A Dog sitting on a Tuckerbox

On a road trip from Melbourne to Sydney in the Christmas holidays of 1957 we passed by this monument 5 miles from the town of Gundagai which is on the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales.

The Dog on the Tuckerbox five miles from Gundgai

The Dog on the Tuckerbox five miles from Gundgai

Originally set up in 1932 as a money raiser for the Gundagai hospital and as a memorial to the European pioneers who settled the district, it shows a typical working dog sitting on his master’s tuckerbox, a box for storing food supplies. This faithful dog would guard the  tuckerbox until his master returned, no matter how long it took. The idea was based on a song about Bullocky Bill which had been around since the 1850s and ended with.

     And the dog sat on the tuckerbox nine miles from Gundagai.

Then in 1922 Jack O’Hagan came out with the song The Road to Gundagai which doesn’t actually mention a distance..  Since the original song about Bullocky Bill there have been many incarnations of the story in song, and with different distances,so there was plenty of motivation for Gundagai to build its own dog on a tuckerbox.

But as well as its original intention to be a tribute to Gundagai the monument  has acquired an aura all of its own  It can be regarded as  a national icon and  just like that loyal dog it represents all people  who stand and wait for for the return of those who are away from home, whether it be peacetime or wartime.

1932 tuckerbox dogThere were no railings around the monument in the early days as this photo from the Gundagai Shire Council shows us.

But now there is a nearby Food Court with KFC, Subway, McCafe, BP service station and Tuckerbox restaurant.  How  tacky  !!!!!

So to deviate a little, what did a tourist do in Sydney in 1957,  a Sydney which was yet to get its landmark Opera House ?  To begin with there is the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   Here is our tan Chevrolet – Chevie – Chev at the base of the Bridge, the same bridge where Paul Hogan used to work as a painter before other interests took over.

The tan coloured chevie at the base of the Syndey Harbour Bridge

The tan coloured chevie at the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

  • At that time it was illegal to climb the Bridge but there was a cattery of beautiful white cats to be patted at the top of the bridge pylon. as in the slide show below.
  • From the top of the pylon you could watch the liner Oronsay passing underneath.
  • And there was time to sit on part of the prow of the original HMAS Sydney, built into a wall under the Bridge.  It was launched in 1911 and de-commissioned in 1928.  It saw service in World War I.
  • There were friends to enjoy time with on Bondi Beach
  • And a surf carnival to visit at North Steyne
  • Finally a peep in the gates of Kirribilli House, the residence of the Prime Minister when visiting Sydney

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, would you like to do some listening ?  Here is Peter Dawson  (1882 – 1961), Australia’s own bass baritone  singing  Along the Road to Gundagai in 1931.

Or if you prefer a more  country music rendition  then  listen to Slim Dusty  singing the chorus from   The Road to Gundagai.

T

You might even be brave and listen to both.

Words and Lyrics by Jack O’Hagan, 1922 – Along the Road to Gundagai

There’s a scene that lingers in my memory –
Of an old bush home and friends I long to see –
That’s why I am yearning
Just to be returning
Along the road to Gundagai –

There’s a track winding back
To an old-fashioned shack
Along the road to Gundagai –
Where the blue gums are growing
And the Murrumbidgee’s flowing
Beneath that sunny sky –
Where my daddy and mother
Are waiting for me
And the pals of my childhood
Once more I will see.
Then no more will I roam,
When I’m heading right for home
Along the road to Gundagai.

When I get back there I’ll be a kid again –
Oh! I’ll never have a thought of grief or pain –
Once more I’ll be playing
Where the gums are swaying
Along the road to Gundagai –

This post has been a contribution to Sepia Saturday for it’s theme of Monuments..  There are many other monuments to visit from other contributors by following the links on Sepia Saturday.

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27 thoughts on “A Dog sitting on a Tuckerbox

  1. Wendy

    What an enjoyable post! The story of the dog on the tuckerbox is just so sweet. Thanks for linking the music. I’ll have to give the nod to Slim Dusty.

    I’ve never been to Australia, but I can’t imagine the Sydney skyline without the Opera House.

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  2. Lorraine

    Well done, B. You’ve covered our icons very nicely. I’ve visited the dog on his tuckerbox several times but don’t have a photo because it was in the days before I had a camera.
    Remember the Aussie film ‘Red Dog’? It’s about dog loyalty as well, based on a true story, and he has a statue at Derby or somewhere in the north-west.

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  3. La Nightingail

    The statue of the dog sitting on a tuckerbox and the lovely story that goes along with it reminds me of the movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” where a dog becomes attached to a professor & waits for him every day to get off the train coming home from work. It’s a wonderful story with Richard Gere who (face it ladies) is not that hard to look at! If you haven’t seen it, you really should.

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  4. luvviealex

    Happy memories of singing that song in the back of a car on the way to……Coonabarrabran…or Canberra……or the Blue Mountains….. or Sydney! Didn’t get to Gundagai very often. Maybe once or twice in living memory.

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    1. boundforoz Post author

      Your list of destinations reminded me of a TV ad a couple of years ago where this chap was driving his car with a couple of children and he was singing a ditty with a lovely long list of toungue-twisting Australian town names. Normally I just ignore the ads but this one stopped me in my tracks every time. I just adored it. I don’t know what they were advertising but the ad was great and now it’s just eating me up because I can”t remember that beautiful list of towns !!

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  5. Bob Scotney

    The Dog on the Tuckerbox story reminded me of Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburg. I shall include his story under ‘S’ in next months A-Z Challenge.
    It’s years since I heard Per Dawson.

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    1. boundforoz Post author

      This is another dog I had to learn about so I look forward to your ‘S’ story. Am I going to be disillusioned by the ‘real’ story ? Glad to know that someone else remembers Peter Dawson.

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    1. boundforoz Post author

      The pylon had a tearoom, souvenir shop and an exhibition of Australian achievements. the manager also had a family of white cats on the roof of the Pylon Lookout, (14 steps up a ladder from the Parapet Level). Here they had their own merry-go-round, roamed the roof garden and ‘guarded’ a Wishing Wel, and were a great tourist attraction.

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  6. Mike Brubaker

    A very enjoyable post. Dogs deserve a statue or two, since cats are usually already posing as a statue. I was struck by the difference in English diction between the two singers though both are Australian. Dawson was a new name to me but seems to have been quite an important recording artist.

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    1. boundforoz Post author

      Peter Dawson is of the pre-war school of BBC style diction used in radio, on stage, public speaking etc. Many children were sent for elocution lessons to keep their speech with bounds. But country singers have always had a style of their own. And since World War II our general speech has mellowed with all the overseas influences and the relaxing of standards by our national broadcaster. I still love listening to Peter Dawson sing. The Road to Mandalay was another song he was well known for singing.

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    1. lazycoffees Post author

      I hadn’t realized but there are dog stories and dog statues all over the world from Tokyo to South Africa, from Cantral Park to Battersea, and Dampier in West Australia as well as our Gundagai dog.

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  7. genepenn

    Nice to see ‘the dog’ featured in a post. We still occasionally stop there on our trips up and down the Hume, and also overnight at Gundagai. Thanks for the memories of the visit to Sydney.

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  8. Sharon

    I just had to listen to Slim Dusty. I grew up with Slim Dusty playing in the background and remember going with my parents to see him and Joy McKean in the 1970s.

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  9. jofeath

    We stopped for coffee in Gundagai just this morning on our way home from Canberra to Melbourne, but these days we go into the town itself, rather than just stopping out on the highway at the statue, which we’ve seen many times before and which as you say is in very tacky surroundings these days. Gundagai however has lots of character and old buildings and is well worth a visit. If you ever get the chance, make a point of going into the tourist information centre, where they have an amazing ‘marble masterpiece’ sculpted by Frank Rusconi, who was a local resident and sculptor of the Dog. For more details and a photo, see http://www.visitgundagai.com.au/2013/marble-masterpiece/

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