After 44 years, Torquay barber Charlie Simonis is somewhat of an institution in Hervey Bay but he has decided to retire on Christmas Eve.
After 44 years, Torquay barber Charlie Simonis is somewhat of an institution in Hervey Bay but he has decided to retire on Christmas Eve. Nat Bromhead

Charlie swaps scissors for a rod

AFTER 44 years in business in Torquay, Charlie the barber is getting ready to hang up his scissors and comb.

The 66-year-old, who is something of an institution in the Bay, decided it was time to devote more attention to fishing, golf, bowls and exploring the top end of the country and Western Australia.

He'll finish up on Christmas Eve and plans to hand over to a new barber.

Tucked away down an arcade between the post office and Foodworks, entering his shop is a little like taking a step back in time with its green square floor tiles, laminate benches, arched mirrors and bare brick walls.

Charlie Simonis wears a white coat, knee-high socks and shorts and seats customers in a 1930s cast-iron dental chair that still tilts and moves up and down.

No appointments are necessary and customers sit by the window awaiting their turn.

They flip through the National Geographic or fishing magazines while they wait and talk about politics or whatever's on their minds.

“You name it, they'll discuss it,” Charlie said.

He takes it all with a grain of salt and a sense of humour.

Charlie remembers the day an elderly client who had lost his licence after an accident came to the door and announced he had driven to the shop.

He didn't realise – until Charlie pulled the cape up and showed him the shirt sleeve – that a police officer was in the chair having his hair cut.

Charlie's trade consists mainly of locals and a little while ago he achieved a milestone when he cut the hair of a fifth generation in the one family.

Charlie used to cut the dad's hair, his lad's, his lad's lad's and so on until he reached the fifth generation son.

He works from 8am to 5.30pm each weekday and remembers years when he didn't take a holiday because times were tough.

Charlie also visits housebound clients to cut their hair and said he would probably keep doing that after retiring from full-time work.

“I'm grateful for the time I've been here – it's been good,” he said.

Charlie's thankful that the business, which he took over from his father in the 1960s, has helped him and his wife Rhonda put their three children through university and that he still enjoys good health.

“Stay positive and be thankful you wake up every morning,” he advised.

“As soon as you wake up it's another good day.”



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