NSFW!!! Vintage photographs of Aussie male swimmers


nsfw male swimmers vintage photograph

Soon after the invention of cameras, photographers began to focus their lenses on nude and scantily dressed men. Museums and archives around Australia hold among their collections, numerous vintage photographs of Aussie male swimmers. (Some images NSFW.)

Despite Australia’s celebrated beach culture, white settlers did not initially embrace the Australian shoreline with the same enthusiasm as coastal First Nations people. Until the early 1900s, ‘surf-bathing’ remained the preserve of men who gathered nude on beaches and riverbanks for a daily pre-dawn dip.

When beaches and riverbanks were reserved for nude male swimmers

NSFW: Click here for seven fit young men posing nude before a dip in the Hawkesbury River around 1890 – 1900. For reasons unknown, the image includes two fully dressed older men posed behind the swimmers like big game hunters with their trophies. Image: Hawkesbury Library Service. Photographer: George Edward Woodhill. 

Once municipalities began to provide seaside facilities, men and women either bathed at separate times or in their own designated areas.

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Male Swimmers at Bondi Baths around 1900. Some wear bathing suits but many take a dip or just hang around the shorefront naked. Image: State Library Victoria. Photographer: Michael J. Drew

NSFW: Nude male swimmers at Kalgoorlie’s first baths. Image: Western Australian Museum Collections.

NSFW: As sure as God made little green apples, put young men together nude and shenanigans will ensue. Check out these young beachgoers with a couple of lads tucked to show off their manginas and another reaching out tentatively for his mate’s exposed penis. Image: State Library Victoria. 

Mixed bathing

Eventually, municipal authorities relented and allowed mixed bathing. But worry-warts lay awake at night fretting about the wave of promiscuity that would wash across the nation if unrestrained penises were allowed open access to Aussie beaches.

So, councils at first insisted men and boys over 14 wear skirts over their bathers. Not mere lap-laps a la Tarzan but full skirts at least 12 inches long, encircling the entire waist. Men took to beaches across the nation in frocks borrowed from mothers, sisters, wives and grannies to protest the ridiculous requirement. Surf-lifesaving associations complained about the danger of members becoming entangled during rescues.

sir frederick affleck male swimmers vintage photographs
Protestors at Manly Beach
male swimmers vintage photographs
The Bondi Protest

The V

With skirts proving so unpopular, municipalities turned to another sartorial option — the V. The V was a brief under- or over-garment designed to restrain and compress the male genitalia and make it less obtrusive. Rather like a drag queen’s tucking gaff. They apparently hoped the V would achieve a discreet and sexless Ken Doll mound. Council ordinances banned the use of flimsy or transparent fabric in an effort to stem the tide of dancing dicks flip, flop, flapping across the nation’s beaches.

It was in the main, a complete failure. As seen in the following vintage photograph of South Australian male swimmers, the V, if anything, accentuated the male genitalia.

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Male swimmers standing near lockers. Image: State Library of South Australia

Over time the V went the way of the horseless carriage and the tie-on lambskin condom. As seen in the below photo of Swedish swimming champion Arne Borg and a group of NSW male swimmers, men adopted something akin to the modern wrestling singlet.

male swimmers nsfw
Arne Borg (centre, glasses) with local male swimmers. Image: National Library of Australia.

Some did favour a modesty panel as seen below on champion Aussie swimmer, Andrew Boy Charlton.

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Andrew Boy Charlton. Image: National Library of Australia.
Only one swimsuit in evidence but such a cute pic of young men beside Sydney Harbour, probably in the early 1920s. Image: Australian National Maritime Museum. Photograph: Harry Brisbane Williams.
Earl Beauchamp at Bondi, surrounded by lifesavers, during his exile from Britain for homosexuality. Image: National Library of Australia.

Dear old Earl Beauchamp seemed to enjoy the company of Aussie surf lifesavers whatever their attire.

But some will always enjoy the freedom of the nude swim and skinny-dipping remained popular away from the public gaze.

NSFW: Vintage photograph of naked servicemen swimming near Darwin during WWII. Image: State Library of Queensland.

Read more about the Australian war on indecent bathing costumes HERE: Scroll down to the heading It was all about sex.

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