The diocese stretches from the south-eastern coastline of Queensland, south to the New South Wales border, and west to the Northern Territory and South Australian borders.
Queen Victoria created the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane and in 1859 appointed Edward Tufnell (1814–1896) as the first diocesan bishop. Tufnell designated St John's Cathedral in Brisbane as the pro-cathedral. The central stained glass windows in the apse, the crucifixion, at St Mary's Church, was donated by Bishop Tufnell.
The second bishop was Matthew Hale, who was translated from Perth in 1876. Hale was succeeded by William Webber, who was the last man to be only Bishop of Brisbane (from 1885 to 1904) as the new ecclesiastical province of Brisbane would in future be headed by an archbishop as the incumbent.
A see house called Bishopsbourne (now Old Bishopsbourne) was built in Milton c. 1865 for Edward Tufnell. It was used by subsequent bishops and archbishops until Archbishop Philip Strong purchased the house Eldernell (formerly Farsley) at 39 Eldernell Street, Hamilton in 1964, renaming it Bishopsbourne. In April 2007, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall sold the Hamilton residence for $11.2 million and moved to a residence in Ascot costing $2.6 million, which has also been renamed Bishopsbourne.
The Diocese of Brisbane has a predominantly moderate Anglo-Catholic culture. Groups such as the Society of Saint Francis and the Oratory of the Good Shepherd have their Australian base in the City of Brisbane and the Society of the Sacred Advent first emerged in the city. This latter group is responsible for running St Margaret's Anglican Girls' School.