CABBAGE TREE HATS


Ever wondered what a cabbage tree hat is? Read on.

If you recall the address by Police Historian Gary Presland at the Annual General Meeting in March 2005 you may be interested in this item from Volume 6 of "Historical Records of Victoria" edited by Michael Cannon and Ian McFarlane. On page 201 there is this reference:

'Police Troopers wore a distinctive dress uniform, consisting of a blue jacket with red facings, black trousers with red stripe, Wellington boots, and pill-box cap. While on duty in the bush they usually wore patrol jacket and trousers, and wide brimmed cabbage tree hat.'

Port Phillip Pioneers Group member Ray Edmunds did some research, and came up with these. Firstly:

'Of the gentlemen one saw, a good sprinkling were squatters . . . . Many of them, I noticed, indulged also in blue serge shirts in lieu of coats, cabbage tree hats, belt supporting leather tobacco pouches, and in some cases a pistol . . . . '

And

' . . . . In the country, cabbage palm hats, as large as an umbrella, tied under the throat and sometimes burnt black by the sun, were especially common. Practical and cool, they were plaited from the plant Livistonia australia that grows in semi-coastal rainforest areas . . . . Later the making of these hats from cabbage palm became a form of cottage industry . . . . '

Ray's source for the first excerpt was Edward Micklethwaite Curr's "Recollections of Squatting in Victoria" as quoted by James Grant   Geoffrey Serle in "The Melbourne Scene 1803 - 1956".

For the second excerpt the source was Margaret Maynard's "Fashioned from Penury". Ray tells me that this second book is an excellent reference for anybody interested in 19th century fashion and convict clothing.

So there you have it!

P.S. - In "Men of Yesterday" (page 53), Margaret Kiddle refers to the cabbage tree hat as 'ubiquitious' in the 1840's.

Information supplied by Julie Hopper ( PPPG Member No. 1300 ) and Ray Edmunds ( PPPG Member No. 1034 )


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