Around the world in 188 days travel blog

March 15

Marianne: Our last night on the road was Sunday, and everything closed early. We were reduced to celebrating our last supper of the trip with a rice and vegetable odds-and-ends supper. So we were looking forward to reaching Canberra with its free apartment and ample eateries. Listening to the radio, we heard a song featuring 2 men arguing about which was better, Melbourne or Sydney. The song ended with both of them agreeing that thank God they did not live in Canberra! Uh oh.

Steve: But we did get a nice surprise the next day, as we left Kosciuszko National Park: a flock of four emus grazing in a field not far from the road. They looked like giant feathery dust mops with long necks and long legs!

Marianne: On the way, we stopped at one last must-see attraction. Well, actually two, both in the town of Gundagai. The first was "The Rusconi Marble Masterpiece," a miniature marble fantasy cathedral, done by a local stone mason over the course of 20 years. It was behind a closed door in the local tourist office, and cost $4 to see. Steve refused to bite, but I was curious as to what this small town had cooked up in the way of a tourist attraction.

Along with a number of Aussie wonder-seeking tourists, I was ushered into a small room, inside of which stood the glass enclosed Masterpiece. As soon as we were all in a recording of the song "On the Road to Gundagai," (another claim to fame for this small town – for a version of this song, click here) came on, followed by a stern voice announcing "this is Rusconi's Marble Masterpiece!" It was followed by an explanation, during which some of the admirers circled this thing, taking movies. I found the whole production more interesting than the actual Masterpiece. We've posted a short video snippet of the experience -- to see it, click here.

But the best was yet to come. Just outside of town, was another must-see, the much-touted statue of "The Dog on the Tuckerbox." Since this one was free, we both were interested in finding out what was up. It was heralded by billboard and souvenir/café. There was even bus parking, and as we arrived, 2 buses pulled in. Once again, people had whipped out their camcorders to film every angle of this attraction. The statue itself consisted of a life-sized dog sitting on top of a lunch (tucker) box, all on a pedestal. Very small, unimposing, kid of like the Mannekin Piss in Brussels. And indeed, in the background, a recording of a man singing the song that inspired this creation was continuously being played. It was a song detailing how a drover left his dog guarding his tuckerbox, and on his return discovered to his annoyance that the dog had "sat" on (in) his tuckerbox. At least that's the official version of the story. Steve: For an old-time version of this "bowdlerized" version of the song, click here. And you can see a video Marianne shot of the "sensaround" experience at the "Dog on the Tuckerbox Tourist Centre" by clicking here. Marianne: Now put "h" in "sat," and you have the real story behind the song (click here). Only in Australia!

Steve: And it shouldn't be neglected that the name of the drover in question was "Bill the Bullocky." This entire legend, centering around a dog and its poop, inspired a monument, festival, tourist center: Australia is an interesting place!

For some photos related to this entry, click here.

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