Black and white image of Melba Holden, of Holden Brothers Circus, and Stella MacKenzie hanging upside down on a Holden Brothers Circus trapeze, at Inverloch in the late 1940s. Melba is at top and Stella is at bottom.

According to the family: 'Melba Holden learned the trapeze and performed with the circus. Stella Mackenzie wasn't performing, but she and her family were down visiting for the day, so the girls thought they would 'have a play'.'

Stella Mackenzie was the daughter of Harry Mackenzie, who travelled for performances with Holden Brothers Circus, Perry Brothers Circus, Wirths Circus and Ashtons Circus. He performed as a clown with Holden Brothers Circus and also sometimes performed with Adolphus Holden and Ernie Gordon Holden from Holden Brothers Circus as the Flying Gordons, doing a three bar trapeze act.

According to the Holden family, the Holden Brothers Circus was founded in Melbourne in 1892 by Adolphus Holden. As a youth, Mr A Holden lost a leg in a railway accident near the Royal Melbourne Zoo. His family note that 'He overcame that hardship to achieve fame as an athlete, circus proprietor, animal trainer, acrobat and sensational aerial loopist and triple horizontal bar performer.' His family consisted of 10 sons and 1 daughter. In the early days the circus was transported by horse and wagons, then in the mid-1920s the circus began using motor vehicles. The original members of the Flying Gordons were Adolphus Holden and Ernie Holden. Ernie Gordon Holden was acclaimed as being the first and greatest rope spinner in Australia, in one cast of the lasso he roped in as many as seven horses and their riders. The world famous Flying Jordans Troupe also toured with the circus for a time. The family state that 'Over the years Holden Bros Circus gained a great reputation and goodwill throughout the country.'

Description of Content

Two girls hanging upside down on a trapeze, one above the other. The girls are wearing shorts and tops. The trapeze is set up above grass and secured by a number of ropes. Behind the trapeze is a makeshift curtain made up of different pieces of fabric. Behind the curtain a motor car can be glimpsed. In the far background are trees and an electricity pole.

More Information