If you’re travelling to Australia, you’re definitely going to need a good hat to protect you from the sun. So why not go native with an Australian outback hat? Australian outback hats are a vital part of traditional Australian dress. Once you leave the densely populated coast you will come across them pretty much everywhere you go. You will see hats from lots of different brands in a wide variety of styles, colours and materials. Outback hats have been worn by hardworking rural Australians for years to protect them from sun, rain or snow. All of my Aussie friends have one of some description, although none of them have one with corks dangling from the brim. They’re reserved for tourists only! You could say that the outback hat is Australia’s answer to the American cowboy hat as it emerged in similar conditions.
Because of the harsh conditions, the first Australians needed tougher than average hats just like the Americans in the West. They too hat to make their hats themselves. The resulting Australian outback hat is not as extreme in appearance to the American cowboy hat. The crown is shaped like a teardrop and is typically only 4 inches high with the brim being between 3 and 4 inches wide. The brim only gently rolls up at the sides and may be turned down at the front as well as the back. Outback hats are made from a wide range of different materials including various leather, fur felt, wool felt, straw and canvas. As a symbol of Australia, outback hats made a fantastic gift or souvenir. Indeed, Akubra hats are typically presented to visiting statesmen and women.
Akubra Hats Akubra has been a manufacturer of Australian outback hats for over a century although only under the name ‘Akubra’ since 1912. The hat business was started in Tasmania in 1874 by Benjamin Dunkerly. He was joined in 1902 by Stephen Keir I, who married his daughter. Akubra has been in the hands of the Keir family ever since and is now run by Stephen Keir IV. You can’t get much more traditional than that! Akubra hats are typically made from rabbit fur felt. The higher quality hats are made from wild rabbit pelt and the most popular style is the ‘snowy river’. You may be familiar with this style if you have been watching I’m a celebrity get me out of here!
BC Hats BC stands for Bill Conner, the man who invented the first mouldable brim outback hat. He did this by inserting a wire into it. Conner originally made a number of different leather goods including sandals which were still his biggest selling product even in 1969. However, outback hats soon became synonymous with the BC brand. Conner’s original outback hat style is called ‘The stockman’. You may have even spotted royal-to-be Kate Middleton out in one on occasion!
Barmah Hats What is great about Barmah Hats is that they are flexible and you can fold them down into their accompanying canvas bag. This unique feature makes them perfect for travelling. Barmah Hats are made from a range of different leathers including kangaroo, crocodile and cattle.
Wombat Leather Hats Wombat Leather hats are a relatively young brand of outback hats originally from the UK but made with traditional Aussie spirit. A number of different styles are available in a variety of different leathers including full-grain, split and suede. Wombat Leather hats are easy to get hold of in UK and Europe which means you can buy one in preparation for your trip or when you return from Australia if you are worried about your new hat getting squashed and ruined on the journey.
Cork hats Cork hats are traditionally worn by Australians to keep flies out of their faces. Just kidding! I don’t know anyone who wears a hat like that and I’m not sure it would work either. Cork hats are probably best reserved for fancy dress parties!