Brighton, a coastal suburb, is 19 km north of central Brisbane and immediately north of Sandgate. It faces Bramble Bay, which is crossed by the heritage-listed Hornibrook Highway (1935) to Redcliffe. Brighton's northern shoreline is mangrove wetland, partly reclaimed in the 1930s, and its western boundary is Bald Hills Creek.
Sandgate's land sales occurred in 1853, and in 1861 access to the area was facilitated by a bridge over Cabbage Tree Creek. Stores and cottages were built. There was already the Sandgate Hotel (c1858) and six years later the Brighton Hotel was licensed. After being known as North Sandgate, the place name appears to have derived from the hotel, and the hotel's name from the English seaside resort of Brighton in Sussex, England. The hotel changed to an orphanage in 1893, the forerunner of the Rowallan institution in Wooloowin.
Sandgate was Brisbane's premier watering place, and Brighton was a two kilometre walk beyond the railway station. Moreover, Brighton tailed off into mangrove wetlands. A primary school was opened in 1920, and 12 years later work started in the wetlands for road approaches to the Hornibrook Highway across Bramble Bay to Redcliffe. Reclaimed land east of the Highway approaches was used for the RAAF and WAAAF during World War II, and in 1946 the buildings were used for people moved from the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. In due course they became the Eventide Homes.
In the 1950s Brighton became Sandgate's outer urban growth area: the Brighton Bowls Club was founded in 1950, the Marching Girls' Association in 1955, and primary schools were opened at St Kiernan's Catholic church and at Nashville in the south-west of Brighton (1960). By 1975 Brighton had a population approaching 10,000 people.
Whilst Sandgate has the majority of social institutions and retail shopping, there is local shopping along Brighton Terrace. In the middle of the suburb there are extensive recreational wetlands, concluding with a lagoon adjacent to the Deagon wetlands.
Brighton's census populations have been: