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Brighton Bathing Boxes

Home > Melbourne > Day Trips | Family | Free | Outdoor | Places of Interest
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I am a travel writer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and food! I love travelling and discovering hidden gems... experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass
Published February 12th 2020
Melbourne’s seaside getaway is a collective work of art


Since the late nineteenth century, Brighton has always been Melbourne's favourite seaside destination. Located 17km of foreshore to Port Phillip Bay, and nestled on Dendy Street Beach, the iconic Brighton Bathing Boxes can be seen.



The 82 Brighton Bathing Boxes are packed with a rich history as well as being unique due to their uniform scale and proportion, building materials, sentry order alignment, and Planning Scheme Heritage Overlay.



These vibrant, multi-coloured boxes that line the shore have simple structures that retain classic Victorian architectural features, which include timber framing, weatherboards, and corrugated iron roofs. When viewed together, the boxes turn the beachscape into a wonderland of collective work of art that changes by the hour according to season, light and colours.



What makes this point of attraction more special is that the Bathing Boxes remain as they did over 100-years ago, as licensed bathing boxes as well as being a functional remnant of a bygone era, that provides a cultural and historical resource that is constantly being photographed, painted or drawn. Even though there are roughly around 1,860 bathing boxes, boatsheds and similar structures located around Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes are the only remaining structures of their kind close to Melbourne Central Business District.



In the late 1840s, stately homes were built in an area known as 'The Terrace', now called the Esplanade, overlooking Dendy Street Beach. In 1862, bathing boxes began to exist in Brighton, and most of the bathing boxes were built on the water's edge at the end of the Bay Street and between Park and Wellington Streets.



After the tramline from St Kilda to Brighton was completed in 1906, there was a significant increase in applications for Brighton Bathing Boxes permits and construction, and it's recorded that before the Great Depression there were around 100-200 boxes.



During 1931-1960, due to the Great Depression, the State Government initiated a work program to reduce unemployment by building a semi-continuous bluestone foreshore promenade. In 1934, many of the Bathing Boxes were moved back again, back from high water to their present position.

There are 82 Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes, and eighteen non-commercial boatsheds within the City of Bayside. The former city of Sandringham ordered a near total removal of all like structures over a period of 50 years commencing in 1934, due to severe storms that caused many to wash away.



Post-WWII conservationist opposition and lobbying changed the Council's policy to favour removal thereby exacerbating 'owner' neglect. After WWII, beach sand disappeared and at least five bathing boxes were destroyed.

With over a hundred years of history, these vibrant, multi-coloured beach boxes were the answer to Victorian notions of morality when it came to seaside bathing.



Today, the Bathing Boxes still retain their charm and classic architectural features and keeping up with the century-old history, the boxes do not have running water or electricity, keeping them part of the city's past.

Despite the lack of amenities, the Bathing Boxes offer a spectacular view - an element that attracts hundreds of visitors from all around the world.



The Brighton Bathing Boxes offer eye-popping contrasts to the turquoise waters of the ocean, as well as offering beautiful panoramic views out across Port Phillip Bay, which are second to none.

This ever-distinctive attraction makes for a perfect day out. After admiring the Bathing Boxes, you can marvel at the breathtaking views of Melbourne's city skyline, which is just 13km away.
Discover the "bright" charm of the Brighton Bathing Boxes and get lost admiring each one, as well as enjoying the tranquillity of Brighton Beach.

The rainbow boxes are memorable and offer a different point of interest near Melbourne.



Brighton is a laidback coastal suburb, however, still being prestigious thanks to its east side location. With this combination, there are many things to do in the area.

Below is a list of things to do around Brighton Bathing Boxes:

This might be an obvious one- enjoy the beach! The beach is called Dendy Street Beach and runs across the uninterrupted gold sand shoreline for 500 metres.

Brighton is filled to the brim with local op shops. Snap a bargain or unearth some quality, pre-loved goods.

Billilla Mansion is significant to Brighton due to its distinctive Edwardian rather than Victorian appearance. Records show that Robert Wright (a successful miner) built, owned and occupied the thirteen-room residence in 1878. Over the next ten years, the property passed through a number of hands, and in 1888 it was purchased by pastoralist William Weatherly who named the property Bililla.

Weatherly remodelled the house and made alterations and
extensions to the mansion in the typical Art Noveau style.



The property is now leased by Xavier College, however, the
gardens are open to the public all year round.

The amazing cafes. There is a multitude of options to choose from, including the much loved Brighton Soul or Little Tommy Tucker Café. The Fish Tank Fish and Chippery will complete a great day out at the beach with fish & chips!

Bay Street and Church Street for independent boutique stores.

The Bay Trail located north is where you will find the Royal Brighton Yacht Clun, as well as the dog-friendly beach. If you go another kilometre along the trail, you will find the North Road Playground.

Brighton Beach Gardens and Foreshore Reserve is another attraction to check out. South of the beach at Green Point is where you can also find the Cenotaph. The Heritage-Listed Cenotaph was completed in 1927 as a memorial to Brighton residents who lost their lives during WWI and hosts Remembrance Day and Anzac Day ceremonies.



Getting to Brighton Bathing Boxes:

By Train: Sandringham line from central Flinders Street Station- takes around 20 minutes, and you alight at Brighton Beach Railway. From here, it is a 500m walk passing pretty scenery to the Bathing Boxes.

By Bus: Catch 216 or the 219 from Melbourne's CBD.

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Why? Explore one of Melbourne's favourite beachside attractions
When: All year round
Where: Dendy Street Beach, Esplanade, Brighton
Cost: Free
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