Daisy Bates

Writing about Fiona’s work and her reference to Daisy Bates’ tent living reminded me to look at Ochre and Rust written by historian Philip Jones.

Jones has woven stories around artefacts from South Australian Museums. He dedicates one chapter to Daisy Bates. This makes sense because Daisy was such an important anthropologist and helper of indigenous people in South Australia.

What I have found interesting is the curiosity about Daisy and her clothes. Whenever there is mention of Daisy it is always about her anachronistic garb.

And Philip Jones’ chapter is charmingly called¬†‘The magic garb of Daisy Bates’.

He includes this magic like uniform and say Daisy was a frontier Mary Poppins with a lilting Tipperary brogue.

| Gaberdine suit purchased by Daisy Bates in about 1904 and worn by her until her death in 1951, South Australian Museum Archives |

I found a lovely article in the a 1940s Australian Women’s Weekly titled “At 80 she still prefers a camp-fire and tent life to comfort of a big city”.

Daisy says: In 1900 I went to a Parisian tailor in Perth. I told him I was ‘going bush’ and wanted to take with me a complete wardrobe… one that wouldn’t date. He made it. And so I took with me into the bush six navy blue serge coats and skirts, two grey tweed Norfolk jacket costumes, another of black broadcloth and a white taffeta ballroom gown.

She told the tailor that although she was going bush, she wanted to take with her clothes which she could wear to greet Royalty. And she did greet Royalty.

She goes on to explain: My tailor gave me special instruction in the care of my wardrobe. None of my clothes have every been hung-and only washable garments pressed. The art of keeping them in perfect condition is in the correct folding.

Good old Australian Women’s Weekly.

Julia Ritson

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