Brighton Beach – with its iconic, multi-coloured wooden sheds – is one of the most Instagrammed locations in Melbourne.
Take a train ride 20 minutes south of Melbourne’s CBD and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve arrived in some genteel seaside town in Britain.
You won’t find a pier, a fun fair or a mess of beachside bars, but you will find a seemingly quintessentially British invention adding a splash of colour to the shores of Port Phillip Bay.
The iconic, multi-coloured Brighton Beach Bathing boxes – with their classic timber framing, weatherboards and corrugated iron roofs – are so significant that they’ve recently been added to the State’s Heritage Register.
Originally used as ladies’ changing sheds in the 1840s, these pocket-sized boxes are now among Melbourne’s most exclusive and, on a square metre basis, expensive real estate.
About 35 years ago you could buy one of these sand shacks for around $A3,200. Today they cost well over $A300,000. Although what people are really buying is a lease agreement with the local council.
That’s a big outlay considering you can’t sleep in them and there’s no power or water. But come summer, what better place to stow your esky and your beach gear while watching the sun go down?
There were calls for the structures to be demolished in the 1950s and again in the 1970s when they fell into disrepair. Thankfully, they were saved and painted in the iconic bright colours we see today, with about 90 sheds lining the beach.
As well as being historically significant, the sand shacks are an aesthetically and socially important feature of this part of Melbourne.
They’re also among the most photographed locations outside the CBD, attracting visitors in their thousands from all over the world each year.
“Images of the Brighton bathing boxes, in many cases with Melbourne’s skyline featured in the background, are iconic to the state,” a Heritage Council report found.
Dendy Street Beach at Brighton is 13km south of the Melbourne CBD. Take a train from Flinders Street station (the Sandringham line) to Brighton Beach Railway Station. The trip takes about 20 minutes and it’s just a 500 metre walk to the beach on arrival. By bus, take the 216 or the 219 bus from Melbourne’s CBD to Brighton Beach.