Swamped with beer cans

JOLLY beer can collectors from across the country converged on Pimlico at the weekend for their yearly collectors' extravaganza, the 30th Swamparama.

Hosted by collector legends Warwick and Gwen Shinner, who boast a 600sqm shed literally packed to the rafters with collectibles, the Swamparama is the second biggest beer can collectors' event in the nation.

So beloved was this year's final event that a special beer can was created especially for it.

One legendary collector in attendance was Neil Thomas, who has the largest collection of Aussie cans in the world, with 16,000 unique Australian cans.

His Great Aussie Beer Shed in Echuca has even become a minor tourist attraction with a growing profile.

Host Warwick Shinner, whose collection was described by his peers as "mind-boggling", said he had become hooked on the curious pasttime since he started in school.

"Our primary school teacher conned us into collecting stamps and it just went from there," Mr Shinner said.

Beer cans are just a drop in the ocean of his collection, which covers everything from more than 10,000 individual labelled shells, a swathe of military memorabilia and even a fake blossom tree used in a Japanese beer ad he famously bought for $1.

For beer can collectors like Luc Dupagne, president of the Australia Beer Can Collectors Association (BCCA), it's all about the thrill of the chase.

"Once you've got that can you've been hunting, it's like an electric shock through your system. And then you put another on your list," he laughed. After 30 years co-ordinating the private event, officially a combined meeting between the Queensland and NSW branches of the BCCA, the Shinners made the decision to call it a day.



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