“Hundreds of farmers have protested in Ashgrove against coal seam gas development in Queensland. The farmers chanted “Lock the Gate” as they threw their hats on the ground outside the campaign office of LNP Leader Campbell Newman.”
Yes, that was the news on March 12, 2012; you can read about it in the Courier Mail.
There is even video footage of hats being thrown down in protest…
But what does throwing your hat down mean here in Australia?
Well, in mediaeval times, a knight throwing down the gauntlet was a challenge to a fight, picking up the gauntlet meant accepting that challenge.
Australia didn’t have mediaeval times.
In a more modern UK, people about to engage in a fight might take off their jackets and hand them to the person standing next to them to signify to their opponent they are ready to fight.
We don’t much wear jackets here in Australia.
So for Aussies, throwing your hat down is the traditional way to challenge for a fight.
But what sort of hat would that be then?
I can tell you, it’s not a bowler hat as one might have worn in England. Nor would it be a cap more commonly worn up north. It isn’t quite the same as a cowboy hat that might be worn in the USA either. The iconic Australian hat is…
The Akubra Hat
In 1874 Benjamin Dunkerley arrived in Tasmania from England and decided to make hats. He was pretty good at it, and his hats became very popular. In 1912 he started using the trade name “Akubra”.
The hats look like they are made of felt but they are actually made out of fur; the ‘under fur’ of animals, not the long, coarse hair commonly called fur. The fur used is mainly a mixture from beavers, hares and rabbits. Some Akubra hats though, can be made of straw.
There are around 70 different styles of Akubra hats, but do I own one?
Here I am in the middle of the outback, standing in front of Standley Chasm with Elizabeth, who isn’t wearing an Akubra hat…
I am though.
So what style is my hat? I’ve never looked before, so let’s find out together. I’m now looking inside the rim of my hat to see what it’s called. Ah, here it is, my hat is called a…
Oh dear, not very exciting, is it? Of all the Akubra hats Mrs BobinOz could have bought, she buys me a Plainsman? Is she telling me something?
Probably the most exciting Akubra hat and maybe the most famous is called The Croc. It features a genuine crocodile band with crocodile teeth and satin lining.
This guy wore one, and I can’t believe it’s taken me nearly 4 years to get this video clip on my website. I’ve misquoted the line (example, “Call that a mushroom? This is a mushroom!“) many times on this blog, but having just watched the video clip, I realise I’ve even been misquoting it wrong.
I always thought the original line was “Call that a knife? THIS is a knife!” But it isn’t, I wasn’t even close…..