To be honest, I’m not entirely sure of the history of the bush barber. John Williamson wrote a song about them and I’ve come across a rather interesting (tongue-in-cheek) article from 1885 which states that they were once old shearers who eventually turned from shearing wool to trimming hair. Who knows, perhaps it may have been true for that period of time but it seems likely that eventually the bush barber was simply a travelling barber who visited various rural towns and stations in the outback in order to cut hair and make a living.
From what I can tell, it looks like they were common up until the late 1930s but then eventually disappeared (perhaps when people were able to travel to barbers themselves).
A closer look at the history of these interesting gentlemen may need to be conducted in the future, but, for now, I couldn’t resist sharing some wonderful images found within Trove.
- 1882 ‘A BUSH BARBER.’, The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil (Melbourne, Vic. : 1873 – 1889), 29 July, p. 232. , viewed 07 Jun 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60620414
- 1906 ‘No title’, The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912), 17 October, p. 995. , viewed 07 Jun 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article163682247
- 1911 ‘No title’, Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 – 1931), 29 April, p. 29. , viewed 07 Jun 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article164722502
- 1933 ‘THE BUSH BARBER.’, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), 28 December, p. 57. (THE WESTERN MAIL), viewed 07 Jun 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article38017468