On the road to Gundagai

Our next stop was only about 160k by road away or about 90 kms as the crow flies so it was going to be a nice easy drive. We took a break at Snake Gully, which was only 7.2 kilometres from Gundagai. Why stop when we were so close? Because of the dog on the tuckerbox of course!!

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The legend about the dog on the tuckerbox started wayback in 1850. The story goes that Bill, who drove a bullock team, was having a bad day. He had become hopelessly bogged 5 miles from Gundagai. Nothing he did could get his team out of the bog. In the attempts one of his bullocks broke the wagon’s yoke. In dejection Bill decided to take a break and have some lunch. To add salt to he wound Bill found his dog sitting on his tuckerbox. The other bullock drivers thought it a great joke and soon after one of them it is said, wrote a poem about it. It wasn’t long before the poem moved into folklore as it was seen as a symbol of the persevering spirit of the pioneers when faced with the hardship of the Australian way of life. Over time there has been many versions of the poem. Jack Moses wrote one of the most famous in 1920. Soon after, the board of Gundagai Hospital came up with the idea of erecting a statue to commemorate the spirit of the pioneers and to raise funds for the hospital. The monument was unveiled in 1932 where the story began (5 miles from Gundagai.) As the dog siting on the tuckerbox is surrounded by water and people love to throw coins into the water, the hospital still receives funds from the statue to this day.

There is a rest stop at the site now and you can get the best Tucker Box Burger in the area or so the signs said. Dogs haven’t been forgotten either. They have their special room.

There is a lot more to the site that just a truck stop. We walked around and had a look at the ruins of an inn that was built on the site. “The Limestone Inn” opened its doors in 1858. For the time it was a large establishment consisting of twelve rooms with a detached kitchen, storeroom, cellar as well as stables. The Inn sat on the main road between Sydney and Melbourne but it also became a favourite for the local as the Inn boasted a fine piano player.   The Inn changed it name to “The Australian Arms” after the bushranger “Jack-in-the-boots” robbed it along with all the customers and staff in 1861. The name was changed four years later to “The Squatter’s Arm’s” before closing in 1876. I did try to find our more about Jack to discover why he received the name “Jack-in-the-boots” but found very little information on him. Gundagai Police captured Jack in 1862. There was a plot to rescue him while he was being transferred from Gundagai to Yass gaol but it was discovered. Apart from robbing the Inn this is pretty much it.

The dog on the Tucker box isn’t the only item at Snake Gully to see. You can also get a great big hug from the big Koala. Adrian wasn’t overly keen to start with; something about it being just for children but he soon came round when I bribed him. So cute.

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