Toss some shrimp on the barbie and suit up for summer with some of the coolest Aussie outdoor wear on either side of the hemisphere.
Oregon Outback Outfitters in downtown Sisters is bringing a little taste of Down Under to Central Oregon with its line of rugged outdoor clothing from Australia, including shirts, jackets, vests, shorts, hats and heavy duffle bags.
Owners Larry and Laura Gibons took over the building next to Clear Water Gallery across from Sno Cap in November from previous tenants Sisters River Company, but didn’t actually open until this past Easter weekend.
“It took me that long to remodel,” Larry said. “We had to completely gut it and get it ready for our application. There were boards and pipes sticking out of the walls for the kayaks to hang on and it was all painted dark green and gray. We needed it to be bright and cheery and wanted to give it a whole new face.”
One of the featured apparel collections carried in the store is Kakadu Traders Australia, operating globally and in business since 1972. They’re a major clothing manufacturing company operating in Germany, China and Australia, in addition to the United States. Their distinctive sportsman’s line of clothing is prized by hikers, fishermen, global travelers and adventurers.
“It’s seven Australian brothers who have a worldwide reputation for high-end, high-quality, outdoor wear using heavy cotton canvas and durable water-resistant oilskins,” he said. “Even the buttons and zippers are all brass, as are the rivets. They really do a fine job and the workmanship is excellent, all double stitched.”
Larry comes from the island of Maui, after moving there from Detroit to be closer to his family.
“I was in the restaurant equipment and supply business for thirteen of the fourteen years I lived there and was food and beverage manager for Club Lanai,” said Larry. “I came to Oregon in 1995 and never left. We’ve been coming to Sisters on holidays, getaways and even just to get a milkshake, always working on a way to somehow get out here to stay. Anything we could do to get into the Sisters areas. So when the opportunity opened up we jumped on it.”
Oregon Outback Outfitters is known for stocking authentic drover’s coats and jackets and their concealed carry line of vests and jackets, which are designed with a sewn-in holster and two magazine pockets. Besides firearms, they can also be used to hold valuables, passports, electronic devices, glasses, or anything else that needs to be protected.
“We sort of consider ourselves the concealed carry headquarters for this whole area because not many people carry these lines to the extent that we do,” Laura said.
Besides the new store, the Gibons and his crew sell at all major outdoor trade conventions, sportsman’s gatherings and gun and knife shows under the name, Kakadu of Central Oregon, to further introduce their classic Aussie lines.
“We do shows in the entire Pacific Northwest and are now venturing East into Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah,” she said. “The shows are very popular during the winter and spring but tend to die down in the summer because everyone is out playing with their toys. So having the retail store is advantageous for the other warmer months.”
The brick and mortar store gives the Gibons the credibility for doing their trade show biz with a legitimate headquarters in a popular resort destination.
“It allows us to say we are based in Sisters, Oregon and you couldn’t ask for a better location,” said Larry. “It doesn’t matter who you talk to or tell, people light up when you mention Sisters and they have their own stories about fun vacations or special occasions spent here.”
The store also carries limited-edition investment artwork from nationally recognized artists, custom stained-glass windows and unique glass gifts.
“This clothing all has a true western outdoor look that this area is actually known for,” he explained. “Sisters is a real cowboy town with a huge number of outdoor activity lovers. We’re both real proud and happy to be a part of the business community and looking forward to a fruitful summer.”
Oregon Outback Outfitters is located at 371 West Cascade Avenue and open daily 10-5. Visit them online at www.kakaduvests.com or call 549-9923.