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Saturday, September 03, 2005


This is a wonderful little story, and I have followed on with the legend of the Dog on the Tuckerbox. For those not familiar with the 'Aussie vernacular', a Tuckerbox is a food container ...

Rottie On The Tuckerbox!

A LOYAL Rottweiler is re-enacting the legend of the dog on the Tuckerbox - in outback Australia. The dog has stayed on a water tank for six weeks at a highway rest stop, 150km south of Alice Springs. Resident Henni Zwerwer said he appears to have been dumped and is awaiting his owner's return. "He'll accept food from people but he won't actually get in the car," Ms Zwerwer said.

The dog on the Tuckerbox legend was born around the 1850s near Gundagai when bullockies got bogged and the dog would sit guarding the Tuckerbox...

The Dog On The Tuckerbox. It's Story by Lyn Scarff.

Yet, as with 'Waltzing Matilda', its origins lie firmly in the Australian bush and the early pioneers - who in this case forged west and south from the colonial headquarters in Sydney, following the explorers searching for the source of the Murrumbidgee River. Numbers of them took up holdings in the Gundagai district in the period 1830-50.

They were hard and hazardous times with supplies and stores having to be transported along makeshift tracks over rough terrain by bullock teams. To pass the time while often being bogged, or for the river level to fall at crossings such as Muttama Creek near Gundagai, 'bullockies' would recite doggerel and rhymes picked up on their travels - and, sometimes, even write a few lines. Often on such occasions the bullocky's dog would sit guarding its master's tuckerbox and possessions while he was away seeking help.

So was the legend of 'The Dog on the Tuckerbox' born in the 1850s. Whoever the author (using the pen name 'Bowyang Yorke'), the verse was amended some time later and promoted as a poem by Jack Moses. Its popularity quickly spread, capturing the imagination of Australians both in the bush and throughout the colony.

Though the legend was also immortalised by Jack O'Hagan in 1937 in his popular song that put Gundagai on the world map, controversy continued over the exact location of the monument - 5 or 9 miles from the town - and later, on whether to move the famous monument in, or closer to, the town.

Bowyang Yorke's Poem

As I was coming down Conroy's Gap,

I heard a maiden cry;'
There goes Bill the Bullocky,
He's bound for Gundagai.

A better poor old beggar

Never earnt an honest crust,
A better poor old beggar
Never drug a whip through dust.'

His team got bogged at the nine mile creek,
Bill lashed and swore and cried;
'If Nobby don't get me out of this,
I'll tattoo his bloody hide.'

But Nobby strained and broke the yoke,
And poked out the leader's eye;
Then the dog sat on the Tucker Box
Nine miles from Gundagai.


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