Local barber celebrates 40 years in business
THERE are not many men’s heads round this way Tony Seminara doesn’t know.
At his iconic barber’s on Lannercost Streeet he’s cut an average of 20 a day for five days a week over the past 40 years.
Even if you give the charismatic Australian-Sicilian a month off a year, that’s a fair few barnets he’s chopped.
It would be roughly 200 thousand.
If you were to stand all those people on top of each other (the guy at the bottom would need big shoulders), they’d be 40 times taller than Mount Everest.
Okay, many of the customers would be regulars.
But they all had hair that grew back (maybe some less so, as the years went by).
If you were to take all that hair, and stick it together, you’d have a wig big enough to dress Mount Fox.
Anyway you look at it, Tony has provided an outstanding service to Hinchinbrook over four decades.
And imagine the stories he’s heard!
‘I once cut Bob Katter’s father’s hair,’ he says. ‘He was a big imposing man’.
Tony also ran a video store for 28 years.
He has spent most of the 55 years he’s been in Australia in Ingham, other than a short stint in Melbourne where he cut the heads of famous jockeys.
‘No they didn’t!’ he chuckles, when asked if the riders needed the booster seat.
It was as a fresh-faced 18-year-old Tony, now in his seventies, who set sail for the Southern Hemisphere in 1965.
One of three sons born into a fruit farming family in Sicily, Antonino Seminara, nicknamed Nino, grew up with a desire to travel.
His uncle, while fighting for Mussolini’s Italy in the Second World War, had been taken prisoner by the Allies in Asia.
‘He was brought to Australia, to a camp in New South Wales,’ he says.
‘He was allowed out to work. After the war he had to return to Italy, but he came back’.
Tony’s uncle settled in Ingham and started a business, Victory Cafe, on Herbert Street.
It was that uncle who paid his passage to the Great Southern Land.
‘The fare was 228 pounds and 10 pence,’ he says. ‘My weekly wage was 16 pounds when I got here – so it was a lot of money back then’.
Tony headed straight to North Queensland, but not before he’d had a few wild times on the seas.
‘There was a lot of romance,’ he says cheekily.
‘We slept all day and partied all night.
‘We made friends with the baker, so at 2 or 3 am we got a bit of bread, or salami or whatever.
‘It was one of the best times of my life’.
Tony trained as a barber at an early age and at 15 was earning a man’s wage.
He made use of his scissors on the journey – though it landed him in a bit of strife.
The man who is a cut above the rest was undercutting the boat’s official barber.
‘And me being me,’ he says, ‘I was working on the boat – until they confiscated my bag.
‘They had their own barbers and didn’t want to lose business’.
He was on that ship for 31 days before arriving in Australia.
Fast-forward 55 years and he is still working.
‘I stopped and had a heart attack at 65,’ he says. ‘I thought I better start working again.
‘I don’t do it for the money’.
His 44-year-old daughter Rebecca attended Gilroy and is now a carer with Endeavour Support, who assist people with disabilities.
Tony travels out to Forrest Beach and provides discounted haircuts to the group.
He has watched Ingham’s population reduce the years.
‘The problem with a declining population is – business is a number’s game.
‘If you haven’t got the numbers – shops close’.
He blames the government for prioritsing higher education over trade and agriculture.
‘Any donkey can go to university today,’ he says. ‘Then they get ‘educated’ and don’t want to come back and work on their families’ farms’.
There is no exact recipe to success in business, but charm, determination and a lust for life are good ingredients.
Tony has these in abundance.
‘You can’t always win in life,’ he says.
‘Sometimes you win. Sometimes you’re second. But if you’re happy [he shrugs and smiles]’.
As the saying goes, when you’re smiling, the world smiles with you.