Surrey Dive – Box Hill, Australia - Atlas Obscura

Surrey Dive

This former brickworks pit is full of legends about its murky depths.  


Surrey Dive is a deep waterhole that was transformed into Australia’s first swimming venue to meet Olympic standards during the early 20th-century. It became known as one of the premier swimming venues the country.

Melbourne was once home to over 50 brickworks located around the city. Many were clustered around certain locations due to the type of soil present.

The Box Hill Brickworks opened during the 1880s and began excavating clay from a nearby hole. After the site was temporarily closed in 1892, the large hole slowly filled with water from an underground spring and eventually became a local swimming hole. 

At over 100-feet (40-meters ) deep, the site gained a notorious reputation. Several people died in the swimming hole, including 14-year old Thomas Walsh in 1905. There were also ongoing rumors about workers trapped in the bottom of the pit along with machinery. By the 1980s the decision was made to fill in the hole, making the dive an ornamental lake. 

Today, it’s the centerpiece of Surrey Park, complete with a pleasant walking track. Model boat clubs often use the dive. A few of the old Box Hill Brickworks buildings still remain next to the swimming hole. They are closed to the public, but can be seen from the fenceline.

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