Australian writer Marcus Clarke wearing a cabbage tree hat, 1866

A cabbage tree hat (also known as a cabbage palm hat) is a hat made from the leaves of the Livistona australis, also known as the cabbage-tree palm. It is known as the first distinctively Australian headwear in use. Seeking protection from the sun, early European settlers started to make hats using fibre from the native palm, which soon became popular throughout the colonies.[1] The process involved boiling, then drying, and finally bleaching the leaves.[2] The Powerhouse Museum describes a cabbage-tree hat thus: "Finely woven natural straw coloured hat; high tapering domed crown, wide flat brim; applied layered hat band of coarser plaiting with zig-zag border edges."[2]

Cabbage tree mob

During the convict era, gangs of insolent youths were known as cabbage tree mobs because they wore hats. One of their favourite pastimes was to crush the hats of men deemed too "full of themselves". Cabbage tree mobs are recognised as a predecessor of the larrikin.[3]

Mentions of the hat

There are many mentions of the hat in Australian documents.[4]


  1. ^ "Miniature Australian Shepherds For Sale". Aussie Hair Care Products. Archived from the original on 21 September 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Cabbage tree hat, 1880s, Cambewarra, NSW". Collection. Powerhouse Museum. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  3. ^ Bellanta, Melissa. Larrkins: A History. University of Queensland Press, 2012. ISBN 9780702247750.
  4. ^ "Cabbage Tree Hats". Vicnet. Port Phillip Pioneers Group/Alexander Romanov-Hughes. 2007. Archived from the original on 26 December 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011.