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At the foot of Mt Parnassus, 387km south-west of Sydney, lies the charming historic town of Gundagai. It was initially settled by graziers in the 1820s that had come to the fertile land following the expedition of explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell along the Murrumbidgee in the early 1800s.
By the 1850s several large land grants had been taken alongside the river despite warnings from the local Aboriginal people that these plains were prone to flooding. The most devastating flood would occur in 1852, claiming 89 lives and washing away a number of properties, with another flood the following year prompting settlers to move to land in the surrounding hillside.
The discovery of gold in 1859 would bring a large influx of settlers to the area and with the construction of a church and school house was instrumental in establishing a township for the rural community. Goldfields in the surrounding districts would continue to prove economically viable up to the 20th Century bringing important wealth to the town. Gundagai's prosperity made the area particularly notorious for bushranging activity and the grave of infamous New South Wales bushranger Captain Moonlite can be found in Gundagai cemetery.
The fertile land surrounding the town would support many successful farming ventures over time through periods of drought and several more devastating floods. Agricultural industry, including grain crops and livestock farms, still provides the majority of Gundagai's economy today.
With a rich colonial history of squatters, bushrangers and a gold rush, Gundagai was often used as the setting for folk songs and bush poetry. The poem 'Nine Miles from Gundagai' where the refrain refers to the dog on the tuckerbox is thought to refer to the legend of the dogs of the area’s first settlers - the ‘Bullockies' - who would reportedly guard their owners tuckerboxes whilst they were away. The Dog on the Tuckerbox monument which is located on the Hume Highway just outside town remembers the areas first settlers and their dogs. Gundagai would once again prove a popular bush muse in 1922 when Jack O'Hagan would pen the ballad 'The Road to Gundagai' - a song that would become one of Australia's best known colonial folk songs. The annual Tuckerbox Festival is held over three days each November.