News / Community / Business / 14th October 2020
Cruising for a cut in the bush
You get a lot more than a great haircut when you come to the big black bus fitted out as a mobile hairdresser and beauty salon.
The “Walkabout Barber and Walkabout Beautiful” bus is the brainchild of proud Aboriginal man, Brian Dowd, who spent all day Tuesday, 13 October, pulled up at Neilson Park in Coonabarabran.
The portable barbershop was busy all day, with nearly 50 locals taking advantage of the complimentary services provided by Brian and fellow barbers Billy Newman and Jerome Smith.
All bases are covered with Brian’s wife, Shellie, and beauty therapist, Michele Hetherington, looking after the beauty side of things.
The new business venture was launched in the Warrumbungle mountains on Monday.
Brian said it was always his goal to kick-start the business in the town where he grew up and still loves with a passion.
The astute businessman has a barber shop in Newcastle, but spent much of 2018 and 2019 running the 2357 Barbershop in the heart of Coonabarabran’s CBD.
While business was fine, he was forced to close due to his young son’s autism and the need for specialised support services. This gave him more time to develop his novel business plan.
“Before the bus there was a mobile trailer, which will now be leased to remote communities and used to teach young kids how to cut hair and get into the barber industry,” Brian said.
The new bus is fully equipped with four chairs up the front and two beauty spaces at the back for facials, nails and eyebrows.
“When we were cutting men’s hair only, the women were always asking what we could do for them. They wanted to be involved, so we upped the ante for the girls.”
Brian has fully funded the bus himself, without any government grants or backing.
He said local tradesman, Dan Lanzini, from North West Shade Sails, did a great job with the bus fit out, while the paint job was completed in Newcastle.
After a big day of promotion and catching up with family and friends, Brian and his team will head back to Newcastle.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the number of outback communities they will visit from 38 to just six, next year promises to be much bigger.
“Coona has gone through a lot of loss and grief in recent times,” Brian said.
“We’ve lost a few young ones to suicide and other tragedies – coming back home is my way of giving back to my local community.”
As a qualified trauma specialist, Brian said his clients always got more than just a good cut on the outside.
“I have some meaningful conversations in the chair. “I do mental health first aid checks with everybody who gets a cut and try to find out how they’re travelling in their journey. “When they leave they usually feel good both on the inside and out.”
With fewer barbers in the country, get used to the sight of the unique and eye-catching big black bus that is reshaping the face of outback communities.