Category Archives: Heidelberg

The door is open…


I read with sadness that Mrs Hoogenraad died last week.  I haven’t seen her in many, many years  and have wondered occasionally whether she was still alive.  ‘Mrs Hoogie’, as we called her, will be known to probably hundreds of middle-aged Heidelberg kids who spent Saturday nights at ‘Hoogies’ during the 1970s.

At the time of the ‘Jesus Revolution’ and Larry Norman and The Late Great Planet Earth, Mr and Mrs Hoogie ran a house church at their very small home in Heidelberg.  They were in their 60s and their children were adults- I wonder now how their children felt about this endless stream of adolescents going to their door, burdening their parents with tearful accounts of relationship breakups and crises of faith?  I suspect, too, that the neighbours were not terribly impressed either as the cars lined up along Oakhurst Avenue, and young people spilled out into the garden. Still, thinking back, we were very, very well behaved young people, considering.

Saturday nights between 8.00 and 11.00 were Hoogies nights,  crammed into their lounge room with the rugs rolled up and carted into another room, dark and exotic carved wooden furniture, batik prints, shaded lamps,  glowing copper and a cuckoo clock.  There were  people playing guitars, hymns, prayers and a talk by someone or other – sometimes Mr Hoogie himself (I don’t think I ever remember Mrs Hoogie giving one).  It was a fundamentalist, personal,  evangelical Christianity that I have since rejected, gradually at first and now more definitively, despite a lingering cultural Anglicanism and a more active leaning towards Unitarianism.  Nonetheless, I look back to such times with a bemused indulgence but a deep respect for the faith and grace that Mrs Hoogie always showed. Continue reading

Heide Gallery in Autumn

The redoubtable Sarah Palin is famously and erroneously noted for announcing  that she could see Russia from her porch.  Well, it’s not quite as exotic but if I had known that it was there, I would have been able to see Heide from our front porch as a child growing up in Heidelberg.  However, I was not at all aware that John and Sunday Reed lived on the hillside across the river until they were long gone and Heide Museum of Modern Art had been opened in what had been their homes.

Autumn is a lovely time to visit Heide.  The deciduous trees stand out against the bushland setting.

Heide Gardens, Bulleen May 2013

Heide Gardens, Bulleen May 2013

We’ve been to Heide several times but it’s always seemed that one or other of the three galleries has been closed either for construction or refurbishment.  But when we went last week, all three were open and bustling.

Heide I is a weatherboard farm house that the Reeds renovated in French Provincial style after purchasing the property in 1932.

Heide I

Heide I

At various times Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Danila Vassilief joined them there.   Sidney Nolan painted his Ned Kelly series in the dining room.  The study has been left much as it was and it doesn’t take much imagination to picture the conversations, the wine, the cigarettes, the laughter, the arguments.  I wish that there were other photographs of the way it looked when they all lived there.

Rear view Heide I

Rear view Heide I

Heide I features an exhibition called “The Sometimes Chaotic World of Mike Brown”.  You can see a slideshow of his work here . The first image shows him painting the dining room at Heide I.  His work referenced pop lyrics, pornography, psychedelics, tribal art, Dadaism and garbage and he was the only Australian artist to be successfully convicted of obscenity.

In 1963 the Reed commissioned architect David McGlashan to build Heide II, a grey concrete structure with huge north-facing windows, a cantilevered staircase and mezzanine and a snug conversation space with open fire.  It was designed to be a ‘gallery to be lived in’  and small pictures in each room show the ways that it was used domestically while the Reeds lived there. There’s a display ‘Collage’ in Heide II.  The Reeds lived there until 1980 when  they sold Heide to the Victorian Government, and shifted back into Heide I.  They hadn’t been living back in Heide I before they died in December 1981 just ten days apart.


Looking out from Heide II

Heide III is a purpose-built gallery built of black titanium zinc and completed in 2006.  It is a striking building, but because it was designed as a gallery, it doesn’t have the same connotations of living-as-art that the other two buildings have.


Heide III

Until July 21, Heide III features an exhibition ‘Big Game Hunting’ by Fiona Hall.  Like the Mike Brown exhibition in Heide I, it is a very political exhibition with repeated themes of the threats of war-mongering and abuse of the environment.

The gardens of Heide are beautiful. Sunday Reed’s kitchen garden has been rehabilitated and now supplies Cafe Vue.  Her Heart Garden is now visible.

Kitchen garden adjacent to Heide I

Kitchen garden adjacent to Heide I

Entry to the Heide Galleries (I, II and III) costs $14.00 for all three.  The gardens and sculpture park are free.

[And of course, since you’re in the neighbourhood, you could visit the Heidelberg Historical Society Museum on a Sunday afternoon between 2.00 and 5.00 pm to see the Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin exhibition ‘Against the Forces’.  Cost $5.00.  I’ll write more about it soon]

Thomas Wills at Heidelberg Historical Society

For those of us interested in early Port Phillip society, there will be a presentation at Heidelberg Historical Society tomorrow night (Tuesday 9 April 2013) on one of the early settlers of the Port Phillip District.  Thomas Wills (1800-1872) is associated with the Heidelberg district through his purchase of 176 acres in 1840 to the west of Darebin Creek, in what is now Alphington, for 3784 pounds.  There he established Lucerne Farm, a double storey, stuccoed house built of locally hand-made bricks and bluestone.  Richard Howitt, a neighbour described the house as:

delightfully situated on pleasant knolls and slopes.  Seen from the south of the Yarra, with the garden like an English one, the widening Yarra at a distance from it and the gleam of the natural pond near it, partly hidden by trees, the landscape is very picturesque.  Walking in the garden, you see natural birds which have become almost tame, so well are they protected by the owner.  (Cited in Heidelberg Since 1836 p. 20)

Governor La Trobe is said to have been a frequent visitor, and the house was well known as one of the social centres of the district.  Unfortunately, despite its ‘A’ classification, the house was demolished in 1960 as a car park for the La Trobe Golf Club.

Thomas Wills was a J.P. and a founding member of the Melbourne Mechanics Institute in 1839.  He was no fan of the judge’s despite the ‘neighbourly’ connection and he signed a petition against Willis.

On Tuesday 9th April, Anne Marsden will speak to the Heidelberg Historical Society about Thomas Wills.  She was awarded a 2013 Honorary Creative Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria to research the founding committee of the Mechanics’ Institution, which included many of the most prominent Port Phillip men of the time.

The meeting commences at 8.00 pm, Tuesday 9th April 2013 at the Ivanhoe Uniting Church Community Centre, Seddon Street Ivanhoe. Visitors are more than welcome.

Update: I’ve just found five  photos of Lucerne, taken in the 1950s, when it was in very poor condition.  You can see them at:

There’s other photos of Lucerne surrounded by floodwaters from the 1930s too

Twilight Sounds at Sills Bend 2013

It’s March, so it’s Banyule Festival time again and down to Sills Bend we went last night for Twilight Sounds, just like we did in 2011 and 2010.  I’m nothing if not a creature of habit.    This year it was Mental As Anything.


I suspect that the person or committee that chooses the acts for Twilight Sounds has a baby-boomer streak, because they tend to be acts from at least twenty years ago who are still performing -or perhaps it reflects the budget provision for the event?  Certainly the age of the audience is much younger than that, with lots of young families with kids in strollers, as well as the baby-boomers you’d expect to be attracted and still spry enough to negotiate the crowd with their fold-up chairs and picnic sets (that’s us).

They were good and the crowd responded accordingly.  When I think back, there’s no way that I would have known or listened to the music that was popular when my parents were young.  But with the ubiquity of broadcast sound in public places, radio stations that have a 30-year music list, remixes and re-recordings, and exposure to music in films that now have an extended life in DVDs after their cinema and television life is over,  it’s quite likely that songs from 25 years ago are part of the aural wallpaper of people not even born when they were released.


In fact, I’d forgotten just how many hits the Mentals had.  They just kept them coming, one after the other.  The crowd was a-jigging, too- in fact, I had just as much fun watching them as what was going on onstage.  And if the voices were a little strained, the music itself was essentially unchanged and you were able to mentally singalong with the original soundtrack in your head anyway.

But, in case you want to here one of the originals- here it is, courtesy of Countdown. Strange track (as many Countdown clips are) – no one actually seems to be singing!  I could never work out what the song was about at the time- in fact, I thought it was somewhat racist!!

Vote 1 Joseph Hawdon!

As you may recall, I am interested in the history of Banyule Homestead, one of the few pre-gold rush mansions still standing in Melbourne.  My sister blog, BanyuleHomestead is exploring different aspects of Banyule Homestead’s history.  Joseph Hawdon, who built the homestead in the 1840s, was one of the candidates for the first election to the Legislative Council of New South Wales.  You can read about his election tilt here.

Duelling lads

The district of Port Phillip seems an overwhelmingly Victorian city. [There’s a little pun there, for those of you not familiar with Melbourne, because the Port Phillip District later came to be known as ‘Victoria’.]  Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, when Port Phillip was in its infancy, and the influx of immigrants which became a tsunami in the 1850s gold-rush, embedded the ideas and mindset of Victorian Britain along with the foundation-stones of many Gold Rush era buildings.  But there is one manifestation of an older, Georgian-era mindset in Port Phillip during the late 30s/early 1840s – duelling.

There had been a late 18th century revival in duelling in Britain, especially amongst army officers.  In 1777 at the Clonmel Assizes a group of Anglo-Irish gentlemen drew up the ‘Clonmel Code’ which comprised 26 rules for duelling. Although it was becoming less popular in Britain in the early decades of the 19th century, it continued in the colonies for longer, especially in Upper Canada, Sydney and Hobart which could perhaps be explained by the heavy presence of army officers in those locations.

It existed alongside, and was often inter-twined with the legal system.  Indeed, lawyers were frequent participants.  It was both a supplement to the legal system, and was supplemented by it, with disputes involving duelling often being played out through placards, newspaper letters and court cases as well.  Hence, while he was serving in Upper Canada in 1828 Judge Willis heard a court case that emerged from a duel that had occurred more than ten years previously, that had been reignited by a letter published in the newspaper.

There were several duels in Melbourne.  One famous one involved Peter Snodgrass (good name, eh?) and Redmond Barry who was later to become Chief Justice, and famously acted as the judge in the Ned Kelly trial.  Peter Snodgrass had been involved in an earlier duel as well.

As Edmund Finn tells it in The Chronicles of Early Melbourne (p. 776)

On the evening of the 1st January 1840, a select dinner-party assembled in one of the club-rooms to bid hearty welcome to the newly-arrived year, and here gathered as choice a dozen of exuberant spirits as could well be found from that day to this. They sat round a table of “full and plenty” where no stint was imposed upon the animal enjoyment of eating and drinking; and after dinner there was no disposition to bring the convivialism to anything like a premature termination, so there they stayed without giving a thought to an early breakup….When the wine, or rather the brandy, was in the wit flew out.  “A cup difference” arose between Mr Peter Snodgrass and Mr. William Ryrie, and heated words and offensive insinuations followed.  Snodgrass was the son of a Lieutenant-Colonel of distinction, and may be supposed to have inherited a martial ardour, which , which he was never reluctant to suppress when any occasion arose to excite it, and accordingly, a circumstance not surprising to those who knew his temperament, he forthwith challenged  Ryrie to mortal combat.  The verbal cartel was accepted as willingly as it was offered…

The shooting match was fixed for daybreak the following morning, on the western slope of Batman’s Hill, now the site of the Spencer Street [Southern Cross] Railway Station, and there was not much time for effecting the preliminary arrangements.

But an unexpected and formidable difficulty interposed…Strange and unaccountable omission! The Club was not provided with such gentlemanly indispensables as duelling pistols; and worse too, it was impossible to procure any in town without exciting a curiosity which might spread the matter abroad, and conduce to its interruption by police or other interference.

What to do?  Then someone remembered-

Mr Joseph Hawdon, of Heidelberg, was the possessor of a splendid case of hair-triggers, which could be got, if only their owner could be got at; but he was enjoying the pleasures of his peaceful home, and that was eight miles in the country.  This was a gloomy and disheartening look-out…Fortunately, there was present a man worthy of, and equal to the occasion.  H-lt-n, Ryrie’s second, had a good horse in the Club stable, and fresh from the “land of green heath and shaggy wood” was an expert plucky rider, as firm in the pigskin as on the solid ground, and jumping up, proclaimed his readiness to ride… to Heidelberg, storm the Hawdon domicile, and either return with the pistols, or never show his honest face amongst them.  The offer was rapturously applauded…

And so off he rode-

Arriving at his destination, the dreaming Hawdon was broken in upon, the pistols obtained, and the eight miles back were thundered over again in a double-quick time never out-paced since.  It was about 1 o’clock when the courier galloped up Collins Street, flourishing a pistol in each hand…

Lack of ammunition was the next problem, again solved by the enterprising second Mr H-lt-n, who sweet-talked the Military Commandant into handing over the needful.  On the way back to the club, he called in on Mr D. J. Thomas the surgeon, who agreed to accompany them.

Every obstruction now removed, the party moved off to the convincing ground, a grassy common on the verge of the swamp northwardly adjoining Batman Hill.  By this time it was clear daylight, as fine and fresh a summer morning as could be decided.  The distance was measured, the pistols primed, and the men placed; but just as the fatal signal was about to be given, Snodgrass, who was always a victim to over-impatience, or ultra excitement on such occasions, so mismanaged his hair-trigger that it went off too soon; so, instead of slaying his antogonist, he wounded himself in the toe, and came to grief.  Ryrie, as a matter of course, could not think of behaving so unhandsomely as to shoot a man down, and forthwith flared up in the air.  Thomas was immediately at work with the wounded patient, who, though literally prostrated, was found to have sustained no serious injury…

And what became of the Hawdon Duelling Pistols? As Garryowen tell us, Hawdon had a contract with the New South Wales government to convey the mail overland to and from Yass.  The pistols were placed in the hands of the first mailman, John Bourke, one of Hawdon’s employees, to be used as a means of defence against “possible bushrangers and probable Aboriginal assailants”.  Garryowen did not know if the pistols were ever deployed, but as Bourke was a good marksman, he was sure that he wouldn’t ‘toe’ himself as the first duellist did.


Edmund Finn (Garryowen) The Chronicles of Early Melbourne

Penny Russell Savage or Civilized? Manners in Colonial Australia

Cecilia Morgan ‘In Search of the Phanton Misnamed Honour’: Duelling in Upper Canada Canadian Historical Review , Vol 76, No. 4 Dec 1995 pp 529-562

Crossposted (partially) at BanyuleHomestead because the aforesaid Joseph Hawdon later lived at Banyule Homestead in Heidelberg

Position, position, position

[You may be aware that I am very concerned about issues involving Banyule Homestead in Heidelberg.  I have started another blog dealing with Banyule Homestead and Heidelberg more generally, and please visit it!  You can find it at  I have cross-posted this entry]

The area of land between the Yarra River and the Darebin Creek was prime agricultural and grazing land, and the Government knew it.  It was parcelled up for sale at the first Government Land auction that was held in Sydney in 1838.  The fact that the sale was held in Sydney is significant: it meant that you needed to be in Sydney to purchase.  As a result, the land was purchased largely by Sydney-based speculators, especially Thomas Walker, who remained in Sydney.  The 920 acre Portion 6 that Banyule Homestead was later to be built on was purchased by Richard Henry Browne for 1334 pounds.

However, Portion 5, to the west of the Banyule Estate (the Brown St. hill and up to Upper Heidelberg Rd for 21st century locals!) did not sell, and was offered up for sale, in Melbourne this time, on 26th February 1840.

And just to show that position, position, position was important then too- here’s the advertisement from the Port Phillip Herald 21 February 1840.  You’ll see that Banyule (spelled ‘Banyuille’) is mentioned, and that Joseph Hawdon (who had not yet built Banyule Homestead) is listed among “the most respectable gentry” who lived in the area. And for those of you stuck in traffic along Rosanna Road, remember that you are travelling on a “romantic and beauteous road”.

Banyule homestead again

An article in the Age on Saturday 8th and my response to it.  You’ll need to scroll down a bit- obviously it wasn’t headline material!


I don’t like the look of this

What’s this peg doing in the middle of the Banyule wetlands?

Is this the harbinger of the Eastern Freeway/Ring Road extension?

There’s a lot to lose….

Why I’m mad as hell about Banyule Homestead

Update October 2019: One of the things that I wished most for Banyule Homestead was that it would end up in the hands of a family who love it and who see themselves as custodians of a very special building. And I think I may have had my wish granted! Welcome, new owners.

Update April 2019: Banyule Homestead was on the market again.

Update August 2018: VCAT upheld Banyule Council’s refusal of a permit for use of Banyule Homestead as a function centre. The case ran over ten days, and Banyule Council and numerous neighbours ran a well-organized and well-researched case.  You can read VCAT’s decision here.

Update August 2016: Applications by the owners have been made to Heritage Victoria to make changes to Banyule Homestead in order to fit it out as a functions venue.  Go to for more information about this latest chapter.

Update May 2015: I have decided to archive the site that was ‘Banyule Homestead Matters’. It can now be found at

And now, back to the original post that was in this blog entry from September 15, 2011, nearly five years ago:

September 15, 2011

The risibly named Heritage Victoria this week approved the subdivision of land surrounding Banyule Homestead for the construction of three townhouses.  I am appalled.

Banyule Homestead has long been one of the landmark buildings in Heidelberg. The gothic-style mansion was constructed in 1846 by one of the overlanders from Sydney, Joseph Hawdon and it is, in fact, one of the oldest surviving houses in Victoria.  Construction of an early, single-story building commenced in 1842 and so, yes, our Judge Willis would have been able to see the first buildings of Banyule as he stood in his driveway on the hill above what is now Warringal Park.

Heidelberg, with its fertile flood plains and views attracted men who became squatters, and indeed, it was the quality and reputation of his wealthy neighbours  that attracted Willis to living in the area, even though it was some ten miles from the court.  You can almost plot the houses out on a map- on all the high peaks around Heidelberg, the houses attached to large properties would have been visible to each other.  Willis’ rented house on Rose Anna Farm looked across east to  Joseph Hawdon’s Banyule in what is now Buckingham Drive;   south towards D.C. McArthur’s house Charterisville along what is now Burke Rd Nth,  and west to  the Boulden Brothers property at the top of the hill leading up to Upper Heidelberg Road.His friend William Verner lived in the valley between Willis’ house and Banyule, while Viewbank Farm stood on a raised area on the Yarra Flats, clearly visible from Banyule.  These houses, as they stood in the early 1840s, were not the mansions that they were later to become with further additions and alterations, but they did form an important network of the pre-gold rush ‘gentryin Port Phillip.

You need imagination to visualize the sightlines between these houses today (where they still exist) because they have been largely obscured by trees. But you don’t need imagination to see Banyule as it was from the river, because as an aspect it is still largely unchanged today.  Until Heritage Victoria’s decision, that is.

Banyule stands on a cliff, overlooking the Yarra flats below.

It can be seen from across the billabongs…

…and  it was visible from my front garden, just to the right of  my father’s head in this 1960s photo of party games on the front lawn (how quaint!)  In fact, this is how I know that Judge Willis could see Banyule because his house stood on the hill immediately behind my childhood home.

It is the house that gives my local council its name: I went to Banyule High School and I go to the Banyule Festival. The Victorian Heritage Database shows that it is listed as being of National Significance by the National Trust; it is on the Victorian Heritage Register and it has local council heritage listing.  These are long-standing listings, already in place when Banyule (shamefully) returned to private hands after being in public ownership as an art gallery.  How can all these listings count for nothing?  Is anything safe? Obviously not.

As it is, the gardens that surrounded Banyule have been degraded and surrounded on three sides by houses. A slice here, a slice there. Enough has been lost already, and it can never be regained.  We can put a stop to further loss now.  One of the oldest mansions in Victoria should not be further nibbled away by development.  A house might be privately held, but its aspect belongs to all of us.  Most large houses in suburban Melbourne have been hemmed in by other houses and hunker on truncated, remnant blocks, with all scale and sense of position lost. But with Banyule,  we don’t have to rely on our visual imagination to see it as it was.  We can stand on the wetlands on the Yarra Flats and look up- and there is it.

P.S. Update April 2012. If you share my concern about Banyule Homestead, please go to Banyule Homestead Matters . It is located at . At the moment, it is just celebrating Banyule Homestead, but the moment that anything changes, you’ll read about it there.

P.P.S Update 29 December 2014. I have decided not to renew the premium status of the Banyule Homestead Matters website.  The site is still available, but the URL now includes ‘wordpress’  (i.e. it used to be  and now it is You will probably see a screen telling you to contact the administrator to renew the registration.  There’s no need to do that- I know that the registration has lapsed.  If you click on the small X, the warning will disappear and you’ll be able to access the site as before.  You may need to use the menu on the right hand site to negotiate the site as the Home page no longer shows all the posts in chronological order.

P.P.P.S. Update again. I’ve archived the Banyule Homestead Matters website and moved it all across to a new site. The website address is now

It might be worth keeping an eye on the Friends of Banyule website, and the Heidelberg Historical Society has information about Banyule as well.

P.P.S. Good places to see Banyule Homestead. The homestead  is located at 60-74 Buckingham Drive, but it’s not easily seen from the street.  Click for a Google Map showing good vantage spots here.