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The emu plume had been worn by Queensland mounted units prior to Federation. This practice was continued by Queensland Light Horse units after Federation and by AIF Light Horse units raised for service during the First World War. Despite permission being given for all Light Horse units to wear the distinction, many did not, regarding the plumes as a distinction of Queensland units only.
The emu plume had first been worn by members of the Queensland Mounted Infantry during the Great Shearer's Strike of 1891. Sir David Fairbairn grandson of George Fairbairn, owner of Peak Downs, recorded that a detachment of Mounted Infantry troopers guarding a gang of ‘non-union’ shearers rode down to the creek one day when things were quiet and shot an emu. Each took a handful of feathers and placed them in the band of his hat. By 1897 emu plumes were being worn by all Queensland mounted units.
The arrival of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment in Egypt wearing plumes, caused great consternation among Queensland light horse regiments, who believed the distinction was theirs alone. Eventually the Minister of Defence intervened, ruling that all light horse regiments could wear the distinction. Despite this, many light horse regiments refused to wear the plume, believing it to be a Queensland distinction. Colonel H. C. Chauvel, commanding officer of the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, wrote of his "very strong feeling" in support of the Queensland Regiment's sole right to the plume. The commanding officer of the 7th Regiment (NSW) not only supported the Queenslanders' claim, but also expressed his preference for "the ordinary (hat) band", describing the emu plume as "an unnecessary and useless item".
Like many originals, these reproductions have been made by attaching the feathers to a leather base which is placed behind the hat band or puggaree.