by Donnie Hayden
© 2014, all rights reserved
Besides meeting baby Felix for the first time, spending time with family, visiting Australia for the first time, seeing the plants and animals of this wonderful country, I had one thing I wanted to bring back home, a hat.
I love hats of all kinds and always have I guess. But personally, I don’t think I look all that great in them. There is just one exception, in my opinion. Years ago, Susan found a relatively inexpensive black felt hat from J.C. Penny or JCP for short. I love this hat and have received several compliments in wearing it, so I suppose I look OK in it?
It has been associated with everything from Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, and Indiana Jones from the movie, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ OK, I get those connections, but one person thought it was a cowboy hat, which for the life of me, I do not understand that at all!
I also have a used, but cleaned white canvas hat given to me by a friend for spring and summer wear. I also purchased an inexpensive white panama-like hat. Neither of those two hats has ever received any comments while I’m wearing them so, what does that tell you? 🙂 I do have a baseball type cap which I rarely ever wear and one that has flaps to cover my ears in winter that I use when plowing or shoveling snow. I probably look like a dork wearing it, but my head and ears stay worm. 🙂
It is difficult to find anyone to dry clean hats anymore where we live. Most dry cleaners used to perform this service. I have had it cleaned twice. Once when I worked for Coit Carpet Cleaning in the Rochester, NY area, as their central office in Buffalo, NY. had a large dry cleaning and rug cleaning plant. But I no longer work for Coit and I’m not sure if they perform this service anymore?
The second time I had my hat cleaned was performed by a master hatter, right in Henrietta, NY. A friend told me to check him out. He was close to where we lived in the city until we moved to the country. His name is, Dave Brown. Dave Brown is a master hatter and he makes custom designed hats for many stars on TV and the silver screen. His hats have been featured in many familiar movies and soon to be seen in current projects. One day, I would love to have a hat custom made by him. Dave Brown the Hatter, is located at: 3054 West Henrietta Road, Rochester, NY 14623
You should check out his website, you will be amazed! see:
Well anyway, back to my story. I really think hats are sexy and men and women that wear the right one look handsome and gorgeous and children look adorable in them, adults and the elderly look great! Sometimes, even pets look spectacular in hats.
I was walking around Camden, NSW, Austraila just a short time ago, becoming familiar with this great community and yes, always on the look-out for a hat store or place that sells them. I found such a store and actually, I was just looking for a short sleeve shirt. But there they were, hats! 🙂
My search just started off looking for a bushman’s hat, a traditional top wear in Australia. But this store had Akubra.
“Akubra Hats are an Australian Icon. For 130 years Akubra has been making its famous fur felt hats. The Akubra name is synonymous with the landscape of outback Australia, and our unique hats form an important part of the Australian national uniform. In the modern era Akubra Hats still form an important part of the national culture, being worn by the hard working men and women on the land as well as being presented as national gifts to those visiting dignitaries who want to take a piece of Australia home.”
The store had several styles including the one like Paul Hogan wore as the character, ‘Crocodile Dundee,’ in the series of movies made with this name. It was called, ‘The Croc.’ I really thought the crocodile teeth were fake and made out of plastic. I found out later that my assumption was false.
But I found a style in black that I really liked called, ”The Coolabah,” so named after the tree in the famous Aussie song, ‘Waltzing Matilda.’ But alas, it was more than I wanted to pay and besides that, they did not have my size, which was supposed to be size 57 cm by Australian metric standards. “No worries,” as they say in Australia, we would soon be attending the Camden Show and hats would be sold there.
At the Camden Show, I could not find any hats I liked and there was not a single Akubra sold at the show. Hats for sale were just some inexpensive and poor quality ‘knock-offs,’ mostly made in China. I even tried on a ‘Croc’ wannabee, but Susan said, “Absolutely NOT!” 🙂 I will say though however, this hat was made in Australia with farm raised crocodile with leather band and teeth. One actually has to have a travel permit to carry this hat or a real Akubra out of the country. “No worries,” the permit is attached to the hats! 🙂
Later in the week, Susan & I returned to the local store. My heart was still fixed on, ”The Coolabah.’ The owner of the shop was away and a clerk promised to see if any were available, anywhere and in my size, even if he could trade one for another. Apparently, size 57 is the most common and ”The Coolabah’ is the most favored among foreigners and in black. Have you ever experienced something similar, you like something, but can’t get it or they stop making it?
Things did not bode well for, but the store took my email and said they would try to find one and promised to send a note as such – “Found Hat – Bring Head!” 🙂 Sadly, I never received such an email and it takes about 3 months for Akubra to make new hats. Once sold out, this is typically how long you need to wait. It looked like I would be leaving Australia in a couple of weeks without an Akubra!? 😦
To give you an idea of how great these hats are, the clerk told us that in 1986, Stetson hats of the United States had an arrangement with Akubra to make their hats in Australia. A Stetson hat is referred to as: ‘An American Tradition.’
In 1865, with a $100 investment, John B. Stetson rented a small room, bought the tools he needed, bought $10 worth of fur and the Stetson hat company was born. They are still made in the United States. A ‘Stetson’ is considered the most popular ‘cowboy hat in the world.’ Unlike the comment one person made about my black, JCP (J. C. Penny) hat, Stetsons’ are really cowboy hats! But the clerk in Camdem, Australia wanted a Stetson styled cowboy hat, made by Akubra in 1986, He still has this hat and it virtually, still looks brand new, though now, around 28 years old! I believe an Akubra is not a purchase, but an investment which will last for many years in rain, sleet or snow!
For more information on Stetson hats see:
During April 11-14, 2014, we were in the Blue Mountains in the town of Katoomba, NSW, Australia. We walked into a very unusual place that was part hat shop on one side and part cafe on the other, both sharing the same address. I chose the hat side and Susan and I went in for a look.
The Hattery sells all kinds of hats and accessories. They sell more Akubras than any other store in Australia. With this much clout and selling-power, they are allowed to change the bands for custom designing of Akubra hats and they have an exclusive design and color to their store. This hat cannot be purchased anywhere else in the world, but in the Blue Mountains, in Katoombah, Australia and at The Hattery or through their online store!
- one of Australia’s largest specialist hat shops
- holds the largest inventories of stock in Australia – so when you order you can be confident the hat is available immediately.
- is located just west of Sydney, Australia, in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains at Katoomba.
- is open 7 days a week, for visitors to our shop and on line customers
- is a established family owned and financially secure company that has specialized in mail order for international and local customers for over 16 years.
- we pride ourselves on offering the same level of service to our on line customers as to our in store customers
Shop 2, 197 Katoomba Street, Katoomba, 2780, Australia.
Australia: Phone: 02 4782 5003 – Fax: 02 4782 6265
Local call Australia wide: 1300 302 146
International: Phone: + 61 2 4782 5003 Fax: + 61 2 4782 6265
The Croc – Akubra
83 mm, Cut Edge
Features a genuine farmed crocodile band with real crocodile teeth and satin lining.
Coolabah – Akubra
Black, Bran, Regency Fawn, Santone Fawn
79mm, Cut Edge
This hat has been a successful addition to the Akubra range and is particularly popular with visitors to Australia.
Features a genuine farmed crocodile band, satin lining and eyelet vents.
The Coolabah in black size 57 is what I was looking for. But my head size was measured at the Hattery and it was a size 58. Guess I have a bigger head than thought. 🙂
Actually, you really cannot go by size necessarily. You really need to try on one, but if you are pretty sure of your size then order it from the Hattery in that size. They can ship it from Australia to the United States, almost faster than it would be to ship something from within the USA! And if it is the wrong size, let them know and another will be quickly sent out, even before you send the other back! They pride themselves in exceptional service, going even beyond Akubra’s suggestions, for the care and instructions for the long-life of your hat.
For myself, I chose ‘The Blue Mountains,’ Akubra, with approval from Susan. 🙂 It is an exclusive hat to The Hattery and the exclusive color is a dark blue (almost black), representing The Blue Mountains. I have had several compliments. I am very happy and more than satisfied! 🙂
Oh by the way, my hat cost $40 less than what I was expecting to spend. Gotta love that! Also, after publishing this post, a friend of ours Janet, read it and left a comment on my Facebook page that this week, Prince William and Kate will be visiting The Blue Mountains. Janet wrote, “Maybe he (Prince William) will get a hat like yours!!! “
If you would like additional information or to see how these authentic and superior quality hats are made, see videos from the Akubra website to follow here.