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Nooka retires from the Bourke children’s service

Barry ‘Nooka’ Harris has been driving school buses for nearly 20 years, including for 14 years at the Bourke & District Children’s Services. Photo Noel Fisher

Friday afternoon will be the end of an era in Bourke. After fourteen years Barry ‘Nooka’ Harris will retire as the fulltime bus driver for Bourke and District Children’s Services.

Nooka loves the kids, and the kids love him. He attributes this to him being a big kid and “that I don’t want to grow up,” he laughs. How did Barry become Nooka?

“When I was born, my father started calling me Chattanooga, after the train in America.

“When I started school, it was eventually shortened to Nooka, and I’ve been that ever since,” he said

Born in Bourke hospital, Nooka has spent his life in the Bourke district.

“Yes, the doctor smacked my bum right here in the Bourke hospital, the last bloke that ever hit me,” he quips with the grin of a larrikin.

A 25-year veteran of the wool sheds, he has been a shearer, wool classer, presser and roustabout.

“The only job I didn’t do was cook, they wouldn’t let me do that,” he said.

Director of Bourke and District Children’s Services, Emma Stephens, said that Nooka will be a massive loss to the service.

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