How It Began—The Tale of Kakadu Traders Australia

by melissa whillas May 25, 2023

If you've been on the hunt for top-notch oilskin fabric hats, bags, and other outerwear, then chances are high that you must've stumbled across Kakadu Traders Australia—a true icon of ruggedness and durability, with oilskin products built to last years.

But have you heard the incredible origin story of how it all began?

A small initiative by the Whillas family, providing rugged garments to help them battle the harsh arctic winds.

Kakadu oilskin drovers coat

Discover the tale of Kakadu Traders Australia—the story of how a small business achieved global success. Explore how it all began and delve deeper into their journey. Read on for inspiration and insight.

Harsh Arctic Winds at the Jaffa Lighthouse

“Standing guard on the South Australian Coast, the iconic Cape Jaffa Lighthouse stood as a lonely beacon against the harsh arctic winds that lashed the coast.”

Browsing through the pages of history, you will find that most of the discoveries, inventions, and creations have always come as an answer to people looking to solve major problems. The origin story of the Kakadu traders is incomplete without the Jaffa Lighthouse. The Whillas family, stationed at the Jaffa lighthouse, bore the brunt of relentless Arctic winds that battered the South Australian coast.

Harsh Arctic Winds at the Jaffa Lighthouse

Richard Charles Whillas, accompanied by his wife Catherine Whillas, had to fend for themselves and their 14 children and were looking for ways to protect themselves from the harsh Australian elements. And when a problem presents itself, an inventor rises to the challenge.

Reinventing the Wheel: Whillas Crafted Their Signature Oilskin Fabric

Back in 1898, a New Zealand sailor who went by the name of Edward Le Roy made oilskin garments to help fellow sailors and fishermen stay dry while out at sea.

Drawing inspiration from the oilskin garments used by sailors and fishermen alike, Richard Willas and his family constructed their own oilskin cloth using the old-fashioned ‘wringer mangler’. And they replaced the linseed oil and wax that Edward Le Roy used with a combination of oils and waxes found on the local land. The signature garment crafted from specially treated fabric was waterproof while allowing for breathability and flexibility.

Kakadu Drovers Coats Ballina NSW 

All thanks to this garment, the Whillas family could hold their own and protect their family and wharf equipment against the rough weather as they manned the Cape Jaffa Lighthouse.

A Name Inspired by Nature: The Kakadu Connection

Since 1972, Kakadu Traders Australia has become synonymous with quality outerwear and hats that embody the spirit of the land down under.

Inspired by the breathtaking Kakadu National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site adorned with ancient Aboriginal art and culture — our products exude a stunning array of colours, diverse flora and fauna, and raw landscapes.

A Name Inspired by Nature: The Kakadu National Park Connection

Spanning 20,000 square kilometres, the Kakadu National Park is inhabited by over 2000 plant species, one-third of Australia’s bird species, and a fascinating range of animals, including wallabies, dingoes, crocodiles, and snakes.

The Whillas family chose the name Kakadu Traders Australia to reflect the ruggedness and beauty of the flora and fauna of the park. Even the raw materials used — from strong canvas, refined oils and waxes to rugged cowhides and kangaroo hides — are drawn from the national park. Also, did you know that our kangaroo hide hats boast five times the strength of cowhide hats of the same thickness?

Our products not only provide protection from the harsh weather and environment of Australia, but they also reflect the colours, flora, and fauna of this awe-inspiring destination.

Kakadu Traders: Three Generations of Excellence

Kakadu Traders Australia has built a solid reputation around the oilskin cloth—a fabric considered the world's oldest natural breathable material. This versatile fabric has become a hallmark of our brand, setting us apart from our competitors and allowing us to craft products that consistently exceed expectations.

Kakadu Traders: Three Generations of Excellence

Now in its third generation of Whillas family leadership, we continue to uphold the values and traditions that have made our brand a global icon. Our dedication to quality and innovation has allowed us to expand our reach, supplying reliable, rugged products to over 50 countries worldwide.

Whether you're venturing into the untamed wilds of the Australian outback or simply seeking durable, stylish outerwear for your everyday adventures, Kakadu Traders Australia has just the right product for you. With our rich heritage and time-tested materials, our products will not only meet but exceed your expectations. Experience the Kakadu difference for yourself—browse through online store today!




melissa whillas
melissa whillas

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Size Guide

SIZE CHARTS

GARMENT SIZE GUIDE

On average, women should order one size smaller for unisex sized garments (if you size to a 3XL in women's, order a XXL for unisex).

WOMEN'S SIZE CHART

For women's clothing, order as sized below. 

HOW TO MEASURE YOUR HEAD

Kakadu hats - or Mates as we often call them - come in all shapes and sizes so you're sure to find a Mate that suits you.   

But first things first, lets determine your correct size. Remember you want comfortably firm

Kakadu hats - how to measure your head