Day 23 – Wed 18 May 2005 – Is Margate like Margate?

Many locations in Australia are named after places in the UK. One of the ideas I had for a trip around the UK was to go to such places and see if there’s any resemblance between them. For example, I live in Chipping Norton, a quite pleasant, middle of the range, suburb of Sydney named after what seems to be a rather upper class town in the Cotswolds. In turn, ‘my’ Chipping Norton is located in the NSW City of Liverpool area, but I already know that ‘my’ Liverpool is nothing like the one on the Mersey.

I decided against the idea as it would distract me from seeing other places that sound more interesting, but as a token gesture I decide on one of my last days in the UK to visit Margate, which is only a relatively quick rail trip away. The connection is that I own and rent out a flat in Margate, a suburb in Brisbane, Queensland.

Kent countryside captured from the train

Margate, along with Clontarf (from Ireland) and Scarborough (from the UK), are on the beach-ridden Redcliffe Penisula, but have no surf to speak of because they’re sheltered from the ocean by the islands off Moreton Bay, (which means they’re probably the closest you’ll get in Oz to British beaches in character). Apart from that, their main claim to fame is that in the late 1950’s my dad was based in Brisbane and we used to spend our holidays there. One year my eldest sister raved about a singing group she saw perform there; some local boys called ‘The Brothers Gibb’, later to become known as the Bee Gees.

So, with one day left on my Britrail Pass, I’ll use it to pose the big question, ‘Is Margate (UK) anything like Margate (QLD)?’ And I’m glad that I did. The trip is longer and much more interesting than that to Brighton. The Kent countryside is quintessentially English; lovely rolling hills, farms, copses of trees, and country towns and villages. The train was a seven car DMU that divides at Faversham with the four front cars proceeding on the Margate while thee other three head off to Dover Priory.

The development is different and the beach wider, but the lay of the land is basically similar in Margate UK as it is in Queensland

And guess what, take away the buildings and there is a distinct resemblence. Both have a sandy beach curving slightly towards rising terrain, a moderately sized shopping centre, a main road running along the waterside and no surf. Queensland’s Margate has redder coloured sand (hence ‘Redcliffe’ nearby) and the tide doesn’t go out as far, but otherwise you could easily understand why someone who had been to Margate in the UK decided it wouldn’t be a bad name for Margate in Queensland.

Margate (UK) is nevertheless a very British coastal town. It has lots of little hotels and terrace houses and is pleasant in a ‘family beach’ sort of way. It has a little harbour and a beach swimming pool, but the tide was way out when I was there. I can return home content in my knowledge that there be some substance in my theory of the transference of place names on the basis of geographical resemblance.

Accommodation opposite the Margate railway station

And so, now it’s back to the hotel for my final sleep of this trip in the UK.

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