The Red Dog of Pilbara

Apr 24, 2023 0 comments

Throughout the 1970s, an Australian Kelpie nicknamed Red Dog was frequently found roaming across the vast Pilbara region in Western Australia. The dog travelled thousands of kilometers by walking or hitching a lift in cars, buses, trucks and trains, visiting towns and cities such as Karratha, Dampier, Roebourne, Point Sampson, Port Hedland, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Broome and even Perth. Red Dog was well-loved and during his travels he was fed and taken care of various people he met on the way.

A memorial to the Red Dog in Dampier. Photo: Richard Giles/Flickr

Red Dog was believed to have been born in the town of Paraburdoo in 1971. His first owner was Colin Cummings, who brought him to Dampier and named him Tally Ho. His second owner was John Stazzonelli, a bus driver with Hamersley Iron, who took the dog with him in his bus, and soon Tally Ho became a fixture at the Dampier Salt Co and at Hamersley Iron, travelling on the company buses. Tally Ho was a chocolate color, which earned him the name ‘Red Dog’. It’s also said that his most well-known name came about from being covered in the famous fine red dirt of the Pilbara when he travelled along the highways.

In 1975, Stazzonelli died and Red Dog spent a lot of time travelling on his own. He was also accompanied by various community members who took him on trips to distant locations such as Perth, Broome, Roebourne, Point Samson, and Port Hedland. Red Dog became a member of the Dampier Salts Sport and Social Club and the Transport Workers' Union, and was also granted a bank account with the Bank of New South Wales, which utilized him as a mascot with the slogan "If Red banks at the Wales, then you can too."

Photo: Cultural Pilgrims/Flickr

Despite his popularity, Red Dog is believed to have been intentionally poisoned with strychnine in 1979. He was laid to rest in an unmarked grave somewhere in Roebourne, Western Australia. A statue commemorating Red Dog has since been erected in Dampier, one of his frequent haunts.


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