Colourful and quaint, the boatsheds and bathing boxes of Bayside Melbourne have been part of Victoria’s history for more than a century.

When the mercury rises, tourists flock to the well-known waterfront suburbs of the Mornington Peninsula to enjoy a relaxed walk along the beach. On the way, they’re bound to pass some of the 600-odd rustic wooden boatsheds that dot the coastal sand dunes. Most of them are nestled among towering trees, decades-old observers to the changing moods of the vast Port Phillip Bay.

These are the views that Sally and Ben Hannemann have enjoyed since childhood and the memories they wanted their three boys — 11-year-old Harvey, nine-year-old Ned, and five-year-old Archie — to make as they grew up.

“My parents bought the boatshed next door 30 years ago,” Sally says. “So visiting the beach after school, on weekends or during school holidays has always been a way of life for us. After many years on the lookout, we were lucky enough to buy this one four years ago, although we had to beat off some pretty stiff competition. Obviously, we paid considerably more than the $200 my parents got theirs for all those years ago, but it’s been worth every cent.”

Often passed through generations, these remarkable pieces of real estate are tightly held and can be hard to find. “Ours was built in the 1930s and we don’t actually own the land,” Sally explains. “It’s really just the right to use and maintain the boatshed on an ongoing lease.”

As three generations of the family settle down to enjoy a balmy Friday night by the bay, joined by old friends from neighbouring boatsheds, it’s easy to see the attraction of this lifestyle. In the distance, a heat haze sits over the Melbourne city skyline reminding those gathered on the beach that it’s the end of the working week and time to relax. In the shallows, the boys splash around with some friends as, further out, a group of small white-sailed yachts gently glide past.

This story was originally published in Australian Country issue 16.1. Subscribe to our magazine here.

Click here for more home and interior stories.

Words Emma Sutcliffe
Photography André Elhay
Styling Fiona Newman