The Mullet Festival is held every year in the small town of Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia. You might think, if you didn’t know better, that this is a fishing festival celebrating the fish of the same name. You would be wrong. The Mullet Festival celebrates a slightly bizarre hairstyle, the Mullet, which has a good claim to be Australia’s national hairstyle.
Since 2018, fans have congregated each year to celebrate the Mullet “style” (I use the term very loosely), and to witness a competition to find the most outrageous examples; There is a version called the “Ranga Mullet”, which apparently means red-headed. “Ranga”, I am told, is an abbreviation of the word “orangutan”………enough said!
The festival in Dubbo, is celebrated on August 20th each year, for anyone wishing to attend.
As an aside, I have actually been to Dubbo, to visit a distant uncle of my mother. Maybe its reputation as the center of Mulletism is the reason the family uses the word “distant” to describe the uncle?
The Mullet style is a hallmark of small towns “down under”, although I am reliably informed by my partner that it is common in high schools in the United States as well. To some fans it is seen as a badge of country culture (culture is very loosely defined here). “It’s a uniquely Australian invention – one we should be selling to the world,” claimed Mark McGowan last year, and he is the State of Western Australia’s premier politician. In fact, he claims, the mullet probably predates modern Australia. (I wonder if the aborigine tribes know about this claim? Maybe we should be asking the orangutan population?).
Recently, the style has staged a wider resurgence, with Australia Rules Football players, rugby players and even cricketers sporting the Mullet. Cameron Smith, a golfer, sports a lengthy specimen, occasionally with the letters “AUS” shaved into the sides. He is apparently celebrated as a “very cashed-up bogan” (a term roughly translated as “wealthy redneck”). And Australians think they speak English!
One pundit, a Mr. Pinger, claims the Mullet is all about the Aussie myth that the country is full of good-at-heart mischief-makers. In other words, it is simply all about the Aussie sense of humour.
However, not everyone appreciates the joke. The Mullet hairstyle has become so trendy with teenagers that several private schools have banned them. They are “untidy, non-conventional and not acceptable” griped the masters of Trinity College, a boy’s school in Perth. Some bars and nightclubs in Western Australia have turned away men with Mullets for failing to meet dress codes. Resulting brawls were inevitable and, perhaps, have even become part of the Mullet culture! In Dubbo, of course, you can be thrown out of a bar for not wearing the Mullet!
The debate over the Mullet has even reached the country’s top politicians. “Taking the shears to freedom of expression” is “A snip too far” quipped Bill Shorten, a former leader of the Labor Party, last year. He even suggested that oppressing Mullet wearers might lead to an uprising, or the “Mullet Spring”.
“I think you should be free to wear the Mullet and go to a pub,” Mr. McGowan has proclaimed. Mullet wearers, he says, should “rise up and rebel against rules that prohibit the style”.
Hopefully, the Australian sense of humour will prevent some aspiring, idiot politician from declaring these harmless???? “Australian culture and style” protectors from being declared terrorists. I eagerly await your comments.