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Red Dog the “Pilbara Wanderer”, is one of the best known and loved travellers in the North West, being the subject of numerous books, songs and even a movie. Many Pilbara locals still recall his visits and laugh at the memories of his strange and wonderful ways. Red Dog was a Kelpie / Cattle dog cross that was well known for his travels through Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Red Dog is believed to have been born in the town of Paraburdoo in 1971 and had a variety of names to those who knew him including: Bluey, Tally Ho, and Dog of the Northwest. Tally Ho was his first name, given to him by a man called Col Cummings, who is believed to have been his first owner and the one who brought him to Dampier. The nickname “Red Dog” has been attributed to the red dirt of the Pilbara Region. His second owner was John Stazzonelli, a bus/truck driver employed by Hamersley Iron, whose work allowed Red to travel as far as Perth, Broome, Roebourne, Point Samson and Port Hedland. Following Stazzonelli’s death in 1975, Red spent a lot of time travelling on his own. He was also taken in by many members of the community and a local veterinarian who treated Red when he found himself ill or wounded.

Red was made a member of the Dampier Salts Sport and Social Club and the Transport Workers’ Union. He was also given a bank account with the Bank of New South Wales, which is said to have used him as a mascot and sales tool with the slogan “If Red banks at the Wales, then you can too“. Although he had many friends, it is believed that his death in 1979 was caused by deliberate strychnine poisoning (baiting). Red is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere between Dampier and Karratha. There is a statue in his memory in Dampier, which is one of the towns to which he often returned.

Soon after Red’s death, Australian author Nancy Gillespie wrote and compiled anecdotes and poetry written by several people of the Pilbara region for her 1983 book ‘Red Dog’ as did Beverly Duckett in her 1993 book ‘Red Dog: the Pilbara Wanderer’. Red Dog’s story and statue have caught the attention of a number of people passing through Dampier including British author Louis de Bernières, who was inspired to write a book loosely based on Red’s legend also called ‘Red Dog’. The book has now become a critically acclaimed feature film about Red, made in Australia and released in cinemas 4 August 2011.

A range of Red Dog merchandise is available from the Karratha Visitor Centre, including the above mentioned books, official motion picture DVD, official motion picture soundtrack, t-shirts, magnets, hats, key rings and our new Red Dog plush toy!

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