William MacMahon Ball (“Mac” Ball) was Professor of Political Science at Melbourne University from 1949 to 1968, having lectured there since 1923. He became known as an ABC commentator on international affairs from the early 1930s to the early 1960s. Between 1940 and 1944 he was Controller of Overseas Broadcasting (which later became Radio Australia). In 1945, he was political consultant to the Australian Delegation at the conference leading to the establishment of the United Nations, and in 1946 was the British Commonwealth Representative on the Allied Council during the post-war occupation of Japan.
Mac and his wife Katrine (plus daughter Jenny) came to Eltham in 1942, and in 1945 moved into an old timber cottage at the eastern end of York Street. With help from Alistair Knox, Sonia Skipper, Gordon Ford and John Harcourt, the house was totally renovated to become an early example of Eltham mud-brick.
Mac died in 1986 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with Katrine. Part of their land backing onto Bridge Street was donated to Eltham Shire Council and is now a reserve called MacMahon Ball Paddock.
MacMahon Ball Paddock
Marshall, Marguerite; Nillumbik now and then : Eltham and beyond; with photographs by Ron Grant, Eltham 2002
Meet at 2.00pm at the corner of Bible and Bridge streets, Eltham (Melway ref 21 K6). The planned walk will take about two hours.
This excursion is planned to be a walk through the precinct covering John Street, Eltham and nearby streets where there are a number of mud brick houses dating from the 1940s through to quite recent times. This free guided walk passes houses built by Alistair Knox, Gordon Ford, Peter Glass and others who made significant contributions to the Eltham tradition of earth building.
Most of the route traverses streets of Josiah Holloway’s 1851 Little Eltham subdivision. We will discuss this subdivision and the origin of some of the street names. On the way to and from John Street we will view some other places of historical or heritage interest.
The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Please note that this walk does not include internal inspection of any houses.
Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.
The phone number for contact on the day is 0409 021 063.
Our Society encourages interest in and the sharing of stories about the local history of the Eltham district in Victoria, Australia