To most people, if they hear the name Gundagai they immediately think of The Dog on the Tuckerbox. But as we recently discovered there is a whole lot more to this charming NSW town and we found lots of things to do in Gundagai.
Gundagai is located just off the Hume Highway in southern NSW. It is 170 kilometres from Canberra or just 80 kilometres from Wagga Wagga. Sitting on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Gundagai is a quiet rural town now that the Hume Highway no longer runs through it.
OLD GUNDAGAI GAOL TOUR
When we arrived in Gundagai we didn’t even know that there was an old gaol there until we called into the Visitor Information Centre. Tours of the gaol are all self-guided and cost $10.00 per person. Once we had paid we collected our audio headsets and a key and headed round to the gaol. We were the only people in there so I thought it was a little bit eerie.
Built in 1859, the gaol’s most infamous inmate was bushranger Captain Moonlite. The audio tour gives you a fascinating look into the life of Captain Moonlite and also other inhabitants of the gaol. The gaol was used as a Police lock-up until the 1970’s and the two-story residence behind the gaol was lastly used as a Police residence.
The gaol is definitely worth a visit if you are interested in our Colonial history. Just down the hill from the gaol is the Gundagai Courthouse. It is a very grand building for a small town and well worth checking out.
At the local cemetery, you will find Captain Moonlite’s grave. He was born Andrew George Scott and was wealthy and educated. He was hanged for murder in 1880 and buried in an unmarked grave in Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery.
His dying wish was to be buried at Gundagai and in 1995 two local women arranged for this to occur. You will find his grave at the rear of the cemetery underneath a large gum tree.
THE GREAT RESCUE OF 1852
The Great Flood of 1852 almost completely wiped out the small township of Gundagai. 69 people drowned in this flood. During the night and for several days after, two Wiradjuri men – Yarri and Jacky rescued stranded townsfolk. Using only a bark canoe, these two men became local heroes.
A bronze monument to these two men was unveiled in the main street in 2017 and is a wonderful piece of artwork.
There are a lot of places to see in Gundagai that have great historical significance. One of these is The Old Mill, which dates back to around 1849 and was the first flour mill in Gundagai. It was the only major building left in the flood area after the 1852 flood and still stands today. Later, in the 1900’s it was converted to a freezing works and later became a wool and hide shop.
Gundagai also has two historic bridges. The Prince Alfred Bridge is an early timber span bridge which was closed to traffic in 1984. Although it is in a bad state of disrepair it is interesting to walk underneath it and marvel at how it was built. There is also an old railway bridge which was built in 1903 and connected Gundagai to Tumut and Batlow.
Now we do like a good meat pie every now and again so we couldn’t resist getting lunch from the Gundagai Bakery. It is apparently the oldest working bakery in Australia, opening in 1864. It is actually owned by the local community and leased to the current operators. And they make a pretty darn good pie too, so worth making it your lunchtime stop.
DOG ON THE TUCKERBOX
The Dog on the Tuckerbox is a monument that was created by Frank Rusconi in 1932. It is a tribute to our early pioneers and settlers. The story of the Dog on the Tuckerbox originated from a poem by ‘Bowyang Yorke’ the last two lines of which are
And the dog sat on the tucker box
Five miles from Gundagai.Bowyang Yorke
The story was subsequently immortalised in song by Jack O’Hagan.
WHERE TO STAY
We chose to stay at Coolac Cabins and Camping at Coolac, which is just a short 20 minute drive north of Gundagai. Located on a working cattle property, Coolac Cabins and Camping is a beautiful and peaceful small park.
There are 12 powered sites, plenty of grassy areas for tents and three lovely cabins plus a brand new glamping tent. Pets are welcome or if you don’t have pets of your own, you can make friends with the farm dogs who come and go as they please.
Additionally, there is a large camp kitchen, a cosy games room and clean and modern unisex bathrooms.
There is also an awesome fire pit and as the weather was still cool when we were there we took full advantage of the wood supply and enjoyed happy hour there with the other park guests.
Hosts Louise and Myles are very friendly and welcoming and will ensure your stay is an enjoyable one.
We are sure you will find lots of things to do in Gundagai and will definitely enjoy spending time in this part of NSW.