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Artifact Friday: Australian Slouch Hat

Good morning, everyone!

Today we are covering a unique artifact in our collection called the Australian “slouch” hat.

The original hat was a khaki cowboy-style hat with a felt hatband. However, in 1885, this uniform hat was turned up on the right side by the Victorian Mounted Rifles so it would not get in the way during rifle drills.

When the different colonies of Australia were issued new uniforms, they too adopted the “slouch” hat tradition. Tasmania wore it on the right side while New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and West Australia wore the brim up on the left side. This design became a standard military issue for all Australian forces in 1903 except for the artillery corps. The “slouch” hat has three parts. There is the main part-the hat. Then the puggaree, which is the cloth band around the hat can be assorted colors depending on the unit that is wearing it or the

area in which they are stationed. Then there is the plume. It has been ostrich, eagle, swan, or

even emu. The emu plume, however, is only worn by the Armored Corps. This is because the Queensland Mounted Infantry was called up in 1891 to help the civil power put down the shearer’s strike. As the soldiers rode to their destination, they would ride alongside the emu population and pluck a feather from a bird placing the feather in their “slouch” hat. The Mounted Infantry became the Armored Corps; thus, they have used emu plumes ever since then. The “slouch” hat that we have in our collection was from a World War Two-era uniform. It is a traditional felt material and khaki color. The band is plain and light-colored; however, there is no plume on it. Someday we hope to find a donor of a plume from this era so we can display this beautiful piece of history rightly! Currently, the hat is safely stored in our archive room for its continued preservation. But we hope to have it out on display someday soon!

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