There’s something about seeing a group of women dressed in purple, wearing red hats and great ‘bling’, socialising, touring about and clearly having a fabulous holiday together, that just makes you smile! During each winter on Norfolk Island the annual Gathering of Red Hatters brings quite a unique sense of fun and madness to this Island.
Red Hatters describe themselves as being ‘50’s + something’ aged women who meet and travel in the name of fun, wearing red and purple attire. They say “the party is just beginning” having stopped counting the years and begun living life with fun at the top of the list. With Red Hatter’s located across Australia and New Zealand, the Norfolk Island Chapter will be celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2018. The anniversary also marks the number of years they have hosted a gathering on Norfolk Island where both Aussie and Kiwi Hatters meet ‘in the middle’ to enjoy a holiday together.
Each Red Hatter Chapter is led by a Queen (but of course!) and together with the Chapter members, the names they choose are based on personality traits mixed with, you guessed it, a bit of fun. Norfolk Island’s Chapter is led by Her Royal Highness Queenalee Rosalie Radiant Rose of Divinity, who rules over her ‘Bounty Babes’. In past years the Island has played host to royalty such as HRH Queen Cointreau, Queen Likestoswimalot, Baroness De Chat, Lady Garden Gnome, Dame Outrageous, Empress of Elephants, Lady Luvs a Laugh, Duchess of Bolinger, Grand Duchess of Goodtimes, Dame Maureen of Desserts – and even Madam Mayhem!
In all seriousness though, while frivolity may be what naturally occurs when Red Hatters get together there are some fundamental ways that being a Red Hatter can deepen, enrich and empower lives. This comes from making new friends, sharing life’s ups and downs and having the opportunity for a release from daily stresses. For Queen Rosalie and the Bounty Babes, hosting the annual Gathering has become the main activity of their year and as the Norfolk Island trip is longer than most mainland Gatherings, they have focused their fun on how visiting Hatters can truly make the most of precious time away from home responsibilities.
Clearly Queenalee Rosalie and the Bounty Babes have been successful in their aim. Visiting Hatter Queen Likestoswimalot from South Australia’s Port Pirie Piretts described the sense of comradery and friendship at the 2016 Gathering as “feeling like a sisterhood”. In common with our local Chapter, the Port Pirie Piretts are also from an isolated region. Queen Likestoswimalot adds; “Meeting Hatters from all over the country gives a real sense of connection and comradery”. And for solo female travellers a Red Hat Gathering can make the difference between deciding to take a much needed break or not. Jayne, travelling alone from a Brisbane Chapter, summed it up as “being instantly well looked after by other members meant that there is no way to feel lonely or unsafe”. But staying serious is hard for Red Hatters and Queen Wendy from Russell Island in Queensland felt she’d had so much fun she was going to be “applying for asylum” at the end of the 2016 Norfolk Island Gathering!
In recent years Norfolk Island Gathering highlights have included masquerade luncheons, High Tea, an Elvis show, mini-golf mayhem and afternoon tea at Walk in the Wild, plenty of champagne and of course plenty of bling. There have been street parades, bingo, mad cap challenges, local touring and dinner entertainment and a lot of dancing. Back in 2007 the first Norfolk Chapter Queen was Queen Shirl the Purl, aka Shirley Henderson. Queen Shirl had a ball plotting itineraries with now Patron Agnes Hain and others including Zena Zeistra and Maeve Hitch. Now Queenalie Rosalie and another dozen Bounty Babes are dreaming up ways to out-do the fun of the last nine years at September 2018’s 10th Anniversary.
What could there possibly be not to like about Red Hatters? The annual Gathering on Norfolk is like a breath of fresh – albeit it purple and red – air. Bringing much needed madcap fun into our modern stress-driven world, the local Chapter and the Red Hatters Society make a serious difference to many ‘aged 50 something’ women.
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in Discover Norfolk, Volume 02 Issue 01, 2018. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.