The Holden Traveling Circus


TV Series & Soundtrack

One-legged trapeze artist Adolphus Holden founded The Holden Brothers 244099_LargeTravelling Circus in 1892.

Adolphus had 11 sons – all of whom played instruments – and one daughter, who all journeyed around Victoria by horse-drawn wagons, stopping to show in every village and hamlet from Melbourne to Ceduna.

This was the start of one of Australia’s longest-running family circuses. Little did Adolphus know that his legacy would be passed down from generation to generation, and continue to this day.

The fantastical, bygone era of the Holdens lives on through the marriage of music, stories passed down from family to family and stills from classic heritage footage.


Singer, songwriter and media personality Mark Holden continues to honour his family’s history. In 1998, Mark travelled with the Ashton’s Circus, who joined forces with the Holdens in the 1930s. On the journey, he met the matriarch, Phyllis Ashton, who passed on footage of the circus of yesterday like the first live outside broadcast recorded on cinescope called Ampol Show of Surprises . Her son Mervyn Ashton gave Mark all his 16mm footage from the 1950’s and 60’s which has never been seen before,

The footage is a remarkable peek into the colourful life lived by circus families over half a century ago.

For the past two years, Mark has been writing songs with his family, inspired by tales of the Holden Brothers Circus, as a tribute to the lives lived by the generations before him. The classic footage provides a mesmerising backdrop to the tales sung by Mark and his family, who have banded together to perform under the name of The Holden Brothers Travelling Circus.

Bruce Permezel, director of ABC’s multi award-winning series The Choir Of Hard Knocks, is currently bringing the scenes to life. Five 25-minute short films under the title of The Holden Brothers Travelling Circus will be released in 2014, unifying the old with the new.

Check out these quick teasers below.

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Or buy your physical DVD set from Sanity HERE.


© HBTC 2014