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In its early European history, the beachside suburb of Sandgate was something of a getaway for Brisbane residents - a place for holidays and day-trips. Originally known as Cabbage Tree Creek, the name of the area changed as the area was surveyed and it soon became widely known as Sandgate. There is a number of different versions as to how it became known as Sandgate, but what seems to be the most common one is that it is named after a Sandgate that exists in Kent in England, which is also a seaside suburb.

After the first official land sales in Sandgate took place in 1853, the early settlers became involved in catering for the tourist trade. One of the first landholders, Charles Davie, established the area's first hotel, which was soon to be known as the Belvedere Hotel. The second Sandgate Hotel was opened by another early settler, William Loudin, in 1862, whilst another early settler, John Baxter, opened the Cabbage Tree Creek 'cafe' in 1862.

By the late 1860s, various seaside cottages were listed in newspapers as being available for rent at 3 pounds per week, and in the 1870, there was more growth in accommodation houses, including the establishment of Villa Marina, Belair and Musgrave.

Other important dates in Sandgate's history:

1861 - Bridge across Cabbage Tree Creek is constructed

1865 - Formation of a company to construct a pier

1868 - Regular coach transport between Brisbane and Sandgate - not a daily service at this time

1873 - Sandgate State School with the original classes held in the chapel of the Baptist Church. The first teacher was W.R. Barfoot

1874 - First permanent Sandgate State School building

1876 - Daily coach services from Brisbane to Sandgate, via Nundah

1880 - Sandgate proclaimed a municipal borough

1880 - Sandgate was proclaimed a town. The names of some of the first town councillors are honoured in the names of streets in the area - Townsend, Board, Bott, Kift, Deagon

1881 - Railway construction contract awarded

1882 - (11 May) Railway line to Sandgate opened

1887 - Post Office established

1912 - New Town Hall completed to replace the original chambers which were destroyed by fire in 1910

1915 - Sandgate Drill Hall opened, possibly replacing an earlier building. The Drill Hall has been moved to the Chermside Historical Precinct

1919 - Shorncliffe State School

1935 - Hornibrook Highway opened