The ultimate visitor’s guide to Melbourne’s Brighton Bathing Boxes – the historic and colourful attractions on the city’s beaches.

Brighton Beach is the first stop on our Phillip Island tour. We visit the beach to marvel at the long row of colourful bathing boxes. Also known as beach boxes, they have a long history on Melbourne’s beaches. It is a great spot to take photos and get a glimpse into the summer lifestyle of Melburnians. 

We’ve put together this Visitor Guide to help you explore this iconic Melbourne attraction. From the history of the boxes, to how to get there, we’ve got you covered with all the details. Plus, if you want to visit on a tour – you can check out the details of our Phillip Island tour. It not only visits the Brighton Bathing Boxes, but Moonlit Sanctuary and the world famous Penguin Parade as well.

What are Melbourne’s Brighton Bathing Boxes?

The bathing boxes were originally built along Brighton’s beaches to allow for modest bathing. At the time changing at the beach was not acceptable. The solution was to have a private bathing box in which to get changed. 

Today there are 90 bathing boxes at Brighton Beach. They are painted in many different colours and designs. The bathing boxes are privately owned by local residents and mainly used during the warmer summer months. Mostly the boxes are used to store chairs, beach umbrellas and fishing equipment. Often over summertime a few of the boxes are put up for sale by the owners. In recent years they have attracted record prices, such as $340,000.

Where is Brighton Beach?

Brighton Beach is located in Brighton, a leafy beach-side suburb nestled 11kms south-east of Melbourne’s CBD. You can get there by car, by bus, or by train. You can also join us on a Phillip Island Day Tour from Melbourne to visit with your own tour guide in one of our coaches. 

History of the Brighton Bathing Boxes 

Indigenous History 

The Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung peoples were the First Nations Australians who inhabited the area now known as Melbourne. They are the traditional owners of the Yarra River catchment and surrounding areas. We recognise their continuing connection to the land and waters, and thank them for protecting this coastline and its ecosystems since time immemorial. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

These clans of the Kulin Nation have a relationship with the land that extends back tens of thousands of years to when their creator spirit ‘Bunjil’ formed their people, the land and all living things. Their culture and traditions survive amongst people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung today. What is now Brighton Beach was land on which these First Nations people lived. 

European Settler History 

It was in the 1830s that groups of pastoral pioneers crossed Bass Strait from Tasmania. They came in search of fertile grazing land. It was John Batman’s expedition in 1835 that started settlement in the area now known as Melbourne. 

From a small farming colony, the population grew during the Gold Rush of the 1850’s and 60’s. This brought many settlers from all over the world and as a result, the city’s population boomed. Though the gold mining was widespread, the wealth from the Gold Rush was centred around Melbourne.

The first of Melbourne’s Bathing Boxes 

The Europeans brought with them many new traditions – including bathing at the bay beaches. However, at the time it was considered inappropriate to change at the beach. As such, many bathing boxes were built on the beaches around Port Phillip Bay.  

In 1906 a tram line was built from Melbourne to Brighton. This triggered a significant increase in applications for bathing box permits to be built on Brighton Beach. By the 1930’s there were more than 100 bathing boxes in the area.

In 1930’s many of the bathing boxes from nearby beaches were relocated to Brighton Beach, where many of them still stand today. 

Visiting Brighton Beach on Tour 

You can visit Brighton Beach on our Phillip Island day tour from Melbourne. It is our first stop on the tour and just a short drive from the city centre. In addition it is a great place to take photos and stroll along the sand to admire the many different designs.  

Brighton Beach is not the only stop on our Phillip Island tour. Here are some of the other highlights:

  • Take a guided tour of the award-winning Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
  • Meet and feed a wide range of Australian animals including koalas, wombats, dingoes, and more
  • Tour Point Grant for views of the Nobbies and Seal Rocks
  • Visit the Penguin Parade to witness thousands of Little Penguins returning from the ocean to their burrows in the dunes

Frequently Asked Questions

Where else can I see bathing boxes near Melbourne?

Melbourne’s Brighton Beach has the largest concentration of bathing boxes in the area. There are almost 90 boxes lined up along the one beach. However, other beaches along the Mornington Peninsula have bathing boxes as well. These can be viewed on our Mornington Peninsula Tour.

Other coastal attractions near Melbourne

In addition to Brighton Beach’s colourful bathing boxes, there are many other coastal attractions near Melbourne. Therefore, if you want to see what Melbourne’s coastline has to offer on a day tour, we recommend these great locations.

12 Apostles

The famous limestone rock formations known as the 12 Apostles are situated along the Great Ocean Road. The views from the Lookout platform show the limestone stacks, towering cliffs and the wild Southern Ocean. It is an iconic location that can be visited on our Great Ocean Road Tour or Sunset Tour of the Great Ocean Road.

Little Penguins

The nightly Penguin Parade at Phillip Island is where you can view the world’s smallest penguins up close. It is a magical experience to see the penguins waddle right past your feet as they make there way from the ocean to their nests in the sand dunes. You can visit the Penguin Parade on our Phillip Island Day Tour from Melbourne. 

Surf Beaches 

Close by Melbourne are some world famous beaches along Surf Coast. This area is famous for its surf culture and many great surf breaks. To view the famous waves and visit the beaches of the Surf Coast, join us on a Great Ocean Road day tour or Sunset Tour of the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne.


Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator