Grumpy / Lots more to Vancouver Street

Reader RIC HINGEE, of Duffy, is grumpy about a journalist missing a lot of the history around his childhood home.

Early days… A Mildenhall photo of 1 Vancouver Street taken in 1926.

READERS may have noted an article in “The Canberra Times” on September 15 on the history of what real estate agents have claimed over many years as Canberra’s most desirable street; Vancouver Street, Red Hill.

Unfortunately the reporter missed out on a lot of the history of Vancouver Street because she did not interview anyone who actually lived in the street from its inception.

My father Bill Hingee, a civil engineer who was responsible, or partly responsible, for many landmarks around Canberra including the Olympic Pool and its diving tower, the Administration Building, Scrivener Dam and the now submerged Cotter Dam, the Central Basin of the lake etcetera bought 4 Vancouver Street as a block of land.

In front of us was Sir John Eccles, across the road the Sir Hugh Ennor (both Nobel prize winners), and behind us the Ogilvie’s house and orchard (and large German shepherd dog).

The Russian ambassador’s residence was on our back fence and the Brazilian embassy cornered our back corner. Sir Patrick White was up the road. At some stage we rented out the house to the Cambodian and Laotian embassies and we moved to another great street, Grant Crescent.

Our house was sold to numbers of people and I understand was the first house to sell for $1 million in Canberra. As the reporter noted, the house also sold at a record price of $1.75 million in 1996. It had also been bought by Dr Fleming and by the owners of the then Mawson Garden Centre.

The paper’s journalist talks about developer Barry Morris fulfilling a lifelong wish to own number 4 Vancouver Street, but he was beaten to the punch by designer and builder Gary Willemsen who also had a lifelong ambition to live at number 4. He used to practise hockey with me on our front lawn once we had all the large potato crop removed and the Shoobridge’s two cows and our two sheep banned from the play area for a time.

There are many other stories to tell of our neighbours. Despite some of the comment in the article, we were not a monied family, but I did have the pleasure of mixing with Nobel Prize winners and their children and having tea and scones with the delightful Lady White, even though I was yet to become a teenager.

Those who read the recent article might be interested in this additional information on supposedly Canberra’s most desirable street.

Grumpy is an occasional column dedicated to things that get up your nose. Readers are invited to vent (no more than 300 words, please) at


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