Monday, June 14, 2010

THE DOG FENCE


It's not far by four-wheel drive from Coober Pedy out to the 'Dog Fence'. Iconic comes to mind and I'm surprised it didn't make it into the Sydney Olympics Opening Ceremony - dingoes and desert on one side, settlers and sheep on the other. I mean, it's nearly as Strayan as Dancing Queens.


Terms like dog fence, dingo fence, vermin fence and rabbit-proof fence get tossed around a lot, and they're not always interchangeable.

A. B. Facey, in his classic A Fortunate Life (I'm reading it again, can't put it down) talks about the rabbit-proof fence in the early 1900s in Western Australia, built to protect the burgeoning wheat belt in the south west from the increasing rabbit plagues to the north east. The rabbit came with the white man, something they did manage to get into that Opening Ceremony in a particularly inspired moment. And there's Doris Pilkington Garimara's (Jigalong) story, "Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence", and Noyce's film adaptation "Rabbit Proof Fence" (with Peter Gabriel soundtrack), to break your heart.

On the other side of the country, the dog fence, dingo fence, runs north east to south west through southern Queensland, the far north west corner of New South Wales, and across South Australia down to the Great Australian Bite.


It evolved over a few decades and across three states to keep the dingo north in cattle country and out of the susceptible sheep grazing farms of the south east and is constantly maintained by boundary riders, fixing damage from time, weather, pigs, roos, emus, and floods.

There's a spot for tourists marked by a shot-out sign, declaring it the longest fence in the world (5,300 Kms) if not the longest man made structure. All it needs is lights and to be seen from space.


You stand there, looking left and right, east and west, as it goes forever.

(Clicking should enlarge pics)


And from the air, the same spot takes on a staggering new perspective as the land formation is seen in context, the service road close to the fence, the road we took next to the two white signs.


The next day we would track the fence from the air, many miles (Kms just don't sound right) later seeing it cross the Birdsville track, where dogs in the know can jump the grid.


You can see the fence from 7 o'clock , crossing a creek bed, then across the Birdsville track, and on up to 2 o'clock.

2 comments:

Muhammad Amir said...
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Muhammad Amir said...

The rabbit came with the white man, something they www.flexpetz.com did manage to get into that Opening Ceremony in a particularly inspired moment. And there's Doris Pilkington Garimara's (Jigalong) story,