Many people living in Brighton have spent their entire lives there.
This writer was raised in Brighton and my mother, who still lives there, has a saying, that “If you can’t find what you’re looking for in Church Street (the village-style shopping centre)” chances are, you won’t find it anywhere else!” When your mother is 90, it’s best to agree.
However, Brighton has broader appeal than locals who have called the bayside suburb home for generations. The colourful bathing boxes lined up on Dendy Beach also attract those visiting from interstate and abroad, many after seeing the vibrant boxes initially featured on calendars. The suburb’s popularity as a holiday destination in Victorian times is also expressed in the many fine Victorian homes dotted throughout the wide tree-lined streets.
While the grand Victorian homes, with their ornate wrought iron balconies, are still highly prized today, some of the less obvious buildings can be easily missed. A modest Victorian terrace at 299 New Street is one such address. Home to legendary composer Percy Grainger, this terrace has now been renovated and forms part of a larger multi-residential unit development (a museum dedicated to Grainger is located at the University of Melbourne). Another Victorian house, a few doors away, at 285 New Street, diagonally opposite Brighton Grammar, was the set location for the award-winning 1983 Australian film Man of Flowers by the late Paul Cox. Featuring an eccentric, reclusive middle-aged man who enjoys the beauty of art, flowers and music, the house, with its fortified fence and front gates, exudes the same sense of privacy enjoyed by the main character in Cox’s film.
While mothers aren’t always right, mine is certainly correct about her feelings towards Church Street. The Royale Brothers in St Andrews Street is literally a ‘hole in the wall’. The award-winning take-away joint adds a new dimension to the humble burger. Lickings, directly next door to The Royale Brothers, is also a drawcard for locals, making ice cream and sorbets on the premises. Those coming home from work at the end of the day will be tempted by La Fayette Fine Foods at 355 New Street. This intimate café and food store includes preserves, relishes and delicacies, all beautifully displayed on the shelves lined with Florence Broadhurst foil wallpaper and illuminated by Philippe Starck pendant lights.
Those looking for a place for their weekly, as well as daily ‘splurges’ will also gravitate to Leaf, a food market at 112 Were Street Brighton. Once a supermarket, it now combines organic and conventional food brands under the one roof. Open range eggs are as popular as Leaf’s free-range chickens. Local and imported wines are also extensive.
Brighton isn’t like other suburbs. You just have to look at the locals to see that they feel part holiday-goers, part permanent residents. Those who appreciate the outdoors and the salt air can be found wandering the beaches in their gym gear. And not surprisingly, those who have lived there all their lives are happy to call Brighton home.
Some of our other favourite restaurants within Brighton include:
Baia Di Vino:
Sons of Mary:
Some of our other favourite places within Brighton include:
Salt Clothing Company: