True Blue Aussie

Throughout the Australian countryside there are countless towns that have a landmark icon. Coffs Harbour has the Big Banana, Ballina has the Big Prawn and now the Maitland district has its own icon – a five-metre-high pair of ugg boots, thirteen times the size of a woman’s size-eight shoe. It is so typically Aussie – and proudly Hunter born and bred!

An Australian-owned family business for nearly 60 years, Mortels Sheepskin Factory, having recently opened new purpose-built premises at Thornton just outside of Maitland in the Hunter Region, is one of the area’s most enterprising and well-known businesses. Founder Frank Mortel, a master shoe craftsman, and his wife Rita emigrated from the Netherlands in 1956, bringing with them the trade of shoe crafting, a skill passed down through the Mortel family for over 150 years.

Mortels Shoes commenced in Sydney that same year hand making women’s fashion shoes and two years later in 1958, the couple commenced making ugg boots to add to their range of quality footwear. As such, Mortels is one of the oldest, continuously running and most experienced ugg boot manufacturers in the world.

The Mortel family then relocated from Sydney to the Maitland area in 1978. From a shed in Lochinvar, they made leather sandals and continued developing their range of sheepskin products and at the same time growing their brand, establishing a name and reputation solidly built on expertise and experience with a growing loyal customer base…

Story: Marilyn Collins.  Images: Firebug Photography.