Golly, what happened to Gumboots?
Out with the old boots, in with the new
Once upon a time all gumboots were uniformly dull. What else could be expected from a pair of rubber boots?
Always in serviceable black, the boots were made to protect your feet from mud and slush, not to be paraded up and down the town as a fashion item. As long as they kept our feet dry, that's all we asked.
These wet weather boots were made for practicality. For splashing in puddles, for sliding in sludge and for snail hunting at midnight with a torch. They were good and faithful servants. Sturdy, trusty and true.
But gumboots have changed! You could say they've come of age.
Gumboots come in all colours and patterns now, paisley, stripes and spots.Gone are the drab old days.
The Duke of Wellington
It's said that the first Duke of Wellington invented the gumboot about 1815. Like Lord Cardigan and the Earl of Sandwich, the Duke of Wellington left his name in the language.
The boots he required of his cobbler came up to the knee, higher in the front than in the back, and you can see them in his portrait to your right.
These boots were made of leather of course, we had to wait till 1852 and Charles Goodyear to invent the vulcanisation process before we got rubber boots.
These days they're made of PVC.
A boot by any other name ..
Call them what you like. Wellingtons, wellies, rain boots, rubber boots, billy boots, top boots, it's all much of a muchness. In Australia we call them gumboots.
Gumboot Day is celebrated in Taihape, New Zealand, on the Tuesday after Easter. It's a celebration of all things to do with gumboots, and features competitions such as the best-dressed gumboot and 'shoot the loop' with gumboots. The highlight of the day is the famous gumboot throwing contest.
The aim of the festival is to break the world record for the longest gumboot throw.
(Gumboots can also be tossed skyward on any day of the year in the official Gumboot throwing lane just behind Taihape's main shopping centre)
The BIG Gumboot
The Big Gumboot at Tully, in North Queensland.
The Racing Gumboot
Gumboots reached a new height of fame in 1983 when Cliff Young, a 61 year old potato farmer, won a race between Sydney and Melbourne (875 kilometres, 544 miles), after training in gumboots.
There is now a Cliff Young Gumboot award.