Region salutes a legend

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Red Dog Festival organiser Lorraine Best and Red Dod author Nancy Gillespie.
Camera IconRed Dog Festival organiser Lorraine Best and Red Dod author Nancy Gillespie. Credit: Shannon Beattie/Shannon Beattie

He was a Pilbara icon in life, became a legend after his death and 40 years later, he is still bringing the community together.

The first ever Red Dog Festival was held on Saturday, September 7, with people across Dampier and Karratha congregating to celebrate and acknowledge the Pilbara’s best-known celebrity.

The festivities started in the morning with a Wandering With Red Dog Walk, where every man and his dog headed to Lions Park for a free event, which included vet checks, dog washes and the chance to meet author Nancy Gillespie.

Later in the afternoon, Hampton Oval came alive with a Mangy Mutt show, twilight markets, never-before-seen Red Dog memorabilia and a screening of the 2011 film.

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The festival was put on by Lorraine Best from Dampier Transit Caravan Park who said it was all about celebrating what Red Dog did for Dampier.

“How many dogs do you know that inspired people to write books, poetry, music, plays and a movie?,” she said.

“He’s a pretty incredible dog and a legend all around Australia.”

Vet Rick Fenny knew Red Dog for four or five years of his life, but has had a lot to do with him in the 40 years since his death. “He was so meaningful during his life because he embodied the spirit of the community in the 1970s,” he said.

“I think that’s why the original Red Dog movie struck a nerve with so many people, because it picked up the vibe of the era and what the dog meant to the people.”

It may have been 40 years since he died, but Red Dog’s legacy lives on in the Pilbara and around the country. Local organisations, including the Dampier Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service and the soon-to-be-opened North West Brewing Co. use him as their emblem and people Australia wide go out of their way to visit Dampier and meet Red Dog.

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