The 90 brightly coloured bathing boxes that line the foreshore at Brighton beach are one of Melbourne’s icons and a popular tourist attraction.

The beach boxes, which date back to the early 1900s, are located only 15km from Melbourne’s CBD and about a 10 minute walk from Brighton’s premier shopping precinct on Church St.

They provide a cultural and historical resource that is frequently used by visitors for artwork, including photography, paintings and drawings.

According to the Brighton Bathing Box Association, the bathing boxes are particularly unique because of their uniform scale and proportion, building materials, sentry order alignment and a Planning Scheme Heritage Overlay on a beach owned by Bayside City Council.

The bathing boxes are simple structures, and they all retain classic Victorian architectural features with timber framing, weatherboards and corrugated iron roofs.

“They remain as they did over one hundred years ago, as licensed bathing boxes. No service amenities such as electricity or water are connected,” the association said.

“Although approximately 1,860 bathing boxes, boatsheds and similar structures are located around Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, the Brighton bathing boxes are the only remaining structures of their kind close to the Melbourne central business district.”

Brighton Beach - Beach Houses

But the rules for owning a bathing box are strict. To be eligible to buy a Dendy St beach bathing box, the person must be a Bayside ratepayer and pay the council an annual fee for their use.

Owners also cannot paint their bathing box any colour they wish – Bayside City Council and the Brighton Bathing Box Association provide guidelines which must be adhered to. The designs and colours of a bathing box must not be used as advertising, or be painted in colours to advertise a business.

Licensees are not allowed to rent or sublet their bathing boxes, and they cannot sleep in or use their bathing boxes as accommodation.

Despite the rules, the popularity for owning a bathing box continues to soar. On December 13, 2014 number 57A sold at auction for $215,000.

Many of the bathing boxes now sell for approximately $200,000, with a record sale fetching $260,000.

Visiting Brighton beach bathing boxes:

  • The beach boxes are located off The Esplanade, at the junction of Dendy St in Brighton, Victoria, Australia
  • Closest train stations: Brighton Beach and Middle Brighton (Sandringham line)