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Cabbage-Tree Hat

traditional Australian song,
composer unknown

The cabbage-tree palm (Livistona australis) has cabbage-like leaves which were used by Aboriginals to make their shelters waterproof.

Early settlers in Australia copied this and the first Sydney Cove buildings had roofs thatched with cabbage-tree palm leaves.

Settlers also wove individual leaves into hats as noted in this song.


There's something neat in a cabbage-tree hat,
When it fits the wearer's crown;
There's in it a sort of jaunty look,
With its streamers hanging down.
Let others boast of the felt or brab,
I cannot with them agree,
For nobody looks so like a swell,
As a man with a cabbage-tree.

Go where you will round Lambing Flat,
Every digger wears his cabbage-tree hat,
Go where you will, now think of that,
You're right it you've got a cabbage-tree hat.

Let the roughs and the muffs talk as they will
Of the rowdy cabbage-tree mob;
It's no paltry tile that costs a pound,
And adjust to adorn your nob.
Roam as you will round Sydney town,
The lasses will all agree,
You're just the man to escort them out,
If you've got on a good cabbage-tree.

It's been worn by men of every clime,
Though Australians bear the sway;
Though used at the present day.
No matter what caste, or class, or creed,
Whether rich or poor they be;
They'll never want a friend in need,
If they've got a good cabbage-tree.

The rich look down on the poor man's coat,
If but seedy it appear;
But a cabbage-tree hat is a different thing,
For it's free from a wealthy sneer,
New chums will wear it to ape old hands,
And get bush logic pat;
Yet, where would they be twixt you and me,
If minus the cabbage-tree hat.

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