When we saw that Gundagai was up ahead, on our travels between Sydney and Melbourne along the Hume Highway, it just wasn’t an option to drive past without a stop in at the “Dog on the Tuckerbox” statue. The statue is at Snake Gully, which is around 8 kilometres (or 5 miles of course) from the township of Gundagai.
The strange thing was, that I was the one who was excited, and in my excitement soon realised that the kids had absolutely no idea “what” the Dog on the Tuckerbox statue was, and why it was of any significance! Perhaps that was a parenting failure on my part, or a sign of the times, I’m not sure, but a quick google search quickly had me streaming song renditions on the car stereo for them to hear the musical brilliance crafted in honour of this true blue Aussie icon.
Jackson set to reading the dog on the tuckerbox poem, to help make some sense of what the fuss was about. I took a closer shot, hopefully you can read this old version of the poem from the photo.
The History of The Dog On The Tuckerbox
The dog on the tuckerbox was unveiled in 1932, as a tribute to Australia’s pioneers and an old poem originally penned under the name ‘Bowyang Yorke’. The poem was later modified and promoted by Jack Moses, seeking much popularity around the country. The story of the poem is based on the life of the bullocky drivers who would sometimes need to leave their bullocks when they got bogged in a creek in the area. They would then seek help, and you guessed it, leave their dog to guard their tuckerbox.
What Is Available At The Dog On The Tuckerbox Centre?
The centre has lovely open spaces to sit down and take in the area, if you have a dog, they are allowed on leash to stretch their legs too. There’s a cafe on site, we grabbed something to eat here, but the options were pretty limited and not really great choices for budget conscious families so had we known there was a bigger service centre just down the road, we probably would have gone there instead, although Matt really enjoyed his hamburger.
It’s definitely worth a stop in, you can throw a coin in and make a wish, I believe the funds go toward supporting the local hospital which is a great cause. The best thing is that you get to say you’ve made a visit to an Aussie Icon, and if you’re children are as clueless about this part of our history as mine were, then it’s a great time to educate them. I have such fond memories of singing the song as a child, so I’m still overjoyed at getting to see the memorial in real life.
Would you dare walk the night with the ghosts of convicts?
There is great weight that is carried by learning the heavy history of Australia’s settlement. The circumstances and conditions that surrounded many of the early convicts were beyond how I think any of us could imagine living today. The sordid conditions inflicted upon these “hardened criminals”, and purely just due to the era in which Port Arthur existed, meant that problems with illness and death were a constant reality. If you take time to breathe, soak in the surrounds, and imagine the hills back in those days, there’s comes an overwhelm of sadness and so much darkness.
So who would be crazy enough to walk the convict site at night, for a ghost tour then I hear you ask? Ummmm, it seems we would!
Does Port Arthur Have Ghosts?
Whether you are a believer in ghosts or not, there is something a little daunting about experiencing Port Arthur at night.
Follow me, you’re standing amongst a site of tumbled ruins. You can see the separate prison where prisoners were punished with a life of silence and isolation until they broke, the asylum where the shells of broken men are cast aside, the woosh of the waters creeping in and out of the bay, the tall, looming trees that stand overhead that were once a forestry prison for “caterpillar gangs” of men carrying heavy logs on their tired shoulders. The gravel crunches beneath your feet, as you join a group of nervous people, cast into shadow by the low light of lanterns, stepping into the unknown. It takes some effort to walk on into the pitch black darkness.
What Happens at the Port Arthur Ghost Tours?
Trying your hardest to be brave, set off into the night with your guide and hear about the sightings, and experiences that have been reported at Port Arthur since the 1800’s. The ghost tour is a wonderful experience that brings to life a different range of stories filled with strange encounters both in the current times, and years long ago. You’ll walk with an experienced guide, and group of fellow daredevils, led by lantern light into a range of buildings, to learn about the history of the people who once lived there, and the ghosts who are said to still inhabit them today.
The ghost tour lasts for an hour and a half and offers an intriguing insight, that will have you jumping at shadows, listening for footsteps that don’t belong and there is no explanation for, and staying as close to the middle of the group as you can, for protection.
There aren’t any special effects used during the tour, so you won’t be spooked by pre-recorded sound effects or mechanical monsters jumping out of shadows, if you’re very lucky however, you’ll get to be a lantern bearer….. If you’re even luckier, you might get to meet, or hear some of the resident ghosts during your time in the darkness…
Is the Port Arthur Ghost Tour Suitable for Children?
For our kids, they are aged 7, almost 9 and almost 11 at the time of doing the tour and they coped with it just fine, even taking the role of lantern bearer very seriously to help light the group.
Byron, being the youngest was a little cautious at first, clinging tightly between myself and Matt during the more scary stories, or buildings, he found his groove though, and they all enjoyed the night. Amahli chose to hang out up the front of the group with our tour guide, her theory being that she could run away the fastest if anything happened. The best part for the kids was learning the extra history and stories of people’s lives in the community. Each building we visited may have been dark and eerie, but it was also full of life and history of it’s past inhabitants.
For those not wanting to take the chance on the night time tour with kids, there is a Kid’s Ghost Tour that runs at Port Arthur during select times of the year, so if you’re little ones are a little sensitive to scares, then it’s a great opportunity for them to take part during the daylight hours. Be sure to check the website for that, and other children’s activities at Port Arthur.
Would we Recommend the Ghost Tour for Families?
A resounding YES! Whether you are a believer in spirits, ghosts, the afterlife or whatever other name you choose to give it, experiencing Port Arthur at night will give you a new appreciation for the lives and experiences of the founding generations of our country. I will leave it up to you to make your own mind up on what you see, feel, hear, smell or sense during your time at Port Arthur, but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you do decide to take the tour.
Have you been scared by ghosts at Port Arthur??? Let us know below….
*Disclaimer: We were guests of Port Arthur, however all experiences and thoughts are our own, shared to give you our honest opinion on our experience.
Forget the cool morning breeze, when there’s a beach to explore nothing can stop us! During our family holiday to Kangaroo Island we hit the shores of Vivonne Bay to see what we could find, and mother nature let us in on some great finds!
Today for Wordless Wednesday I’m sharing a great one with you: a big cuttlefish bone with teeth marks in it!
Can you see the teeth marks?
DO YOU KNOW WHAT ANIMAL OWNS THESE TEETH MARKS?
Each decade of our lives brings with it new perspective, new insight, new ideals.
As each decade passes, and I reflect on the me of years gone by, I realise just how different my perceptions of the world have become. If you’d asked me in the past what Australia Day meant to me, I’d have given a wide range of answers.
Some of those answers would possibly have included:
- A day to celebrate our history.
- A day to spend with friends and family.
- A public holiday off work.
- Being proud to be Aussie.
I’m guessing that for most people, Australia Day does mean something like one of the above, or very similar. But I’ve also come to know in recent years, that for some people, Australia Day has become a stark reminder that their lands were invaded and their culture stripped away slowly and painfully. Their culture is still clinging to a fragile existence in a country that doesn’t seem to care.
When I was Growing Up….
I was raised by a hard working “Aussie” Tradie, and the values he spouted over my childhood are pretty far removed from the values I hold as an adult. I grew up in the 80’s, a time of work hard for little, spread your money around as best you could, and raise your family in the Aussie, beer drinking, BBQ cooking kind of way. Where “Greenies” were ruining people’s jobs, and unless you were “white” you weren’t really all that important, and god forbid you questioned your own sexuality, that sort of foolery was intolerable!
In all fairness, my dad has either mellowed or become so tired of me ranting about equality and the environment he’s chosen to agree with me for the sake of peace! He’s a good man, but I’m so glad that our generation seems to question what we are “fed” rather than just go along mindlessly.
When I Discovered Australia’s Secret Shame!
Yep, you read it right, Australia hides secrets, ones that need to be blown into the limelight! Until my mid 20’s I’d never really left the safe surrounds of the coast, tourism areas or main country towns. I was blissfully unaware of what I didn’t know, and then a few years ago we set off on a camping trip from Darwin to Adelaide. So excited to see things like Kakadu and Uluru, we were looking forward to discovering the “real Australia”.
What we found was not only that there are places in this country more beautiful than you can ever imagine, but sadly that there are people in this country that are forgotten about, used for political leverage, and left to live in squalor in shameful slums that most of the country don’t even know exist.
We discovered that Indigenous Australians are suffering. They are being tucked away, their needs dragged out and spoken about only when a political party needs to gain a vote, or the government wants some of the land they occupy to grant mining leases and rake in cash. There are real people, real families, real stories and there is real sadness spread across the heart of our country. There is a real culture that is dying, much of which has been lost forever and this will continue to happen unfortunately unless change is made quickly. The reality is, so few of us realise just how bad it truly is.
Why Australia Day is Important.
- Australia Day is truly important, because EACH AND EVERY PERSON IN AUSTRALIA IS IMPORTANT.
- Australia Day needs to be a day to celebrate our growth as a country.
- It needs to be a day to celebrate progression toward equality on all levels.
- It needs to be a day that cultures blend and share, merge and combine for good.
- It needs to be a day that we hold our government accountable to be sure they are truly leading our country in a way we can all be proud of.
- It is a day where history must be acknowledged and a path to move forward TOGETHER is celebrated.
The truth is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it. I didn’t know, but I want you to just consider for a moment, the pain at having everything you have known ripped away from you, ripped away from your family just a couple of generations ago.
I want you to understand that raw emotion and raw pain, causes a huge amount of sensitivity around this issue. I want you to be brave to learn about the possibilities of acknowledging our past as a country and then standing together to move forward.
I am really very, very passionate about indigenous issues, and it saddens me that sometimes Australia Day brings about debate, name calling and sometimes even violence. I truly believe that we can find solutions, that the more people who understand just how “hidden” the realities of Indigenous issues in Australia really are, the more people who learn to discover for themselves, beyond what the media or the government report, but to really learn, embrace and understand.
It is then we have a chance to make a change, so that ALL Australians can be proud, so that we can all walk together as one, and so that indigenous poverty in remote Australia is put to an end!
I hope you all had a great Australia Day, it’s a wonderful day and we should all be proud of our wonderful country, just as we should be using our voices to ensure our country only gets better, stronger and becomes the safe haven for all those who live here!