Saturday 9 October 2010 – Holder

For my first walk after a hectic week which included travel,1 I chose Holder. It’s not far away, and the loop is less than 3 kilometres.

Canberra Community Walks map of Holder
Canberra Community Walks map of Holder

I wanted something straightforward because rain was threatening and I was going to try walking without a stick for the first time in a while. (My “trip” while dancing at Floriade was followed, before I’d recovered, by a total face-plant in an unsealed, unlit carpark.)

Holder, in Weston Creek, is a place I’ve had very little to do with. Mostly built between 1970 and 1972, the suburb has streets named after surveyors. Holder himself was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives, from 1901 to 1909. Thirty-one houses were destroyed on the northern edge of Holder during the Canberra bushfires of 2003.2

I once attended a (wonderful) cat show at St Jude’s Primary School in Holder.  The PC Users’ Group now has its headquarters in the Grant Cameron Community Centre (formerly Holder High School) so I’ve been there a few times in recent years. Holder High was one of the first schools closed by the ACT Government as part of its controversial Towards 2020 proposal. 3 To me, it’s a historic site because my friend Geoff used to teach art there.

I was aware, through Geoff, that there were townhouses designed by Willemsen in Holder.4 At the time, I didn’t know what this meant apart from “modern” and for me probably “prohibitively expensive”, but these days I’d be interested in the design, and the fact that the architect has a possibly Danish name. Nowadays apparently the firm is more into offices.

In chasing up Willemsen online, I discovered that I too have lived in an architect-designed townhouse in the form of the ANU accommodation at Garran.



Garran Group Housing

Garran Housing Group, Gilmore Crescent, Garran, ACT


This photo was taken by Martin aka canberra house on 7 November 2007 in Parliament House, Canberra and is copyright. I am grateful to Martin for permission to reproduce his photo (and the notes below) here. I added the link.

The Garran Housing Group comprised 58 two bedroom and 43 three bedroom houses for families of University fellows and research scholars. The group was designed by Harry Seidler and Associates from 1964–1968 for the Australian National University. The houses were located off Gilmore Crescent, Garran.

They were demolished in 1999.

I think we walked right past the Willemsen townhouses without realising, because they were so surrounded by greenery. Numerous townhouses opened onto Streeton Drive, and our path took us in front of them. I did observe the lack of certain architectural features on our walk: there were no McMansions. None. Furthermore there was not one box, and hardly a renovation. I think I saw one purple-rendered house. By and large it was a quiet, leafy suburb with fair-sized gardens full of flowers.


LHS: Capeweed RHS: Flowers

Capeweed / Flowers


The capeweed above was near the townhouses.

(The other day, I speculated that my yard – unlike all the other yards in my street – might be full of capeweed because I get it mowed. I thought the weed might have been brought in on my mowing people’s mowers. Dac is never going to let me live that down. Whenever we catch a glimpse of capeweed – and it’s pretty widespread – he shouts excitedly that my mowing people must have been there.)

In the course of writing about this walk, I was pleased to learn that Streeton Drive is named after the artist Arthur Streeton (1867-1943). In future I will travel along it in a happier frame of mind, thinking of his paintings that capture heat and light so wonderfully. Here’s one of a place that is now a suburb of Melbourne. Everything’s connected to everything: it’s where Geoff and Marie’s daughter lives.


Golden Summer, Eaglemont (1889) by Arthur Streeton

Golden Summer, Eaglemont (1889) by Arthur Streeton


Some Holder sights:


Letterbox shaped like a bomb; palm tree; Elizabethan house

Sights in Holder


Left to right:

  • a letterbox we thought looked like a bomb;
  • the obligatory palm tree; and
  • an Elizabethan house (not a box).

Here is the only dog we passed on our walk.


Buddy the Staffordshire terrier



He is a Staffordshire terrier, and he was very nice, tolerating pats from us both. Thanks to him and his owners, I was able to tell Dac that Geoff and Marie’s doggo Alice (with whom I recently spent time1) is also a Staffordshire terrier, and not a bull terrier as I had mistakenly said. Dac had had improbable visions of Geoff and Marie training up an attack dog.

I found the walk quite difficult, but nowhere near as bad as the previous walk (Gordon), so I was cheered by the thought that my bumps and aches must be getting better. Even slow gradients made me puff and pant, which is annoying. I’m generally shorter of breath now that the weather is warming up. It was also humid. I had to take off my jacket.

The Holder shops currently boast a cafe, but it seemed to be starting to rain so Dac bought Diet Coke from the supermarket and we came home.


1Mount Beauty and Melbourne – more about that later.

2Place name search: Holder (ACT Planning and Land Authority); Holder, Australian Capital Territory (Wikipedia)

3“9 pre-schools, 11 primary schools and one high school were closed, rather than the original 39 proposed. However, 4 other primary schools were partially closed.” –A Look Back at School Closure Issues in the ACT by Trevor Cobbold on the Save Our Schools website.

4The ACT Heritage Library Image Library holds two photos of Willemsen townhouses in Holder. Here’s a link to one, and here’s a link to the other. If you follow these links and click on the thumbnail picture, you’ll get a bigger photo.

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3 Responses to Saturday 9 October 2010 – Holder

  1. albertine says:

    I love this post: there’s so much of interest in it. The Streeter painting is wonderful -especially the sky. I wonder if it’s as good in the flesh (or do I mean ‘in the oil’?) And the photo of Buddy is excellent. Staffies are very popular here, but Ibelieve you need to be quite experienced to keep them sweet-natured. Some people deliberately make them savage – and they’ll take to that . Your selection of ‘sights in Holder’ is terrific, too – so witty.

  2. valkyrie1 says:

    When I ask people if I can photograph their dogs, they always try to get the dogs to look at the camera. The dogs just won’t!

    We’ll go and see that painting next time you’re in Canberra. It’s wonderful, and it’s here.

  3. albertine says:

    yes yes – I noticed that it’s there. Bon Plan.
    Poor doggies – or else they put their ears back and look incredibly humble and unhappy. We have so many of those. And there are the ones where the dog is rushing towards the camera – and you get pictures of their huge noses.

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