From a dairy farm to Buckingham Palace

Margaret from our Gladesville Home grew up on a dairy farm in a family of politicians, but spent time hitchhiking around Europe and even attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace!

Margaret was born on the far South Coast where her family were dairy farmers and cheese makers at Tilba. Her grandfather was the local Member of State Parliament and renowned for bringing hydroelectricity to the village from his farm using water from Mount Dromedary. Woe betide anyone in the village – including family – who misbehaved. The power soon cut off!

After local school, she went to Annesley in Bowral as a border for nine years and become head girl in 1947. There was an influx of students in the war years and even Kerry Packer was there for two terms in 1943, with girl cousins. Margaret used to regale the family with school tales of how she slept in winter on an open verandah in Bowral!

Her father, Jeff Bate, was also a Member of Parliament and for a time he and his father served together. When he returned from war service they moved to Sydney. In 1949, he entered Federal Parliament and years later married dame Zara, widow of Prime Minister Harold Holt.

Margaret became a legal secretary and was off to the UK with friends for an eventful two years including hitchhiking around Europe. She even managed a garden party at Buckingham Palace and was dropped off at the gate in a Morris Minor!

She was a good tennis player and played social tennis for many years. She continued her legal work after marriage and also worked for Quadrant magazine.

She married Norbert in 1957 and recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. They lived in Pymble for 43 years and downsized to Huntleys Cove in 2001. The family of four boys are well scattered: Peter in Bangkok, Philip in Singapore, David in Mosman, and Richard in Captains Flat, NSW. They have five grandchildren and their family are frequent visitors to Ashburn. In retirement, they traveled extensively, particularly to family in Asia and spent a lot of time at their Clematis Cottage on Wallaga Lake between Tilba and Bermagui.