I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published May 5th 2012
The Dog on the Tucker Box is a New South Wales icon. It has sat beside the Hume Highway, eight kilometres (five miles) from Gundagai in Snake Gully, since 1932. Recently, this tribute to Australia's pioneer history has become so popular that a Dog on the Tucker Box Festival has been held each year since 1992. One of the notable events of the Festival is the Snake Gully Cup Racing Carnival.
The significance and notoriety of the statue stems from Jack Moses' famous poem Nine Miles from Gundagai, with its variants of the refrain 'And the dog sits on the tucker box/Nine Miles from Gundagai'. It was the popularity of this poem and the attention it brought to the town of Gundagai that inspired the erection of the statue for Gundagai's centenary celebrations.
However the history of The Dog on the Tucker Box actually goes back much further than Moses to a crude rhyme from Australia's pioneer era, which details incidents along the track to Gundagai. Among them is a reference to a dog who spoils the foodstuffs in the tucker box he sits on, while he waits for his master Nobby Jack. From this doggerel came the 'original' Tucker Box poem from over 90 years ago, which pieced together the stanzas about Nobby Jack and his dog and end with the lines 'Then the dog sat on the tucker box/Five miles from Gundagai'.
While both the original and Moses' poems cite different locations for the legend, the statue ended up five miles from Gundagai because this site put it closer to the town and next to the Hume Highway, making it more accessible for visitors. And the site has been designed to be very visitor friendly. For example, anyone wanting to visit the statue is able to pull off the Hume Highway into a special Dog on the Tucker Box area. Here you will find a a café, picnic area and souvenir shop (proceeds from some of the souvenirs, along with the site's wishing well, go towards Gundagai Hospital). There is also a KFC, BP and Subway very close by.
True to the town's intentions, today the statue has become an important tourist attraction for Gundagai. In fact its draw has been so great that there have been discussions (including a 1976 referendum) on whether to move the statue into the town in order to better benefit from the tourist dollar. But the statue has so far proved to be too sentimental to be moved (short of one Canberra College of Advanced Education scavenger hunt prank).
Wow - this really brings back the memories - our dad used to take us here for sandwich lunches en route to other points north and south when we were on our big Aussie road trips. Thanks for the memories!