the right place

Park honours a legend of television

sustainability Article #64

Mardi Henderson reflects on 55 years of happiness with Brian Henderson, and the family’s joy that a park will be named to remember him always at NINE by Mirvac in Willoughby.

There could be no more fitting tribute to Brian Henderson than a park named in his honour at the place where he ruled the television airwaves for 46 years. The legendary newsreader and host of the hit music show Bandstand, passed away in 2021, having devoted his working life to Channel 9, the Willoughby studios like a second home to the one he shared with his wife Mardi.

As Mirvac transforms the former home of Channel 9 into a community of elegant residences set in park like gardens, Mardi is overjoyed that her husband of 55 years will be remembered in perpetuity at Henderson Park.

“To think the park is being named after Brian makes me have goosebumps,” says Mardi. “He would have been so chuffed. Before he died, he had an inkling that something was in the wind after he saw concept plans for the development but when Mirvac asked my permission I was just blown away.”

It’s not only Mardi excited by the tribute. Their two daughters, Nicole and Jody, and five grandchildren are just as enthused that “B”, as he was fondly known to his family, will be forever remembered at NINE by Mirvac.


“To think the park is being named after Brian makes me have goosebumps. He would have been so chuffed.” 



Mardi and Brian shared a love of nature

The Lawn leading from Henderson Park

For more than four decades Brian Henderson was a nightly presence reading the News at Channel 9 but even before then he claimed the title “teen idol” as the host of Bandstand, where he rubbed shoulders with all the top Australian and touring international acts.

He had a media profile not dissimilar to more contemporary idols, his bookish good looks, hornrimmed glasses and trademark conservative suits, making him quite the star. Mardi met Brian in 1964 and they were engaged a year later, beginning a blissful 55-year partnership.

Their “celebrity wedding” featured in newspapers and magazines and as the family grew, their life was documented in countless cover stories – their home renovations, family life, all made compelling news.

Mardi says they never sought the limelight, steering away from red carpet openings, instead entertaining on weekends in their sprawling Killara home. After the children had grown up and left, they planned their next move knowing that it would be their “retirement home”.

“Killara was the fun house that our children have incredibly fond memories of,” says Mardi. “It was like a big country house with a tennis court and pool, so we did a lot of entertaining, whereas the home we built in Middle Cove was quieter, not as raucous.”

Filled with art and artefacts they had collected over the years, one of the most striking features of the Middle Cove home was its connection to nature.

“You could be in the shower and feel like you were in the outdoors with floor to ceiling windows looking into a private garden and the sky,” says Mardi of their home of 24 years.

Planted with a mix of natives and perennial favourites like agapanthus and camellias, the gardens were a magnet for birdlife.

“We didn’t have a pet when we moved to Middle Cove but the birds became our pets,” recalls Mardi. “There were five kookaburras that we fed twice a day. Before Brian became unwell, we would walk along the reserve track to Sugarloaf Bay which was full of birds.”

Many of the trees and shrubs that attracted the birds that Brian and Mardi loved so much at Middle Cove will feature in Henderson Park. Over 70 per cent of the planting palette is composed of native and endemic species such as acacias, banksia, grevilleas, melaleucas, eucalypts, angophoras and lillypillies.

A jacaranda will stand at The Gateway to Henderson Park where a canopy of tall trees will provide welcome shade with seating and lawn beneath, inviting young and old to sit a while and appreciate the beauty of nature.

Brian Celebrating

Mardi Henderson

The park forms the centrepiece of around 6,500sqm* of open green space at NINE by Mirvac, the first stage of which is now complete, where a network of landscaped walkways traces a path between the residences, pocket parks, The Lawn and Parabol Playground.

The intensity of the landscaping at NINE by Mirvac is a deliberate move to restore the tree canopy and create a welcoming natural environment for residents and the broader community.

“On Sydney’s lower north shore, it’s extremely rare to have such a large expanse of land to create something truly magnificent,” says Toby Long, Mirvac General Manager of Residential Development NSW. “The true scale of the site was never evident for the many years that Channel 9 was there.

“Once the houses and studios came down, we could see an incredible opportunity to restore the natural vegetation and create the type of landscape that would make NINE by Mirvac a place that residents of all ages would enjoy.”

While TV operations have moved to North Sydney, its history of broadcasting will be remembered at NINE by Mirvac through the naming of buildings, adaptive reuse of the TX transmission tower into play equipment, and, of course, Henderson Park.

“For five decades this site was known as Nine and that connection to its past life will continue at NINE by Mirvac,” says Mr Long. “In the process of renewal, it’s important to maintain links with the past; it helps to give a sense of belonging, valuing what once was while writing a new history.

“The naming of Henderson Park honours a man who was a pioneer of television and was universally loved and respected by his audience and colleagues.”

Mardi is now writing her own new chapter, having sold their Middle Cove home and moved into a new, more manageable home. The memories go with her but knowing Brian will forever have a place at NINE by Mirvac means a lot not just to herself but future generations.

“The naming of Henderson Park honours a man who was a pioneer of television and was universally loved and respected by his audience and colleagues.”


General Manager, Residential Development NSW


Brian on the Bandstand set

Brian read the Nine News for more than four decades

“Brian loved Channel 9 and he was very loyal,” says Mardi. “Television in Australia began in September 1956 and he started at Channel 9 in January 1957. So he was there from the beginning. He said he would have worked for nothing just to be in it and for the first few years he didn’t take a holiday.

“Before he died, he said don’t put me on a pedestal; remember me with my faults as well as the good things.”

Whatever those faults may have been, boastfulness was never one of them. Even his grandchildren had no idea that “B” was one of Australia’s most famous faces until his death became the number one trending news item. In the future, they will need only to visit Henderson Park to know that Brian Henderson, was and remains the face of Channel 9 and the most trusted voice in television. 

*The open space, 6,500sqm is approximate only and not to be relied on as the final size.

Discover more about Nine by Mirvac here.



Park honours a legend of television