From the dog on the tuckerbox we continued on to our campground. The bush camp sits on the edge of Gundagai and is set beside the river. There was only one other van taking advantage of the site when we arrived. After we parked up we took a walk back into town to have a look around.
The town is filled with some lovely old buildings and brags of having the oldest bakery in Australia. Gundagai even had the last mounted postie with the last delivery of letter by horse in 1985.
Gundagai also calls Thomas Wills as one of her sons, as he was born in the Gundagai area. Thomas is credited with co inventing Australian Rules Football and was the coach and captain to the first Australian Aboriginal Cricket team. (The Cricket team toured England in 1868 with Johnny Mullagh who played 45 matches and scored 1698 runs and took 245 wickets.)
It was a nice walk into town to get our bearings and to find out where the tourist information office was. It would be out first stop the next day.
On our way into town we passed the famous Prince Alfred Bridge so on our way back we stopped for a look. The main reason the bridge was built was so the main road from Sydney to Melbourne would not be cut off when another flood accorded.
It way on an information board that we learned we had walked through the new part of town. The original town of Gundagai was built on the Murrumbidgee River Flats. The township had sprung up in 1838 and was flooded in 1844 and again in 1851 by about a metre of water. A year later a flood 4 to 5 meters deep crossed the flats. At the time it was Australia’s worst natural disaster with 78 people recorded as losing their lives. An even larger flood followed in 1853 sealing the fate of the original town site.
The first bridge that crosses the river flats was completed in 1867. Prince Alfred (second son of Queen Victoria) visited the area when he visited Australia in 1867-68. It was the first visit to Australia from a member of the royal family. Several hospitals, school, parks and of course the bridge were named in his honour after his grand tour was over. It was the least we could do as while he was in Australia, Prince Alfred was shot with a double-barrelled pistol at close range in the back.
The Price Alfred Bridge was quite unique for the times. The total length of the bridge is 921 meters. The top chord is continuous and rests on roller bearing, (I don’t know what that means but it was in the information board so it must be important.) The cast iron drums that make up the piers (which are 2m high x 2m diameter) were the first large iron castings made in Australia. The bridge is also an early example of spectacular latticework wooden trusses, reflecting on early engineering.
Price Alfred Bridge is closed to traffic now as time has not been kind to it. The railway bridge built near by in 1903 is in much the same shape. It was a pity as it would have been nice to be able to walk along it.
The next morning we made out way back to the tourist information centre. It had some of the other poems written about the dog on the tucker box on display. It is intriguing how one simple event could raise so much interest.
I was surprised with what I found at the information centre. It really did make me take a step back in time. You see as a child we used to listen to the radio a lot. I live in the country and as it was a long time ago we didn’t have electricity until I was eight (or there about) and we didn’t have a TV until much later (that wasn’t really a problem being that there was no TV stations for the TV to pick up signals from anyway.) So it was the good old wireless (radio to you young ones) that entertained us at night. One of our favourite programs was Dad and Dave. The series was said to be based on a typical Australian family, reflecting on their hopes and their dreams, successes and blunders in the great Australian outback. The radio drama was based on the stories of Steele Rudd and was streamed around the world. The first episode touched the airways in 1937 (and you can still listen too it by the magic of the internet.) In later years a film was made based on the series.
Dad and Dave who lived in Snake Gully seemed to get themselves into one scrap after another. Now that I look back on it, the serial was a little like Forest Gump. Neither Dad or Dave seemed overly smart but they both had a heart as big as Australia and in the end it always seemed to work out, wellll…….. sort off. There was a lot of Dad and Dave jokes at the time. One my father loved, as he was a farmer was “Dave ‘What would you do if you won the lottery Dad?’
Dad ‘Probably just keep farming until it was all gone.’”
Or there is the one
“Genie, ‘Dave what will be your first wish?’
Dave, ‘I want to be rich.’
Genie, ‘Granted. Now what will your second wish be?’
Dave, ‘I want a lot of money.’”
(I told you it was a little like Forest Gump.)
The link to Gundagai was in the theme song. I can’t remember all of it but do remember the start, “There is a track winding back to an old fashioned shack on the road to Gundagai.” I think there was something in the song about Snake Gully as well.
The tourist information had a display of the old fashioned shack and outside of the tourist information centre was a statue of the four main characters. Dad and Dave along with Mum and Mabel, (Dave’s girlfriend.)
Oh those memories!!