots, this Fringe just gone I had three shows in [here], then I have gigs every now and then because my friends like playing music and they like the laundromat as a venue because it’s a little bit different.”

Matt also offers a few more services than your run-of-the-mill laundromat, providing a book exchange and free wifi to anyone who stops by, as well as 24-hour access to the machines.

“Lifestyles across the board have changed so much,” Matt says. “It’s not a 9-to-5 culture anymore; people work earlier, they work later, they work splits shifts, students, nurses, travellers, everyone’s all over the shop. So if I can be open 24 hours, that helps people out.”

While Matt has no upcoming gigs set in stone, he tells CityMag there are some ideas rolling around for what will happen in the next six months, but he’s also open to suggestions.

“Basically, if people want to do something, all they have to do is call me up and say ‘hey, can I do this?’ I’m pretty easy-going when it comes down to it.”

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