The bathing boxes of Victoria

Along the coasts of Port Phillip Bay and the Western Port colourful boxes are neatly built on the seaside. They are a symbol of the irresistible colours of Victoria's beaches in summer and in all seasons of the year.


You can see them on the beaches of Brighton and Mornington Peninsula where they are notably popular.

Travel back in time to get a deeper insight into the existence of these beach boxes. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Victorian morality was guarded and public behaviour strictly policed. Going to the beach for a swim was bound by norms and codes. A woman was not allowed to reveal a piece of flesh in public or risk the label of being indecent and immoral.

To protect her from the ogling eyes of wicked men around, the bathing machine was invented in England. Because of this machine morality and decency in public baths were then thought to be safe and secure. With the bathing machines, women can change their common clothes to swimwear. Only then were they allowed to wade in the cool waters of the shallows.

A bathing machine was a roofed and walled wooden box with wheels. It was a cart you can roll into the beachside designed to keep the bather from the peering eyes of men on the shores. It was also specially made for women so they keep propriety and decency while bathing in the sea. Such rule was not applied to men though where they could bathe nude in the beach.

Bathing boxes were a common sight in the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Empire. They also existed in France and Italy.

In Australia, bathing boxes were installed in Victoria’s coastlines. Almost two thousand bathing boxes stood on the beaches of Port Phillip Bay and the Western Port. They’re erected in 1862 to keep Victorian morality where mixed bathing was prohibited. There were separate beaches for men and women. But throughout time this separation of sexes on public baths changed.

Of the bathing boxes built during the era, only the ones on the beaches of Brighton remain close to Melbourne’s CBD. They’re on Dendy Street Beach. On Mornington Peninsula, these boxes colourfully adorn the seashores from Mount Eliza to Portsea.

Today, these seaside bathing boxes are famous tourist attractions inviting thousands of visitors every year. Stroll down the beach, feel the sand under your feet, and breathe the fresh ocean breeze. The boxes serve as a backdrop that provides happy hues to your holiday by the beach.

Brighton’s bathing boxes are privately owned and it’s costly to maintain these a box. But no worries because you can still enjoy their views decorating the shores, giving the beach certain liveliness.

To view and to snap some amazing shots of the beach boxes on the shores of Mornington Peninsula, you may like to travel with Wildlife Tours Australia. Check out our 1 Day Mornington Peninsula Wine Tour which includes a visit to the colourful beach boxes, selected wineries, a gourmet farm, and a chocolate factory.


By Kelvene Requiroso, content writer and member of the SEO team of the Melbourne-based Get Lost Travel Group.

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