AUSTRALIA ~ The Antipodes

AUSTRALIA ~ The Antipodes
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Zara Bate and Family


Dame Zara Bate's grave is at Sorrento cemetery on the Westernport Bay side of the Mornington Peninsula.

Dame Zara (1909-1989) had a number of surnames.
She was born in Kew, Victoria and her maiden name was Dickens.
She married and became Fell in 1935. James Heywood Fell was a British army officer with the rank of Colonel.
They divorced in 1946.
Later in the same year Zara married Harold Holt - a solicitor and member of the House of Representatives. (She knew him before her marriage to James.)
While Harold spent time in Canberra, Zara opened a boutique called Magg in Toorak village, Victoria. Business was so successful that another Magg boutique was opened in Double Bay, Sydney.
In 1961 a Magg evening dress was voted `Gown of the Year’, and in 1962 Miss Australia, Tania Verstak, wore a Magg gown in the Miss International contest, which she won. Zara Holt also advised on Australian uniforms for events such as Expo ‘67 in Montreal and the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968. Ref: HERE

Harold became the 17th Prime Minister of Australia in January 1966.
When he mysteriously disappeared at Victoria's Cheviot Beach on the Mornington Peninsula, on 17 December 1967, Zara was at the Lodge in Canberra.
In 1968 she was appointed DBE.

In 1969, at Toorak, she married the flamboyant federal politician Henry Jefferson Percival Bate till he died in 1984.

Zara retired to (and died in) Surfers Paradise in Queensland, but she is buried at Sorrento cemetery, the nearest cemetery to Cheviot Beach.
And the faded details of the headstone just read:
Dame Commander of the British Empire.
Rest in Peace


Zara's grave is unpretentious, seemingly squeezed between others.
There is barely an outline of the site apart from the headstone.


And a little mystery.
Zara and James had 3 children - Nicholas (Nick - a lawyer), Sam (now a Melbourne lawyer) and Andrew.
(There is rumour that the twins were actually Harold's - before the marriage.
Harold adopted all children and gave them his surname when he married Zara.))
Quite a distance back from Zara's grave is this headstone.
One of the last born twins?
It lacks detail as does Zara's headstone, simply stating:
Andrew John Hugh Holt
Born 23.5.1939
Died 21.12.1997

Zara's marriage to James broke down soon after the twins were born in 1939.

More family connections:
Sam's son Robert is a corporate lawyer and owns a bookshop in Noosa Heads, Queensland.
Andrew's son is Christopher.
Sophie and Pippa are daughters of Nicholas.
Sophie's home is in Portsea. She is involved in the designer fashion labels just like her grandmother and is renowned for reviving Elle B and Country Road. For more details see HERE!
Pippa Holt is a Contributing Editor for Vogue. Prior to Vogue she worked at The Times as Fashion Editor of the Saturday Times Magazine and before that she was at Australian Vogue. She lives between London and Dublin.


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11 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Fascinating and interesting post for the day, Gemma! Terrific captures as always! Hope you have a wonderful week!

Sylvia

Sondra said...

Well she certainly wasnt afraid of marriage!! Very interesting post.

Ann said...

Interesting. Where's Holt's memorial - Cheviot Beach?

VioletSky said...

Interesting that only her most recent surname was included with such a family history!

Oakland Daily Photo said...

I think you have a career as a genealogist if you want it. Zara had quite the life that her tombstone doesn't reflect. I want to go and repaint the lettering, but maybe in red this time.

biebkriebels said...

She had a full life and was honoured for it.

Herding Cats said...

Intersting post. Such a plain and non descript grave for someone who had such a colourful life.

Julie said...

Totally fascinating, Gemma. I think it was on Neil's post about the graves of the four presidents, that I commented that the simpler the memorial the bigger the ego! And that would be true here.


Zara was no shrinking violet, was she? Why on earth she married that yucky Jeff Bate, I have no idea. He was in the House for nigh 20 years and didn't even give his maiden speech.

I had read all that scuttlebut about her and Harold and the boys. Who is to know. Who is to know?

I agree with Carolyn. You do a grand job of this genealogical research. I love it each and every week. More power to you!

Gattina said...

Never heard of her All the divorces ! How tireing ! Better not getting married !

Kathy said...

My goodness, what a family history. Has anyone written a book about all the intracacies?

Gene said...

Such a worn grave for being so recent. Bad choice of materials for something lasting, I guess.

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