The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
18575 Hat, cabbage tree, maker unknown, Cambewarra, New South Wales, Australia, 1875-1885. Click to enlarge.

Cabbage tree hat

The cabbage tree hat is characteristic of Australian men's fashion in the nineteenth century. Woven from the fibre of the native cabbage tree palm (Livistona australis), the hats are historically significant as an early example of Australian dress made entirely from Australian materials. Furthemore, the date and origin of this hat are documented given that it was one of the museum's earliest purchases.

Cabbage tree fibre is produced by weaving the fronds of the cabbage tree palm instead of straw, it is typical of those made and worn by early settlers in Australia during the nineteenth century. At this time colonists adapted the farming, building and manufacturing techniques learnt in Europe to local materials and conditions. To manufacture even simple products, substitute materials and new fabrication processes had to be devised. Lime, for example, was needed for building with mortar. It came from oyster shells collected from local beaches. Burned to produce a low-grade lime, the oyster shells were used until good quality limestone was found some time later. Also, a substantial leather goods industry only became possible after the introduction of a new process for extracting wattle bark the tannin needed for leather tanning.

Renew, Robert, "Making it: innovation and success in Australia's industries", Powerhouse Publishing, 1993


Object No.


Object Statement

Hat, cabbage tree, maker unknown, Cambewarra, New South Wales, Australia, 1875-1885

Physical Description

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.



140 mm


330 mm


340 mm



Original stock book entry: " ... made from leaves of Livistonia australis, Mart: (Palmae) which are first boiled, then dried and afterwards bleached." (OF).



The Museum purchased the hat in 1888.


Credit Line

Purchased 1888

Acquisition Date

19 July 1888

Cite this Object


Cabbage tree hat 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 November 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Cabbage tree hat |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 November 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}