Nov 16, 2017

Australian Cabbage Tree Hat

Last weekend the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy in Canberra hosted a Cabbage Tree Hat workshop with Sue and Don Brian. Sue and Don had spent five years on Norfolk Island where they became interested in the history and practice of making the cabbage tree hat. The tradition of hat weaving continues on Norfolk except hats are made these days with flax, banana bark and Norfolk Palm.
Men's Cabbage Tree Hat, c. 1860-1880, owned by John C. Read, Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol from 1861-1889.

The earliest reference to wearing cabbage tree hats in Australia refers to an incident with Flinders in 1799 in An Account of the English Colony in NSW 1788-1801:
"Flinders was wearing a cabbage-tree hat, for which a native had a fancy. The fellow took a long stick with a hook at the end of it, and, laughing and talking to divert attention from his purpose, endeavoured to take the hat from the commander's head. His detection created much laughter; as did that of another black with long arms, who tried to creep up to snatch the hat, but was afraid to approach too near".

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