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Ray tells history of the Outback through his bottles

Ray Harris with some of the bottles he is bringing to Bourke at Easter. Photo supplied

They may look ordinary enough, but old bottles hold the secrets of the everyday life of the people who lived – and drank – in the Outback.

Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett and many other towns across the west are rich pickings for bottle collectors, like former Bourke resident Ray Harris.

Ray has been collecting old bottles since his teens and has a vast knowledge of where they were made, the cordial factories that used them, and the families behind those long gone businesses.

Bourke’s Rice family is about the only remaining independent cordial manufacturer still operating Ray said, but once upon a time, the Rice’s cordial factory was one of almost a dozen operating in the region.

These included McDougall & Simmons at Brewarrina, Mitchell’s of Walgett, Burgess Cordials of Cobar, Orbell’s Cordials of Dubbo, Parkes and Bourke, and older operators like Peter’s Cordials and Glover’s Aerated Waters, both of Bourke. There was even a cordial factory at Yantabulla many years ago.

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