Glen Hollister was best known as the pastoralist who owned large stretches of land to the north of Melbourne, where he at times joked about established a kingdom of his own. Less well know – although at least his equal in will – was Iris Hollister, Glen’s wife and tending to sound less jokey when she talked about ruling a kingdom.
Between two such strong willed people, there was always going to be friction, and the Hollisters were no exception to the rule. As it became increasingly clear to Iris that Glen was not as serious as she about ruling, she began to pressure him for a realm of her own, free from all obligation to him. Glen, fearing that she meant a divorce, which would have been scandalous by the standards of the day, made strenuous efforts to talk her around to a compromise. He would buy a plot of land distant from their current holdings, and deed it over to her entirely, but it would be done in such a way that to the general public, it appeared to be a romantic gesture.
Thus it was that an area along the Koonung Creek was purchased, under the pretence that it would be a garden for Iris Hollister, and nothing more. But Iris had much greater designs in mind. She saw a garden suburb, with a thriving shopping district and beautiful public parks. How much of her vision ever became manifest is a difficult question to answer (Iris would never have tolerated, among other things, the construction of a drive-in movie theatre, an extension of the tram to her village on to Camberwell, or the building of a bloody great freeway right through the middle of her territory), although it is clear that the heirs of Glen’s Iris were less than true to her vision.
Suburbs near Glen Iris: