TAMBORINE MOUNTAIN STORIES give you an insight into many of the local businesses and characters you will find when you Escape to Tamborine Mountain.



Barbershops and hairdressers across all places and cultures often represent more than just a place to get your hair cut—they’re places where people can unwind, be treated to a fresh new look and allow themselves to be open and relaxed. Crackers Mens Barbershop on Tamborine Mountain is no different, taking care of the mountain mens’ grooming, and providing them a space of their own, for 24 years running. Gary Freeman, owner and barber, has a long history in his trade, and it’s given him an enlightening perspective on mountain life.

by Kyle Hitchmough

What was your original inspiration to open Crackers Mens Barbershop?

Just travelling around the mountain, we came up and there was no barbershop here. There had been one previously but they’d closed down. We thought it was a nice place, great to raise kids, so we thought we’ve give it a go. We set it up, and away we went. And we’re still here!

Where does the name come from?

It’s an old nickname from years ago, but it’s been on three other shops of mine over the years. There’s one in Tuncurry and there was one in Toowoomba.

Have you always been a barber by trade? How did you get started in that industry?

Yes, that was my trade when I first left school. My sister was in the game, so I started working for her. You took whatever job you could get back then, but I grew an interest in it. I, opened a shop in Sydney and then moved around, mid-North Coast, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast, and eventually here.

Are there any current trends in hairstyles in the area you’ve seen a lot of?

We generally do everything from traditional men’s barbering, short back and sides, right through to mohawks, fades, mullets… the whole box and dice. Styles have come around and around and come back in various forms. The mullet is in fashion again now.

Do you stock or sell any particular brands of hair products in your store?

Yeah, we use a brand called Mitch, and another called Fats. Layrite, as well. That pretty much covers it. We sell them as well.

Do you have any specialties in the way you deal with hair?

We have a good eye for what people want, and we give them what they want. That’s the whole trick of the game, giving them exactly what they want so they go home happy.

What goes into the average day here for you?

I’m training two apprentices, looking after the customers, making sure the staff’s okay, making sure everyone gets lunch when they can and the other general day-to-day running of the business. Making sure everything’s working and the customers are looked after.

Have you noticed any particular trends in your clientele?

We do everything from little kids, primary school kids, high school kids, a lot of guys around 25-60, and then a lot of elderly gentlemen as well. It’s a pretty broad age range.

Are you a local? What’s your opinion on the Tamborine Mountain area and community?

I came from Sydney originally, but I live here now. It’s changing here, it used to be more of a working-class town, full of pensioners. There’s a lot more young people here now, more families, lots of people working from home now, which is good for the community. It keeps them in the community. We know everyone, it’s nice and quiet and peaceful. We don’t have all the traffic, the lights and noise of the Coast, but we’re still close enough to go there and come home to the serenity, to listen to the birds and the peace and quiet.

Do you have anything you personally like to do in the area?

I might go to the local Bushrats rugby game now that they’re back and running, or visit the bowling club or St. Bernards. Or hanging out looking after my veggie garden. I like to ride my motorbike when I get a chance.

What do you think Crackers Mens Barbershop really provides to the area?

Just good service, quality men’s barbering at a very reasonable price compared to the coast. We’ve always kept our prices a lot lower. There’s a need for the men to have a place, their own space. The blokes come in, get comfortable, sit around and have a chat, get their hair cut. We don’t take too long to do it, so they don’t have to wait around. We’ve got four chairs working most of the time, so they can come in and head out.

What do you enjoy most about doing this?

I just like interacting and talking to the blokes, having a good chat. You always learn something in this game. The old fellas have told me plenty of jokes and good stories over the years. You learn from their wisdom. It’s invaluable, the stories and teachings I’ve got off them.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your time here?

The shop used to be known as the Middle Pub, if that’s a story. A group of mates used to get together on a Thursday night, share a few beers and a bit of a chat. It became quite legendary. People always want to know where the Middle Pub was, but nobody seemed to know! Plenty of stories and fun times were had back then, plenty of late nights. It no longer exists, sadly. Age catches up with all of us!

Crackers Mens Barbershop