A few readers picked up on my “new” hat. (You guys are paying more attention than I have been giving you credit for!) Actually, that hat is about 20 years old. I bought it as an eventual replacement for my everyday hat, which is now over 30 years old, and showing its age. That first hat, an Akubra, is getting very thin and starting to break up. Over the years, in the Territory, then central and northern Queensland, it has absorbed a lot of harsh sunlight, dust and sweat. It is time to give it a rest before it falls to bits.
The pieces of leather were all added as strengtheners and to cover wear points where it first started to break. It is a bad habit to grab the front of the crown when taking the hat on and off. (But I habitually do so.) That quickly leads to a hole forming in the peak. The buffalo badge, carved from a piece of buff horn, was a necessity too. I needed to have a chinstrap when racing about in powerboats and ATVs, to stop the wind blowing the hat off. When not needed, the cord for the chin strap is wound up and secured by the buffalo horns.
My “new” replacement hat is also an Akubra – a sombrero model made famous by Les Hiddens, the Bush Tucker Man. It has not seen as much wear and tear as my main hat, but it is now time for it to do so. The wide leather hatband provides external reinforcement to that supplied by the internal hatband and helps cover sweat stains. I scavenged four metal buttons with little crests on them from my wife’s huge button collection. That allows me to keep the hatband securely fitted, but removable if I need it. The feather is from one of the Guineafowl that frequent the yard. I liked the pattern on it.
Given my ongoing focus on wild dogs, I decided to have a bit of fun. A pair of fangs from a big old dog and a little cast-metal dog skull were too good to ignore, so they form the centrepiece on the front.
It looks like this new hat, which I wore for the first time on my recent boar hunt, might be a lucky hat. That afternoon, I shot a wily old boar that I have been chasing for more than three years. Maybe, my lucky new hat will be as productive on wild dogs? Let’s hope so anyway.