1. Themes
  2. A to Z


(3193, 20 km S, Bayside City)

This southern residential suburb on Port Phillip Bay, featuring part of the Royal Melbourne Golf Course and the landscaped gardens and beachfront tea-house at Ricketts Point, was originally called Spring Grove because of the natural springs which the Boon wurrung people tapped along the base of the coastal sandstone cliffs. The name Beaumaris appears to have first been used in 1888 when the Beaumaris Park Estate was offered for sale. The name echoed that of a Welsh coastal resort where Edward I built Beau Marais Castle.

Fishermen, some of them Chinese, dwelt close to the foreshore in the 1840s and 1850s. Beaumaris remained a fairly sparsely populated market gardening and fishing settlement until the 1880s, when attempts were made to market it as a seaside retreat. In 1888 a horse tramway was established to convey passengers from the railway terminus at Sandringham, via Black Rock, to Beaumaris. The Great Southern Hotel opened in the same year. Now the Beaumaris Hotel, this grand building was intended as a summer base for the families of Melbourne business and professional men. However Beaumaris remained a fairly secluded beachside retreat for the next 60 years. In the 1880s it was quiet enough as a sketching ground for Heidelberg School artists Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and Tom Roberts, who camped on the foreshore while they painted local scenes.

An electric tram service replaced the horse-drawn tram in the 1920s, but demand for Beaumaris as a destination was so small that after five years the service was restricted to the Sandringham-Black Rock route. Beaumaris' development as a residential suburb occurred after World War II when land, such as 500 acres (200 ha) owned by the Dunlop Rubber Co., was subdivided and offered to ex-servicemen on easy terms.

During the 1950s Beaumaris gained a reputation as the home of a new, simpler style of domestic architecture championed by a number of up-and-coming architects. Robin Boyd noted the appearance of many sensible new small houses of 'white walls, vertical boards, low roofs and wide eaves'. While some new Beaumaris houses were architect-designed, many were built by owner-builders, who housed their families in garages as they slowly completed their homes. The new residents were active in establishing a progress association and building community facilities. The Beaumaris Tree Preservation Society encouraged residents to maintain indigenous trees and plants in their gardens and to resist paving their unmade residential streets. As a result, parts of Beaumaris retained a bush atmosphere. During the 1970s the Tree Preservation Society, now changed to the Beaumaris Conservation Society, continued to lobby and fight on environmental issues. Beaumaris has a high proportion of residents in the 50 and over age group. Increasing numbers of the innovative small houses of the postwar period have been enlarged or replaced by modern, two-storey homes with European-style gardens and by town houses with no gardens at all.

Jill Barnard