Brighton has always been home to the well heeled, as early as the Victorian period when families would take their vacations by the beach. The grand Victorian villas, dating back to the 1850s, still remain. However, the suburb has also moved on, with many contemporary homes and luxury apartments found in the wide and leafy streets. The railway line to Brighton, through North Brighton, Middle Brighton and Brighton Beach, has allowed this highly desirable suburb to be not only accessible to the genteel folks who live here, but also those keen to enjoy what this premier suburb offers to a broader community.

If you take the Sandringham railway line, you’ll see a point of difference immediately upon arrival at Middle Brighton station. On one side of the exit, at Railway Place, are intimate cafes such as Track Three and Arlo Gather/Craft. If you are heading towards the city, there’s a charming café built into the original Victorian railway station. For those wanting to explore this village-style shopping strip on a full, rather than empty, stomach, there’s White Rabbit, a bistro-style restaurant bordering the railway line, formerly a Victorian bank. Alternatively, there’s the Half Moon pub and bistro, a 1930s modernist pile that draws the locals.

Unlike some shopping strips that have seen fashion boutiques replaced by food outlets, at Church Street some of Australia’s most recognised labels/stores can still be found: including Carla Zampatti, Gorman, Lee Mathews, Flannel and Feathers, just to name a few. Further down the street, you’ll see Husk, Hosk and Cable. If your looking to find some of the designer clothing normally found in wardrobes of Brighton’s well dressed, then take a look at the new Red Cross store, located at 115 Church Street. Forget about piles of clothes in bins to rummage through: here each item of clothing has been carefully colour-coded!

Church Street still has an old-fashioned-style butcher, where ‘quality and service’ can be found, according to the owner, Stephen Pocock. “We’re the last of our type left on the strip,” says Pocock, whose business has received a number of awards, including a gold medal in 2018 for its farm-fed beef burgers and also for its beef sausages in the same year. Those who prefer to eat out, there’s Hellenic Republic, a nautical-inspired restaurant that brings a sense of the Greek Islands to Brighton. Chunky ropes are draped from the tent-like ceiling and wind their way around structural columns and even waiters’ stations.

The Pantry, located on the corner of Church and St Andrews streets, is well represented in the centre in various guises. There’s The Pantry restaurant/café, a popular destination for locals and those coming from afar, together with Hiro Sushi Bar by Pantry, reminiscent of the traditional sushi bars one would find in Tokyo, together with the Pantry Food Store next door. The generous bowls of food on display, such as ‘Ancient Grains with Almonds, Hummus and Pomegranate’ are mouth watering even before one morsel is tasted!

Given the number of private schools located in Brighton, such as Firbank Girls Grammar and Brighton Grammar, many of the streets are filled with large family homes, some period, some new and contemporary. Locations such as Sussex, Manor and Wellington streets are all highly desirable, being in close proximity to the beach and the shopping centre. Every style of architecture is represented, including a fine waterfall-style cream brick home in mint condition located at 27 Park Street. The owner tells me architect Harrold Bailey designed it for him and his wife in 1961 (well after the art deco period was at its zenith). Those keen on looking at fine contemporary architecture would be advised to take a left at Park Street and head into Victoria Street, paying particular attention to number 24. Designed by leading architectural practice March Studio, this distinctive home, with its unusual steel-screened façade, received top accolades for last year’s Australian Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter) Awards. Brighton, something to see around each corner!

Text by Stephen Crafti


Lifestyle & Design

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