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An Akubra wide-brimmed hat
Akubra is an Australian brand of hat, whose wide-brimmed styles are a distinctive part of Australian culture, especially in rural areas. The name is believed to be derived from an Aboriginal word for head covering.

Akubra's best-known hats are made from rabbit fur felt with wide brims, and the term "Akubra" is often used to refer to a hat of this kind.

The Akubra name is synonymous with the landscape of rural Australia, and these hats form an important part of an Australian’s traditional clothing. Akubra hats are traditionally worn by farmers, graziers, horsemen, stockmen and women on the land as well as those visiting Australia who wish to take an Australian icon home. These hats may be used for sun and rain protection, to gather eggs or mushrooms, to cover the eye of a recalcitrant horse that has to be handled, to fan a fire and to water dogs when in the bush.

History

The original hat-making factory, not called Akubra at that time, was founded in the early 1870s by Benjamin Dunkerley. A recent immigrant to Australia, Dunkerley set up shop in Tasmaniamarker after inventing a machine that removed the hair tip from rabbit fur, leaving the softer under-fur for use in the making of felt hats.

Dunkerley and his family later relocated to Sydneymarker, in New South Walesmarker, where he hired a young man named Stephen Keir. While working for Dunkerley Hat Mills, Keir married Ada Dunkerley, Benjamin's daughter. After Benjamin Dunkerley's death in 1918, Stephen Keir took over the reins of the company, moving to a larger premises and adopting Akubra as a brand name. The trade name "Akubra" came into use in 1912.

Akubra is famous for providing many of the Slouch hats used by Australian forces in both World War One and Two. In the 1950s, the Akubra Company expanded its range when it won the licence to produce Stetson hats in Australia, and by the 1970s, the business relocated from Sydney to larger premises in Kempsey, New South Walesmarker. Steven Keir's sons Herbert and Stephen Keir II later ran the company, followed in turn by Stephen Keir III and now Stephen Keir IV. The company is still a family concern. Its current owners are the great, great-grandchildren of Benjamin Dunkerley.

Over 100 different styles, various colours and brim widths are produced in the Akubra hat range.

Stage musical

Cast members and 'crack riders' (expert riders), in the musical The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular, wore Akubra hats.

References

  1. Akubra hats Retrieved on 1 March 2009
  2. Akubra website Retrieved on 5 March 2009
  3. The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular — Theatre Programme and DVD credits


External links




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