Welcome to the Mad Hatter’s Tea party taken in the Nursery rhyme section of the Hunter Valley Gardens. Whilst the Mad Hatter accepted any type of hat in Australia there is only one hat that really matters. The hat the bushies wear – a hat made from rabbit pelts – the Akubra. It used to only be seen on cow cockies (farmers) but now it has become the Aussie icon hat to wear. Females wear them.
The first akubra was made in Tasmania in 1874 by Benjamin Dunkerley who had recently arrived from England and started a hat making business.
Dunkerly was not only a hat maker but an inventor and he soon developed a machine that would remove the hair tip from the under fur so that a process that had been done by hand was revolutionised and the felt produced with speed.
The business flourished and moved to Surrey Hills in Sydney and then needed bigger premises and moved to Waterloo. It hit the jackpot during the war when it was commissioned to make slouch hats for our servicemen.
The company continued with Crocodile Dundee and the White Shark adding to those wanting an akubra hat so that now the Akubra is known and sold around the world In 1988 the factory moved from Sydney to Kempsey in the north of NSW.
These days 70% of Akubra hats are purchased by the rural sector and the remainder by all those that want an iconic Australian hat. Not much to do with the mad hatters tea party but I like that photo.
And when the hat has seen better days it can’t be thrown. They become like old friends and then are used as farm shed decoration.