The newest attraction on our Phillip Island Day Tour from Melbourne is the colourful and iconic bathing boxes at Phillip Island. 

You’ve surely seen the pictures but have you ever wondered, what makes these beach boxes so iconic to Melbourne? There is no denying that the Brighton beach boxes are a popular Bayside icon and cultural asset to beautiful Melbourne.  

You can now visit Brighton Beach on our Phillip Island tour to marvel at the long row of colourful beach boxes. It is a great spot for photos and it has an interesting history.

The iconic seascape is immediately recognisable to the bayside area and proves to be a popular landmark for weddings, holiday makers, photographers & travellers from all over the globe.

Learn about the new addition to our Phillip Island Tour

What is the history of Melbourne’s bathing boxes?

The Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung peoples were the Indigenous Australians who inhabited the Yarra River catchment and land surrounding eastern Port Phillip Bay and Western Port. 

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.

In the 1830s groups of pastoral pioneers arrived and settled in the area. A few decades later the Gold Rush brought many more settlers from all over the world. From around the 1860’s bathing boxes were built on the waters edge at locations around Port Phillip Bay.  

Originally the boxes were used as ladies’ changing sheds in the 1800s, until the council took over management in 1877. Since then the boxes have survived the bayside elements – although a few have reportedly washed away over time. 

Who owns Melbourne’s bathing boxes at Brighton Beach 

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. 

Today the bathing boxes remain almost unchanged. All retain classic timber framing weatherboards and corrugated iron roofs, licensees’ have the freedom to express their artistic flair by painting them – however, colours and designs still need to be cleared by the local council. 

Therefore the bathing boxes are painted in many different colours and different designs. In summertime it is common to see the beach and the beach boxes in use. Mostly the boxes are used to store chairs, beach umbrellas and fishing equipment. 

Today, to own one of these iconic boxes you are looking at upwards of $300,000 for what is essentially a shed, with no running water or electricity. 

Owning a bathing box in the Melbourne area – either at Brighton Beach or the Mornington Peninsula – is considered a sign of wealth. It is exclusive beach property and there are limited numbers. This has made prices increase over the years. 

Many bathing boxes have been owned by families and passed through the generations for many years. The Brighton Beach Boxes can only be owned by local ratepayers and have reached record prices of over $300,000 per box. 

Facts about the Brighton Beach Boxes:

  • The boxes do not have electricity or running water
  • You must be a Bayside ratepayer to buy a bathing box
  • Licensees cannot rent or sublet their bathing boxes
  • Licensees cannot sleep in or use their bathing boxes as accommodation
  • Bathing box designs cannot be used as adverting, or painted in colours to advertise a business.

How to visit Brighton Beach 

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

In addition to the bathing boxes, here are some of the other highlights of our Phillip Island tour

  • 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

Where else can you see bathing boxes near Melbourne?

In addition to seeing bathing boxes at Brighton Beach, you can view them along the Mornington Peninsula as well. They were originally built in this seaside region for the same purpose – to be used as change rooms at the beach. 

You can view bathing boxes on our Mornington Peninsula Tour. In towns such as Dromana and Mt Martha you can see the colourful beach huts lined up alongside the bay. It is great for photos and for discovering the history of the area, as well as the summer pastimes today. 

The boxes along the Mornington Peninsula are individually owned by local Melbourne residents and mainly used for storing beach gear such as towels, beach chairs and umbrellas.


Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator