IT wasn’t until Robyn Vella was unable to drive that she realised Wedderburn was lacking an essential service.
The town of 941 has been without a salon for more than 15 years. Various mobile hairdressers have come in and out, but now Ms Vella is calling for something permanent, by instigating a Facebook callout.
Until two months ago, Ms Vella had always been a healthy person, able to look after herself entirely. However, a recent breast cancer diagnosis saw her forced to rely more on those around her for transport.
Blurry vision and other side effects of chemotherapy have left Ms Vella unable to drive herself for the past two months. It has hit home how hard it can be for people with limited mobility to access essential services.
With other residents, she is rallying for the town to get its own hairdressing salon.
“It wasn’t until I actually became reliant on other people that I realised how important essential services are to a town, and one of those essential services is a hairdresser,” Ms Vella said.
“I just said to myself: ‘how do other people feel when this sort of thing happens?’”
It’s not only the social element which concerns Ms Vella. She also hates to see money go out of the town.
“A lot of people from Wedderburn are travelling everywhere to Inglewood, to Charleton, to Bendigo, and they’re 35 kilometres or more away,” she said.
“When you go out of your town to go to another hairdresser, what of course do you do? Spend your money out of town.”
Never one to be backwards in coming forwards, Ms Vella kickstarted discussion on the Wedderburn Facebook page this weekend.
Responses were overwhelmingly in favour of a salon, however, a few voices were concerned that the town may not be able to sustain a full time hairdresser.
However, Ms Vella is confident there is enough demand for the service.
“Wedderburn can sustain a hairdresser,” she said. “We have a school, we have a shire office and we have all our essential services. We have 750 people in the town, 1200 in the catchment area.”
Ms Vella is so confident, she’s even got the salon ready… or almost. With a group of other residents, Ms Vella has found the perfect main street location shopfront.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for someone who is looking to start a small hairdressing business, she says.
“There’s an opportunity there,” she said. “We’ve got a brilliant shop front in a good location.”
“If you’re looking for an opportunity to start a small business, to have it there in a shop front, Wedderburn’s got it there for you.”
Lockington faced a similar problem earlier this year. In March, the town of around 800 people bid farewell to its hairdresser. Now, they’re excited to welcome a new one in the coming days.
Beryl Marshall who spoke to the Advertiser in April was looking forward to welcoming the hairdresser. The situation has been “terrible,” particularly for the elderly without a car, she said.