News & Events

Actress bring Eloise to life

July 25, 2019

Actress and Rushall Park resident Lois Collinder reckons she would have liked Eloise Juno, the woman who moved into the village in 1910 after a career travelling and performing around the world.

Celebrated Melbourne actress Eloise Juno must have been a formidable person, not just on the stage but also in her private life. Born in Scotland in 1840 Eloise had already established a reputation on the stage by the time she arrived in the colony, having debuted in the production of Oliver, in Edinburgh, when she was 16. She was just 27 when she arrived in Victoria from New Zealand in 1867. Her first Australian appearance was at the Royal Theatre in Melbourne under George Coppin.

“Imagine that – a young woman travelling alone around the world performing and building up a successful career at a time when women simply didn’t do that,” Lois said.

Lois, well known for her acting roles in some of Australia’s most successful dramas including Prisonerand Neighbours, will try and capture something of Eloise’s spirit and determination at the Rushall Park 150th anniversary garden party on Sunday 27 October.

She has researched the character and is currently writing the script for a short performance, about the life of Eloise, that she will perform a few times throughout the open day. She will reveal something of the woman who defied many of the social conventions of her time.  The two women have much in common.

Lois began performing when she was two years old and through her childhood got to perform in Wirth’s Circus and in children’s pantomimes. She performed many amateur shows at various theatres and at Melbourne’s famous Tivoli theatre.

She worked at the department store George’s for 20 years and then had a radical change of career, throwing in a reliable weekly pay cheque for the precarious life of a full-time actress. The move paid off and she became a familiar face on Australian television.

Lois hopes Eloise enjoyed life at OCAV’s Rushall Park village as much as she does. Clearly, she was a popular resident and was said to be ‘the idol of the inmates’.

“I just love living here so much. How could I not love it? I am close to public transport and to the city, which I love. My unit is gorgeous and there are lots of lovely people in this community,” she said.

Lois moved into Rushall Park four years ago and is involved in various activities, including the weekly watercolour-painting group. She cooks for the kiosk when it is open and attends many of the social activities. She is also working on art boxes as part of the open day art exhibition that will convey residents’ perceptions of home.

Village historian Ruth Richardson is currently making the period costume that Lois will wear on the day, to add that extra touch to the Eloise act.

“I hope that when people see my performance they will know that Eloise was a strong woman and that she was a performer.”

The apartments are beautiful, with lovely, open and bright rooms, and a balcony for growing plants in pots. I am starting to make my apartment into a home.

– Catherine, Leith Park

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