Beaumaris, Victoria

Beaumaris (/bˈmɒrɪs/) is an affluent bayside suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 20 km south-east of Melbourne's central business district.[2] Its local government area is the City of Bayside. At the 2011 Census, Beaumaris had a population of 12,829. It is located on Port Phillip.

Watkins Bay Beaumaris Victoria.jpg
Watkins Bay viewed from Ricketts Point
Beaumaris is located in Melbourne
Coordinates37°58′59″S 145°02′36″E / 37.983°S 145.0434°E / -37.983; 145.0434Coordinates: 37°58′59″S 145°02′36″E / 37.983°S 145.0434°E / -37.983; 145.0434
Population13,349 (2016 census)[1]
 • Density2,567/km2 (6,650/sq mi)
Area5.2 km2 (2.0 sq mi)
Location20 km (12 mi) from Melbourne
LGA(s)City of Bayside
State electorate(s)Sandringham
Federal Division(s)Goldstein
Suburbs around Beaumaris:
Black Rock Cheltenham Cheltenham
Port Phillip Beaumaris Mentone


The 'V' shaped intrusion of land into the Bay that is spearheaded by Table Rock Point is referred to as the Beaumaris 'Peninsula'. The Beaumaris cliffs to the north east of Table Rock are formed by the steeply folded rock layers known as the Beaumaris Monocline, which is considered to be of Tertiary age overlying older structures.[3] These include the underlying Silurian rock known as the Fyansford formation above which is the 15 m thick darker Beaumaris Sandstone, overlain by yellowish Red Bluff Sandstone, as outcrops in the cliffs, ferruginised, with hard ironstone in the upper sections, extending to the platform, and as small reefs parallel to the coastline. A thin calcareous sandstone is overlain by fine sandy marl and sandstone with calcareous concretions. At the base of the sandstone is a thin gravelly bed that includes concretionary nodules of phosphate and iron of which detached nodules may be found around the cliff base.[3][4]

The Monocline can be seen where the cliffs of Beaumaris are locally parallel to the turnover of the monocline, which forms a drainage divide between the Gardners Creek-Dandenong Creeks systems and the Carrum Swamp.[5] Layers in the cliff are almost horizontal, but fold downward almost 30º toward the vertical south-easterly and out to sea.[6] Jagged remains of the strata can be seen off-shore at low tide from the cliff-top walk at the end of Wells Road.[7]

Behind Keefer's Fishermens Wharf the lower level of the cliffs is a fossil site of international significance. Shells, sea urchins, crabs, foraminifera, remains of whales, sharks, rays and dolphins, and also birds and marsupials, dating back to the Late Miocene to Early Pliocene (12 to 6 million years ago) can be found, and have been the subject of a number of papers.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]


Indigenous occupationEdit

The Bunurong (or Boon Wurrung) peoples of the Kulin nation lived along the Eastern coast of Port Philip Bay for over 20,000 years before white settlement.[16] Their mythology preserves the history of the flooding of Port Phillip Bay 10,000 years ago,[17] and its period of drying and retreat 2,800–1,000 years ago.[18] Visible evidence of their shell middens and hand-dug wells remain along the cliffs of Beaumaris, but by the 1850s local aboriginal numbers had dwindled to just over 50.[19]

European settlementEdit

One of the first white settlers was James Bickford Moysey[20] in 1845,[19] who along with several other local settlers had Welsh roots, and he gave the name 'Beaumaris' to his pastoral run after the Welsh Town of Beaumaris (Welsh: Biwmares) on the Isle of Anglesey in the Menai Strait, called 'beaux marais' by Norman-French builders of the castle there, a name which translates as "beautiful marshes". Moysey eventually purchased 32 hectares for his farm.[21] There is a monument on the foreshore opposite the hotel where Moysey had built a house.[22]

Establishment of the suburbEdit

Current day Beaumaris covers two early estates in the parish of Moorabbin developed by Josiah Holloway from 1852. Named Beaumaris Town and Beaumaris Estate after the Moysey holding, the lots comprising them were marketed by Mr Holloway's suggesting that the railway was imminent and a canal would be built.[23]

A Beaumaris Post Office was opened on 1 March 1868, but was renamed Gipsy Village (now Sandringham) office at the end of that month.[24] The township developed slowly, with Beaumaris Hotel, the first shop and civic hall being built in the 1880s. Beaumaris Post Office did not reopen until 1925. In 1957 this was renamed Beaumaris South when a new Beaumaris office opened in the current location. In 1954 Cromer Post Office opened to the north of the suburb.[25]

The 'Great Southern' hotel was built in 1889 as a seaside resort, then in the 1920s was renamed the Beaumaris Hotel.[26] The original structure survived in the Beaumaris bushfires of 1944, only to be extensively rebuilt and extended in 1950 as 'The Beaumaris'. In 2014 the hotel was converted into 58 apartments.[27]

Beaumaris Tram CompanyEdit

Growing oats in Beaumaris, Victoria, for tramways horses

Horse tramwayEdit

At the height of the Victorian land boom in 1887 the Brighton railway line was extended to Sandringham. Thomas Bent, Chairman of Moorabbin Shire Council, keen to stimulate development south of Sandringham sought and received permission to build two tramways from Sandringham station along the coast road to Beaumaris, and from there to Cheltenham railway station, with a branch from Beaumaris continuing down the coast road to Mordialloc; in total more than 15 kilometres of tramline.

The Shire Council contracted the Beaumaris Tramway Company (BTC) in February 1888 for a horse tramway with a 30-year operating lease. The Sandringham to Cheltenham route cost £20,000 and opened that Christmas. At the February 1891 half-yearly meeting of the Beaumaris Tramway Company Limited the Chairman Mr. H. Byron Moore reported that a recent doubling of traffic was coupled to the increasing popularity of cheap rail return tickets to Sandringham issued by the Victorian Railways,[28] nearly 17,000 of which had been issued.[29] The Mordialloc branch line was never built, and after the land boom bubble burst in 1891, development beyond Black Rock ceased for several decades. Holiday traffic kept the business afloat until in 1912 the Beaumaris to Cheltenham section closed, and in 1914 the BTC ceased operation.

There are no remains of the line to be found, but it is remembered by the name of the suburban street that it once used; Tramway Parade, Beaumaris.

Electric tramsEdit

Opening of the Beaumaris end of the electric tramway, 1926

Development from the first decade of the twentieth century of the area between Sandringham and Black Rock prompted formation of a public association to lobby for extension of the Sandringham railway that gained Parliamentary support in 1910, though it was vetoed over the high cost of land resumptions. In both 1913 and 1914 proposals were put forward for an electric tramway from Sandringham to Black Rock but using an inland route in order to preserve the visual amenity of the coastal reserves.[30] In November 1914 an Act enabled this tramway to be owned and operated by Victorian Railways, on standard gauge to cater for any future connection to the main Melbourne system.[31] The line, almost entirely double track, was opened on 10 March 1919 with a small three-road depot at Sandringham railway station yard connecting with the down track in Bay Street. Six crossbench cars with six trailers operated on the tramway, with Elwood Depot maintaining track and rolling stock, joined in 1921 by four new bogie tramcars.[32]

Beaumaris residents' lobbying for an extension of the Black Rock service was considered by the Parliamentary Standing Committee in 1916 and again in 1919, but it was not until 1925 that an agreement was struck between VR and Sandringham City Council for the latter to provide a £2,000 annual operating subsidy to the proposed extension for a period of five years. As a result, construction of the Beaumaris extension commenced, and the single-track line was opened on 1 September 1926. The line ran from the end of Bluff Road in Black Rock, along Ebden Avenue, Fourth Street, Haydens Road, Reserve Road, Holding Street and to the end of Martin Street almost up to the intersection of Tramaway Parade, where a switch allowed the tram to make the reverse trip.[33][34] As the anticipated residential development did not occur, the 'Bush Tramway', as it came to be known, ran at a heavy loss despite the £2,000 operating subsidy, and exactly five years after opening, the Beaumaris extension closed on 31 August 1931.[35] Until the 1960s when roads were surfaced, traces of the asphalt and timber foundations of the tramway remained in the centre of Holding Street.

Sea bathsEdit

Arthur Fox (c.1906–1914) Boys and girls in Edwardian costume paddling at Beaumaris beach, bathing boxes in background. Lantern slide.

Sea baths were constructed in Beaumaris and used for more than thirty years from 1902 to 1934. In the 1890s there were proposals to build fenced and netted baths with changing facilities in the sea at Beaumaris, like those at Sandringham and Brighton Beach, and others at Mentone and Mordialloc which were operated by the Shire of Moorabbin.

Support for the idea came in 1896 from the proprietor of the Beaumaris Hotel Mrs Finlay, who offered £20 per year for use of the baths by her boarders free of charge, and John Keys, the Shire Secretary and Engineer envisaged additional income to the council of £15 from its lease.[36] By August that year, Cr. Smith reported that residents would raise a subscription and requested that plans be drawn up and tenders called.[37] An alternative proposal was to use the hulk Hilaria floated off-shore to house the baths. That caused some dispute but came to nothing, delaying progress until 1902 when tenders were finally called for a conventional bath.

Charles Keefer was ultimately successful in his bid for £105 to build, with additional rooms, the structure planned for a site beneath the cliffs east of Beaumaris Hotel, and it was he who was accepted to lease the baths at a rent of £15. Charges were £1 per annum per person, or a monthly ticket of five shillings, while a single bath cost three pence. Keefer managed both the Beaumaris Baths and a boat hire facility operated from a jetty he constructed nearby until, on 30 November 1934, a storm destroyed the baths,[38] which were never rebuilt.[39] The same storm's destruction of bathing boxes appears in paintings by Beaumaris artist Clarice Beckett.[40]

Factory villageEdit

In 1939, Dunlop Rubber Company purchased 180 hectares of land in Beaumaris, intending to build a large factory and model village in an area bounded by Balcombe Rd, Beach Rd, Gibbs St and Cromer Rd.[41] Plans were shelved a month later with the outbreak of World War II.

1944 bushfiresEdit

In the midst of WW2 and a severe drought came disastrous bushfires on 14 January 1944,[42][43] which killed 51 people across Victoria.[44][45] The maximum temperature in Melbourne that day was 39.5 °C with gusty hot northerly winds driving two fire fronts across the heavily wooded suburb.[46][43] The number of homes destroyed in sparsely populated Beaumaris was reported at between 63 and 100, leaving 'a square mile' burnt out, and 200 homeless.[46] Hundreds of volunteers, including many from the city, with fire brigades from neighbouring suburbs and soldiers who were trucked in, could not control the flames.[47] Householders and holidaymakers cut fire-breaks, but fire leapt every gap,[47] leaving 7 caravans and 5 cars gutted in the caravan park.[48] Scores of people sheltered in the sea for hours from fierce flames in the cliff-top ti-tree, with many suffering exposure as a result and some with severe burns also contracting pneumonia.[47][49]

Although everyone who had lost their homes had been provided with temporary accommodation by the Red Cross and Salvation Army, many in rooms, lounges and corridors of the Beaumaris Hotel that was one of the few buildings left standing,[50] more permanent accommodation was difficult to provide.[51] Damage estimated by the office of the Town Clerk at Sandringham at £50,000 (not including clothing, furniture and other personal effects lost) was done to buildings.[51] The Premier Albert Dunstan convened a special meeting of Cabinet to consider relief measures and, with Sandringham Lord Mayor Councillor Nettlefold, inaugurated a State-wide appeal.[46]

Road surfacing, 1960sEdit

In 1949, architect Robin Boyd in a regular column in Melbourne's The Age noted that:

"Beaumaris has been described as the Cinderella suburb. It is young, beautiful and neglected, by its parent council. Its streets are narrow tracks twisting through thick scrub...A car or two bogs every day somewhere in this most attractive of all Melbourne's new suburbs.[52]

The appearance of the original 'tracks' were recorded in an album by W.L. Murrell, photographer and Hon. Librarian of the Beaumaris and District Historical Trust.[53] Most of the "ti-tree tracks" that roughly followed the street grid of Beaumaris remained unmade until the City of Sandringham realigned and surfaced them in asphalt between concrete kerbs in a campaign during 1961–67. The tree-clearing required was opposed by many residents,[54] but their protests were successful only in Point Avenue, which remained an unmade private road.[55][56]


Elementary education for Beaumaris children in the mid-1800s was provided by the closest 'common school'; a private school started by Frederick and Fanny Meeres in 1855 in a single-room wooden dwelling near the Cheltenham Railway Station.  The school was first named the Beaumaris Wesleyan School. In 1863 it became a public school under the control of the National Schools Board, and in 1864 Henry Wells, George Beazley and Samuel Munby were appointed by the Board to the 'Beaumaris School' on its committee. A Church of England Cheltenham school had also been established on 1 October 1854 in an area 25 minutes walk away and east of Point Nepean Road and north of Centre Dandenong Road. Due to their proximity in 1869 it was to be amalgamated[57][58] with the 'Beaumaris' school, though the former raised religious objections.[59] The Meeres school was relocated onto Crown Land in Charman Road, Cheltenham and in 1872 renamed Beaumaris Common School No. 84. Amongst several others for works in the city and suburbs, the lowest tender at £1055 from Mr George Evans of Ballarat, was publicly accepted in November 1877 by the Education Department for the construction of a brick school at the current site.[60] There it continued as the 'Beaumaris' school until 1885, when it finally became State School No. 84 Cheltenham, the name it retains.

As population in Beaumaris increased so came demands that a school be established within the suburb, so that small children would not need to walk 3.6 km to Charman Road. Subsequently, in May 1915, Beaumaris State School, no.3899, was opened for 41 pupils in the old hall built in the heyday of the 1880s land boom and situated between Martin Street and Bodley Street on the site currently occupied by Beaumaris Bowls Club. The 432sq. metre brick and timber theatre hall had an upper circle and rooms below the stage. The first teacher, from May 1915, was Mrs Fairlie Taylor (née Aidie Lilian Fairlam).[61] It moved in 1917 to its current site in Dalgetty Road as the population of the school grew. Beaumaris North Primary School[62] first opened in 1959 followed by Stella Maris Primary School (Roman Catholic).[63] Beaumaris High School, which opened in 1958, became the Beaumaris Campus of Sandringham College, catering to years 7-10, from 1988 until 2015. A new high school catering for years 7-12, Beaumaris Secondary College, was built on the same site at the corner of Reserve Road and Balcombe Road and opened in January 2018.

Beaumaris Primary School administration building and some of the classrooms were damaged by fire in 1994.[citation needed]


Major thoroughfares in Beaumaris include Balcombe Road, Reserve Road, Beach Road, Haydens Road and Charman Road.

Beaumaris is serviced regularly by the following bus routes:

These routes connect with the Cheltenham, Mentone, and Sandringham railway stations.

Bayside's bike path runs through Beaumaris, alongside Beach Road.

Ricketts PointEdit

Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary, Beaumaris

The most prominent landmarks of this suburb are on its coastline, and include the Beaumaris Cliff, from Charman Road to Table Rock, which is of international importance as a site for marine and terrestrial fossils, and Ricketts Point, which adjoins a 115 hectare Marine Sanctuary and popular beach area. The coastal waters from Table Rock Point in Beaumaris to Quiet Corner in Black Rock and approximately 500 metres to seaward formally became the Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary under state legislation passed in June 2002.

Marine Care Ricketts Point Inc., a volunteer organisation concerned with the preservation of the marine sanctuary, is active at Ricketts Point.

Beaumaris Conservation Society Inc. was founded in 1953 as the Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society[54][64] and has been active since then in championing the conservation of the substantial amount of remaining indigenous vegetation in Beaumaris and its other significant environmental qualities. It is campaigning against a proposal for a large private marina proposed for the Beaumaris Bay Fossil Site.

Ricketts Point is also home to the Beaumaris Life Saving Club,[65] which holds yearly Life Saving Carnivals in the summer.



Commemorative plaque near the foreshore.

Heidelberg schoolEdit

From the late 19th century Beaumaris and its coastal scenery attracted artists. Near Ricketts Point, there is a monument commemorating the first encounter of Arthur Streeton and Heidelberg school artists Tom Roberts and Fred McCubbin who rented a house over the summer of 1886/7. Their paintings of Beaumaris are also mentioned as part of the City of Bayside Coastal Art Trail.


Michael O'Connell (1898–1976), a soldier returned from the Western Front, in 1923 built Barbizon (named after the French art school), on a bush block in Tramway Parade near Beach Road. The house was constructed from hand made concrete blocks on a simple cruciform plan and regarded by some as an early Modernist design.[66] It became a meeting place for Melbourne's alternative artists and designers including members of the Arts and Crafts Society. During the 1920s O'Connell focussed on School of Paris inspired textile design with his wife Ella Moody (1900–1981). Michael and Ella returned to England for a visit in 1937 but with the outbreak of war remained there and never returned to Australia. Barbizon was destroyed by the bushfire of 1944.[67]

Clarice BeckettEdit

Clarice Beckett, Autumn Morning (Early Morning, Beaumaris).

Clarice Beckett (1887–1935) now highly regarded as an original Australian modernist,[68] moved with her elderly parents from Bendigo to Dalgetty Rd., Beaumaris in 1919 to care for them in their failing health, a duty that severely limited her artistic endeavours so that she could only go out during the dawn and dusk to paint her landscapes. Nevertheless, her output was prodigious; she exhibited solo shows every year from 1923 to 1933 and with groups, mainly at Melbourne's Athenaeum Gallery, from 1918 to 1934. Many of her works depict still recognisable places along the coast as well as everyday 1920s suburban street scenes. While painting the wild sea off Beaumaris during a big storm in 1935, Beckett developed pneumonia and died four days later in Sandringham hospital, at age 48.[69]

The Boyd familyEdit

In 1955 Arthur and Yvonne Boyd moved from Murrumbeena to Beaumari before setting out in 1959 for a nine-year residency in England.[70] Robert Beck (1942-), the second son of Henry Hatton Beck and Lucy Beck (née Boyd), and his wife Margot (1948- ) set up a pottery at the Boyd's Surf Avenue house where his parents had returned from the UK to live.[71] The two couples worked closely together over this period, making a range of decorated wares and many of their most remarkable ceramic tiles.[72]

Architects and designersEdit

In the post-war period those returned from the military purchased land in the area, and after the bushfires there was much demand for new housing. Some of the earliest homes by Australia's best known architects are in Beaumaris: Grounds Romberg & Boyd, Peter McIntyre, Neil Clerehan, Chancellor and Patrick, Yunken Freeman, John Baird, Mockridge Stahle Mitchell, McGlashan Everist, Anatol Kagan, David Godsell and Peter Carmichael amongst others.[19]

Significant mid-century industrial design and fittings emerged from Beaumaris in the same period; Donald Brown's aluminium BECO light fittings featured in many houses (particularly those by Robin Boyd) in the 1950s and 60's, while the designer of the famous Planet lamp was Bill Iggulden, a resident of Beaumaris.[19]

Beaumaris Art GroupEdit

In 1953, when Beaumaris still retained a village character, a small band of resident artist friends, including painter Inez Hutchinson (1890–1970),[73] sculptor Joan Macrae (1918–2017)[74] and ceramicist Betty Jennings staged an exhibition[75] which led to their establishing the Beaumaris Art Group, a not-for-profit organisation, later that year. They continued to meet and exhibit at a local primary school,[76] started the Inez Hutchinson awards, and in 1965 purchased land and built studios designed by local architect C. Bricknell at 84-98 Reserve Rd, which were opened by director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Dr. Eric Westbrook, with further additions by John Thompson in 1975/76.[77][78][79][19]

Creative professionalsEdit

Other creative professionals who were residents of Beaumaris include fashion designers Sally Brown, Linda Jackson, Pru Acton and Geoff Bade; architect and historian Mary Turner Shaw; graphic designers Frank Eidlitz and Brian Sadgrove; flag designer and canvas goods manufacturer Ivor William Evans (1887–1960),;[80] journalist and nature writer Donald Alaster Macdonald (1859?-1932) whose memorial is in Donald MacDonald reserve, and whose ideas were continued in 1953 when the Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society (now Beaumaris Conservation Society) was formed to conserve bushland against accelerating land clearances for housing and to encourage planting of indigenous vegetation.[81] Musicians include Colin Hay,[19] and Brett and Sally Iggulden (children of the designer Bill Iggulden who designed the Series K Planet Lamp in 1962)[82] who were founders and members, with others from the district, of The Red Onion Jazz Band in the 1960s.[83]

Notable residentsEdit


At the 2011 census, the suburb of Beaumaris recorded a population of 12,829 people. Of these:[86]

Age distribution: Residents tend to be somewhat older than the country overall. The median age was 44 years, compared to the national median of 37 years. Children aged under 15 years made up 19.7% of the population (national average is 19.3%) and people aged 65 years and over made up 18.4% of the population (national average is 14.0%). The difference is most marked in the age group 24-34, which accounts for 5.5% of residents, compared to 13.8% nationally.
Ethnic diversity: 75% were born in Australia, compared to the national average of 70%; the next most common countries of birth were England 7.0%, New Zealand 1.8%, Scotland 1.2%, South Africa 1.1% and Germany 1.0%. At home, 89% of residents only spoke English; the next most common languages spoken at home were Greek 1.5%, German 1.2%, Italian 0.8%, Mandarin 0.6% and Russian 0.5%.
Finances: The median household weekly income was $1,907, compared to the national median of $1,234. This difference is also reflected in real estate, with the median mortgage payment being $2,383 per month, compared to the national median of $1,800.
Transport: On the day of the Census, 9.5% of employed people travelled to work on public transport, and 67.5% by car (either as driver or as passenger).
Housing: The great majority (83%) of occupied dwellings were separate houses, 13% were semi-detached, 3.5% were flats, units or apartments and 0.5% were other dwellings. The average household size was 2.7 people.
Religion: The most common religious affiliation was "No Religion" (27%); the next most common responses were Catholic (26%), Anglican (21%), Uniting Church (6%) and Eastern Orthodox (3%).


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