Gold Mining and Agriculture made Gundagai both prosperous and a centre for bushranging, which is immortalised through poems and songs such as Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox, and Along the Road to Gundagai that has gave the town a romantic bush appeal. Gundagai is perhaps most famous for its monument to the early pioneers, the iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox, situated on the Hume Highway, 5 miles (8 kms) north of Gundagai.
Gundagai is a charming, historic medium-sized country town set at the foot of Mount Parnassus above the Murrumbidgee floodplains.
First discovered by European explorers in the 1820s, Gundagai has a proud history, and more than any other Australian town, Gundagai has proved an irresistible subject for poets and songwriters. Even the likes of Banjo Patterson were inspired by stories of drovers, bullock teams and bush travellers in the Gundagai area.
Today Gundagai is a timeless town with heritage charm that can be explored. Wander past some of the town’s oldest buildings don’t miss the old flour mill in Sheridan Lane, Marble Masterpiece at the Visitors Centre, Gundagai Heritage Railway or the Prince Alfred Bridge, Australia’s longest timber viaduct, built in 1866. This enabled a safe crossing of the mighty Murrumbidgee and a link between Sydney and Melbourne.
Sifting through a treasure trove of memorabilia at Gundagai Historic Museum,, you’ll find the two gorgets (medallions) presented to Yarri and Jacky, Wiradjuri men whose efforts saved many lives during Gundagai’s great flood in 1852.
Visit the heritage locations to learn why the town is so irresistible to artists, songwriters and bards.
Lovers of the great outdoors can take one of several walking trails to admire the view from the lookout atop
Mount Parnassus with excellent vantage points to photograph the Murrumbidgee valley. Be challenged by the
18 hole golf course or relax with a rod hoping to land trout or Murray cod.
Gundagai was a distant outpost in south west NSW at the time gold was discovered.
Certainly the Great Southern Road to Melbourne ran through it – but this was no more than a rough bush track patrolled by brigands.
Any real travel between the two centres was done by the coastal shipping lanes. Gold however was the catalyst that started to change all that. With Adelong located to the south and the fields of Temora and Junee to the north, Gundagai was always closely associated with these fields development.
Foremost in Gundagai’s gold story however will always be its association with the Great Southern Road between Sydney and Melbourne and the challenge of keeping this road safe from the predations of bushrangers.
As the 1850s and 60s unfolded, the battle to provide safe passage through inland NSW placed Gundagai at the centre stage of events.
First there was the issue of getting the gold safely out of the Ovens field just over the border and safely back up to Sydney. Then came the dramatic development of the Adelong field that ensured gold shipments up the highway continued to flow strongly through Gundagai into the 1860s.
One of the local bushranging tales surrounds the exploits of Andrew George Scott – better known as Captain Moonlite.
Unlike other bushrangers, Scott was from a wealthy, educated family. With a shady background as a trickster and robber, he assembled a gang of five in Victoria, then moved north to Wagga Wagga, and on to Wantabadgery where they held up Wantabadgery Station.
A seige led to the death of two gang members and police Constable Webb-Bowen was shot dead. Moonlite was held in the Gundagai Gaol before facing trial in the local Courthouse. Scott was finally tried and hanged in Sydney in 1880, and buried in Rookwood cemetery in an unmarked grave.
Moonlite’s final wish was to be buried near his two friends in the Gundagai cemetery. In 1995, some 115 years later, two local women sought to bring Captain Moonlite back to Gundagai and today he is buried near his friends in the North Gundagai Cemetery, under the shade of a eucalypt.
Police officers Senior Constable Webb and Sargent Parry both are buried in North Gundagai cemetery.