Dad & Dave, Australia’s longest running radio drama/comedy serialisation and its answer to BBC Radio Four’s, The Archers, ran from 1937 to 1953 with the same actors throughout and remains a much loved part of Australia’s cultural history.
Yes indeed, many readers will raise an eyebrow at the sight of the words Australia and culture being used in the same sentence while the more learned, and indeed more cultured, will immediately think of Barry Humphries’ Sir Les Patterson, Australian Cultural Attache to the Court of St James, to cite just one of his many titles.
I digress, Dad and Dave was based on characters created by Steele Rudd (aka Arthur Hoey Davis) in his ‘On Our Selection’ tales of life down on the farm in Snake Gully. Though the radio program undoubtedly brought fame to Davis he took issue with his struggling but admirable family being portrayed as comic yokels, and consequentially, had nothing to do with the radio program.
In real life ‘Mum”, Nell Stirling, (incidentally married in real life to ‘Dad’) was a colourful character, once described as looking ‘like a barmaid who had won the Irish sweepstakes’ for turning up for an audition for another part in 1934 ‘wearing glossy black satin’ and ‘diamonds at ten o’clock in the morning’ and ‘a great deal of mascara and lipstick’. She, a striking redhead with long legs had earlier been a chorus line dancer. Perhaps this explained the attire.
Dad & Dave’s initial link with Gundagai is the fact that Jack O’Hagan’s song, ‘Along the Road to Gundagai’, became the theme song for the radio serial.
As the serial quickly achieved enormous popularity, based in part on the success of the 1932 film version of ‘On Our Selection’, the fact that the ‘real’ Snake Gully was in Queensland didn’t deter the enterprising, then owners, of the Dog on the Tuckerbox, cashing in on the Gundagai connection, by telling visitors that Snake Gully was one in the same as Five Mile Creek, Gundagai. Accordingly, File Mile Creek became associated with the Snake Gully of the serial and its characters. In 1979 sculptor, Aurel Ragus, was commissioned to create sculptures of the four main characters (Dad & Dave, Mum & Mabel) from the serial and erect them at Five Mile Creek as evidence to the ‘fact’ that this is where the Dad & Dave serial was based.
Ragus’ sculptures, of beaten copper over steel frames, very much evoke the character of the type of people they represent and became a major attraction in their own right.
Dave was the typical Australian country lad who enjoyed the odd drink or two while Dad was the type of man you might meet at a typical stock sale in the bush. Mum and Mabel typified the country woman of a past generation who could run both the kitchen and indeed the farm without the assistance of their men-folk.
While the sculpture was originally erected at Five Mile Creek it was moved, in 2005, to it present location outside the Visitor information Centre in Gundagai.
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