Hittin' the road - Episode 15: Liverpool

This gory piece of history is probably more myth than fact, but we thought the chimney was nonetheless a cool structure

We started our SWSi road trip at Miller College where we delved into the mostly male-dominated world of building and construction. Our next stop was Liverpool College, where we learned the ins and outs of the mostly female-dominated world of hair and beauty. Call it variety. Call it balance. Call it a cut and finish with optional blow wave.

At the time of our visit, a Cert IV Hairdressing class was in full swing and the head teacher, Yvonne Ivanac, introduced us to a class and let us ask the students a couple of questions.

Not surprisingly, the class was mostly female. Just one bloke made up the class (although two other blokes were enrolled but absent on the day of our visit). This young man proudly told us he'd enrolled because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his uncle who was a barber.

Yvonne told us about the different learning styles that they often encounter at Liverpool College. Often students who have been labelled as having "learning difficulties" actually thrived in the practical, hands-on learning environment that TAFE is known for.

The students often practice on each other, but they also use the creepy dummy heads specially made for hairdressing students. I couldn't help noticing this box of them, which looked like props from a weird arthousey horror flick. They're made with real human hair, with about 100,000 individual hairs per head, although these ones are going for the "bald is beautiful" look. "Synthetic ‘hair' is also available, but it isn't as effective to work with because it just doesn't behave like real human hair," Yvonne said.

Liverpool TAFE hair students learning the vital skill of blowdrying #hair #TAFESWSI #TAFEROADTRIP

A photo posted by TAFENSW (@tafensw) on Jul 28, 2015 at 6:01pm PDT

We were also shown the manicure and pedicure classrooms, each containing state-of-the-art equipment. Unfortunately there were no classes happening at the time. I'd been hoping for a pedicure class that was in need of real feet to work on. I'd have happily volunteered my own paddles for a bit of attention.

Overall, Liverpool College has a charming, relaxed, old-world feel to it – a great environment for learning. This is partly because of the original Victorian buildings, many of which were designed by convict architect Francis Greenway and which are now heritage-listed. These buildings looked peaceful and innocent in the sparkling winter sunshine, but they have a pretty grim history. The site was originally a 19th century asylum and home for destitute men. Between 1850 and 1961, up to 900 men lived (and died) here, and mostly in not very pleasant conditions. Local myth has it that this chimney was where they burned the bodies. This gory piece of history is probably more myth than fact, but we thought the chimney was nonetheless a cool structure and deserved a photo before we left.