12) Apothecary / Barber / Undertaker

Jack Of All Trades

12) Apothecary Barber Undertaker

This building was originally the paymasters shed at Perry's Mill, on Beach Rd. Batemans Bay (The current site of Spinnaker's Reach Apartments). During the first half of the 1900's, the economy of Batemans Bay like many coastal towns, relied heavily on the production of sawn timber and timber products.
The Barbers Shop, Apothecary and Undertaker were typical of the multi-tasking businesses of many traders in the mining areas. They sprang up to fill a need in wealthy communities. People sold meat, vegetables, water, mining supplies and other commodities out of the back of a wagon. Some very large trading companies (e.g. Myers in Victoria) had their origins in the gold rush.
Barber shops were usually indicated by a barber's pole, often just a verandah support, painted in the traditional colours of red and white spiralling. The colours represented blood and bandages.
The barber was quite accustomed to the fine and accurate use of sharp blades (safety razors did not exist back then ~ shaving was done with the dangerous, straight edged "cut-throat" razor and required a steady hand). It was only natural then, for the barber to also fill the role of doctor and surgeon in those areas where a doctor was not available. Sometimes a doctor would only visit on a weekly or a fortnightly basis. It was thus quite normal for the barber to also dispense drugs as an Apothecary. In this era, laudanum (a mixture of opium and alcohol) was most commonly used as a painkiller. It seems then quite logical, in the natural scheme of things, that the hairdresser should also be the undertaker. Some say it was so that he could bury his mistakes.
Two fine examples of Tasmanian Death masks are on display. One has a plump face indicative of a middle class well fed man. The other with its heavy scaring around the neck is a multi-offending convict.