Every Hats by Felicity creation has a story – usually involving people and places, and almost always about feathers.
In the mid 1990’s when I was working as a jillaroo on Mandora cattle station south of Broome, I was introduced to the Sandfire Roadhouse. Many of you will know Sandfire as a roadhouse where you fuelled your car, grabbed a bite to eat and continued along the great northern highway, but for us in 1996, Sandfire road house was our local drinking hole. With no towns for hundreds of kilometres north and south, for us Sandfire was more than just a fuel stop and a place to grab a pie, it was our pub.
Understandably, I was devastated when in 2007 Sandfire Roadhouse as we knew it suffered an electrical fire and burned to the ground. The roadhouse reopened with a transportable within 48 hours of the blaze and in April 2010 the roadhouse that we know today, opened, but without the bar that will now remain part of history.
If you’ve ever been to Sandfire, either then or now you would have met the friendly peacocks that roam the site and in particular the rare white peacock. Owner Ken Norton has known me since those early Mandora station days and always been a supporter of my millinery journey, and each February, when the peacocks malt their feathers, Ken collects them for me to use in my millinery creations.
It was a given that when I was chosen to showcase on the runway of New York Fashion Week that I would use these magnificent peacock feathers in my collections.
In 2015, I showcased my Spring Summer 2016 collection on the runway of my solo show with my finale’ piece honouring the white feathers of Sandfire and acknowledging the fire, with my creation aptly named “Sandfire Ash”.
No sooner had she landed from the runway of New York Fashion Week, Sandfire Ash then appeared on the Seven Network Sunrise breakfast show program, the eve before Melbourne Cup Day, 2015.
When I returned home to Broome from New York and Sydney I had a visit from Ken Norton, who wanted to purchase Sandfire Ash for his partner Dorothy. I was ecstatic. I always love to know where my creations end up and to know Sandfire Ash would be down the highway from Broome made my heart sing. Given the creation’s size was somewhat a feature, Ken also put in an order for a Mini Ash for Dorothy, that she could wear to the races.
Dorothy not only donned Mini Ash for the Broome Cup 2019 but she also wore Mini Ash to her Daughters wedding, as Mother of the bride in Ireland.
Ken always said he wanted to display Sandfire Ash with the story of her journey from Sandfire Roadhouse to the runway of New York Fashion Week and true to his word, here she is.
Next time you’re driving the Great Northern Highway and pull into Sandfire Roadhouse, make sure you say Hi to Sandfire Ash (and Ken and Dorothy).