Exploring the History and Tradition of Australian Outback Hats

Exploring the History and Tradition of Australian Outback Hats

Australia’s Outback is a unique and diverse ecosystem, full of rugged beauty and fascinating wildlife. Its deep roots in the country’s history and folklore have resulted in an array of traditional clothing items that embody its spirit. One such item is the classic Australian Outback hat.

Australian Outback hats, otherwise known as Akubras, are a type of wide-brimmed hat that have been part of the Australian working man’s wardrobe since the early 20th century. These simple but iconic hats were originally designed to protect workers from the harsh sun in Australia’s outback regions and have since become an integral part of the nation’s identity.

In this article we will explore the history and traditions that surround these unique headpieces and learn why they remain so popular today.


The origin of the typical Australian Outback hat can be traced back to the 1850s when immigrants from Europe began to settle in Australia. These new settlers wanted a sturdy hat to protect them from the harsh sun and frequent droughts of their new home, so they created what would become known as the iconic Australian Outback hat. This style features a wide brim made from oiled leather or felt, along with reinforced stitching for extra strength, and a chin strap to keep it secure in windy conditions.

The name “Akubra” is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning “head covering”. The original Akubra was first developed in 1870 by Benjamin Dunkerley, a British hatmaker who had emigrated to Australia. He designed a hat with a generous brim and comfortable fit that was suited to the needs of workers in the harsh outback environment. The Akubra quickly caught on, becoming an essential part of the outback worker’s wardrobe.

Tradition & Significance:

The Australian Outback hat has become an important part of the country’s history and identity over the years. It is often seen as a symbol of resilience and hard work, as well as being closely linked with the pioneering spirit that made Australia what it is today. The popularity of this type of hat also extends beyond its historical significance; it has become a staple item in many fashion collections due to its timeless style and practicality.

The Akubra has become a symbol of Australia’s pioneering spirit and is now worn by everyone from farmers and stockmen, to city folk who want to embrace Aussie culture. The hats are made from a range of materials including rabbit fur felts, beaver pelts and wool blends. They come in a variety of styles including the classic “bushman” shape as well as more modern cuts like fedoras and pork pies. Each hat is finished with a leather hat band and a metal Akubra badge for identification.


In recent years, the popularity of the Akubra has seen it become an international fashion statement. They are now worn all around the world by people who appreciate their classic style and Australian heritage. They have also become something of an icon in popular culture with celebrities like Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and Sarah Jessica Parker sporting them in films, television shows and music videos. The Akubra is even said to be one of the oldest surviving hat brands in existence today!

Popularity & Variations:

Today, there are many variations on the original design available to suit different tastes and occasions. From simple felt hats with a brim to more elaborate designs featuring bright colors and patterns, outback hats are available in a wide range of styles. They can also be made from various materials such as straw, wool, and canvas.


The Akubra Outback hat has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1850s. It has gone from being an essential tool for protecting against the harsh Australian sun to becoming a global fashion icon and symbol of resilience and hard work. From farmers and stockmen, to city folk and celebrities alike, these iconic hats are appreciated around the world for their classic style, practicality, and Australian heritage.

The Australian Outback hat is both a practical tool and a symbol of pride for Australians everywhere. It is steeped in history and tradition, yet remains relevant and fashionable today. Whether you are a hardworking farmer or an urban hipster, the Akubra is sure to add a touch of style and character to any outfit.