Rotary Club of Ballarat

Hans Rubens - History of the Akubra 14th April 2022 Gallery

Last Week's Speaker - Hans Rubens - History of the Akubra

Rotarian Allan Terrett introduced Hans who has recently moved to Ballarat and originally ran a business selling Akubra hats, but due to COVID he had difficulty with supply so decided to close his business and retire.

Akubra is a recognisable brand across all of Australia, and began in 1874 by an English immigrant Benjamin Dunkerley, who arrived in Tasmania from England and decided to start hat making,

He was known to have a skill in both hat making and inventing machinery. One of his biggest successes was creating a machine that mechanically removed the hair from rabbits, which before this was a very slow and manual task.

Dunkerley soon partnered up with Stephen Keir I, one of Dunkerley's hat workers and his son-in-law. In 1905 he married Ada Dunkerley, Benjamin's daughter and soon after was made General Manager.

Since that time the hat making firm has been in the hands of succeeding generations of the Keir family.

The brand grew in success, creating hats for the army, the Melbourne Olympics, and a number of high-end buyers.

The name "Akubra" came into use on the 7th of August 1912 and has been famously known ever since.

The Akubra is a distinctive part of Australian culture, especially in rural areas of the country. Known as an important part of traditional outdoor clothing in Australia, they are often worn by hunters, farmers, graziers, and horsemen. and are practical for workers out on the bush, protecting wearers from sun and rain, as well as used to hold items, fan fires, and to even water dogs when in the outback.

Hans also spoke of a series minted of 26 different $1 coins where each features a letter of the English alphabet and an Australian symbol starting with that letter. The coin for the letter A features the iconic Australian hat, Akubra and gave each member a $1 Akubra coin.

A very interesting address enjoyed by all members