Tag Archives: Gundagai

The Dog on the Tucker Box

The Drunk and Jobless World Tour™ has readers from across the planet, and one thing my fans are always asking me is whether it’s worth flying to Australia just to see the famous Dog on the Tucker Box at Gundagai. I wrote about this legendary roadside attraction a year ago but, in the interest of providing the most in-depth travel blog around, I decided to head back to that spot nine miles from Gundagai… or five miles, as it turns out.
After visiting the Big Banana, the Big Whale and two Big Pineapples across two continents, the Dog on the Tucker Box didn’t impress me with its size. It is, after all, the size of a regular dog, and I see them all over the place. The Dog gets a pass, however, because he was knocked together back in 1932, around three decades before some bright sparks started building gigantic roadside attractions up and down Australia.

You know a Gundagai’s full of life when a dog sitting on a lunchbox is most interesting thing to happen in the last century

The Dog was erected (oi, stop sniggering!) as a tribute to drovers across New South Wales, and inspired by a 19th century poem called Bullocky Bill, which featured the memorably odd lines, ‘And the dog sat on the tucker-box/Five miles from Gundagai’. For my foreign readers, a tucker-box is something you’d keep your lunch in, so it would be understandably upsetting if some rabies-addled canine sat (and supposedly shat) on your sandwiches.

Without television, video games or internet porn, a statue of a dog was pretty much the most interesting thing around back then, and drew admirers from Albury to Armidale. It was so popular that it inspired a further poem called Nine Miles From Gundagai, which ripped off Bullocky Bill in a way that would make any rap singer proud. In this version, however, the dog carked it: ‘The dog ah well he took a bait and reckoned he would die/I buried him in that tucker-box nine miles from Gundagai’. I feel sorry for the bloke who reached into the tucker-box expecting a Vegemite sambo and ended up with a fistful of rotting cattledog.

Big koala, bigger love!

The statue is just off the Hume Highway these days, and is a decent place to stop between Sydney and Melbourne. There’s a pie shop (the owners looked like they’d been slapped when I got out of my car and they discovered I’m not a fatso anymore and so don’t live on pastries), a KFC, and some sort of health food shop where they sell really expensive food that you could just as easily pick from a tree. The truly monumental Kip the Koala looms large about 500 metres down the road, and should satiate anyone’s need for something big (and if not, give me a call, ladies!).
So, should you travel to Australia just to see the Dog on the Tucker Box? No fucking way, but if you’re out here for the beaches, the bizarre animals, the lovely people and the lack of infectious diseases, you might as well stop by as you’re driving around. But if you see a tucker-box lying around, don’t reach into it. They do weird things with them in Gundagai.

My parents were delighted to visit the Dog on the Tucker Box back in 1973. My dad still wears those trousers!

WHERE: Gundagai, around four hours south-west of Sydney

WHAT’S THERE? A statue of a dog. A big statue of a koala. Some wagon wheels. Fat people eating KFC.

IF YOU’RE THIRSTY: There’s nowhere to grab booze at the Dog-stop (boooooh!) but there are a couple of good, traditional pubs in Gundagai (yay!)

AND IF YOU’RE HUNGRY: The shop behind the Dog has awesome pies and sausage rolls

WHAT ARE THE WOMENFOLK LIKE? The ladies in the pie shop are lovely. Give ’em a wink and they might chuck in a sachet of tommo sauce for free

FUN FACT: Gundagai is the only town in the world that rhymes with ‘thunder thighs’

Advertisements

The Blue, Blue Skies of Corryong

20170103_130856

As the first golden sunbeams of 2017 hit me, I knew something was wrong. My pillow was the unforgiving concrete of the gutter outside the pub, and my pants were awash with a mixture of urine and vomit of unknown origin. I clutched my throbbing head and felt no hair there, and had painful flashbacks to a New Years Eve spent partying with a gang of violent skinheads who had initiated me into their deranged cult.

20170105_130545
New year, new look. I call it ‘jihadist-chic’

My mate Scotty pulled his car into the street just as I was stumbling to my feet and asked me if I wanted to go paragliding. I realised I had to get my shit together, and the only way to do that was by heading to the tiny Victorian village of Corryong and throwing myself off a giant hill with nothing but a glorified plastic bag to save me. Five minutes later we were heading for the border, leaving the skinheads far behind us.

scotty272_n
Scotty – he’s a great bloke, but he doesn’t like having his photo taken

A few hours later we were about nine miles from Gundagai, and I was reminded of the shithouse Aussie poem of the same name. It’s about a dog who takes a crap on some bloke’s lunch and then he eats it (the lunch, that is, not the dog), and surely only attained popularity due to a severe lack of entertainment options during the 1800s. The statue of the infamous dog on the tucker box is absolutely rubbish. In a country full of giant roadside bananas and gargantuan pineapples, a lifesize dog statue fails to impress. I’ve seen actual dogs, and they move around and lick their balls and everything, so a crappy statue was never going to get my blood pumping.

20170102_145300
If you wanna impress me, try a Dagwood Dog on the Tucker Box

To make things worse for the dopey dog, it’s completely overshadowed by a massive koala that’s only 100 metres down the road. This big fella – who is apparently known as Kip – took my broken heart and rebuilt it with love, welcoming me into his colossal arms. I truly felt at peace whilst being cradled by that mammoth marsupial. Of course, Scott became jealous of my blossoming relationship with Kip and stormed off to sit in the car until I was ready to leave several hours later.

20170102_152353
I’ve never felt so safe

After a teary farewell, I reluctantly climbed back into the car and we continued on our way. I thought Kip would text me, but he didn’t, and it was with tears in my eyes that we stopped at the site of the Southern Cloud air crash. Eight people died in 1931 when an Avro 618 Ten was blown wildly off-course and smashed into the Snowy Mountains, disappearing without a trace. The wreckage wasn’t discovered until 1958, when some bloke accidentally stepped on what was left of the plane’s wing.

20170102_172530
The wreck is out there somewhere…

As a darkly humorous aside, a fella named Stan Baker was booked on the fateful flight, but cancelled at the last minute, and consequently developed a lifelong fear of flying. Twenty years later, he finally plucked up the courage to step aboard a plane – which crashed shortly after take-off, killing him and everyone else onboard. I hoped that all this airborne tragedy wasn’t an omen for my own flying.

20170102_173154
That’s where the Egyptians live

An hour later we were cruising into the buzzing metropolis of Khancoban, just outside of Corryong, population 281. Nestled by the shore of a glistening lake in the Snowy Mountains, Khanco is a delightful village from a simpler time. It’s quiet and rustic, and perfectly located for hiking, skiing and other fun activities. Sure, there’s probably a slight history of incest in the region, and some of the local sheep were walking funny, but it really is a very nice place.

corryong2_3975957810221462797_n
These nice people allowed me to hang out with them for five days!

We stayed at Khanco Lakeside Caravan Park, which is by the side of the lake. What a coincidence! With almost a dozen pilots and family-of-pilots there, we had the run of the place. Dinner was at the Khancoban Hotel, which is a true step back in time and where a schnitzel is considered exotic effnic food. There were a few good sorts behind the bar and I was raring up for an all-night bender when the place shut down around nine, and I was forced into an early night back at the cabin. But that’s alright, because the next day promised some epic paragliding – and it delivered.

dsc09614