The original poem, Cabbage Tree Hat, was written by Charles Flower, a pioneer grazier who lived in the headwaters of the Dawson River in central Queensland. The tune is an Irish one called Rosin the Bow, which has been used for numerous other folk songs around the world.
A cabbage tree hat (also known as a cabbage palm hat) is a hat made from the leaves of the Livistona australis, also known as the cabbage-tree palm. It is recognised as the first distinctively Australian headwear in common use. Seeking protection from the sun, early European settlers started to make hats using fibre from the native palm, which soon became popular throughout the colonies. The process involved boiling, then drying and finally bleaching the leaves.
These three arrangements of Cabbage Tree Hat are part of a larger collection of choral arrangements of 20 Australian folk song titles. The works were commissioned in 2022 by the Queensland Kodály Choir as a legacy project of Australian Choral Music and are collectively available in a two-part anthology titled On a Distant Shore.
The Queensland Kodály Choir has generously determined that these anthologies and all of their associated resources should be made freely available to anyone who would like to make use of them. To facilitate this, whilst each of the arrangements is copyright, the full set of project resources has been licensed under Creative Commons International Licence, meaning that they can be freely shared, copied and/or redistributed.
Conductors/choirs wishing to access the Anthology – Parts 1 & 2 – and/or the companion rehearsal tracks, can do so by following the link to the Cuskelly College of Music website. The complete individual titles (including cover title page, vocal score, piano accompaniment, extracted instrument parts, performance notes and glossary of terms) are available in the Anthology Catalogue on this website.
Perusal and download copies of the three arrangements of Cabbage Tree Hat are available below.
Featured Image: “Goldminer” by J. Anderson, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales