Dog Fence

Michael Balharry

The Dog Fence stretches through the remote, isolated country of the Australian outback. It divides the cattle grazing districts on the northern side from sheep grazing districts on the southern side. The dog fence assails rough, inhospitable terrane, and pervades rare views of the South Australian landscape including the Great Australian Bight and Lake Frome. It borders the grazing properties into New South Wales where it takes in the Paroo River, then it goes north and east across Queensland to the Darling Downs. The Dog Fence is maintained today, to keep the dingo, Australia’s wild native dog, from killing grazing animals, mainly sheep.

The first merino sheep flocks were bought to Australia in the 1800’s. When grazing began in the northern plains of South Australia about 1860, the first 30 years were relatively free of dingoes. However dingo populations multiplied and evidence suggests that they began to thrive on the newly imported European rabbits that were running in feral plagues, at the same time.

By the early 1900’s, dingo attacks made it impossible to successfully establish a sheep industry. Sheep graziers began building fences around their properties to protect their flocks from the predatory dingo. As time went on, neighbouring properties grouped together to become enclosed within vermin proof fences. Rapidly expanding fenced properties joined up to become what were termed, vermin proof districts. At the peak of these vermin districts, there was over 30,000 miles of these fences. They became very costly to maintain.

In 1946, a single-line dog fence was established in South Australia to align with the most northern boundaries of the properties contained within the vermin proof districts. It now extends from the Great Australian Bight, near Fowlers Bay, eastward across South Australia, and through New South Wales, to finish at the Bunya Mountains of Queensland, near the pacific coast. It is the longest continuous fence in the world, at 5400km long, with 2178km being in South Australia. It is 2.5 times the length of the Great Wall of China, which works out to approximately 1609km longer.

The Dog Fence Board is the governing body set up to administer and manage the Dog Fence and ensure that is regularly patrolled and maintained. The Dog Fence Act 1946, levied a rate on grazing properties located inside the fence, to fund wages for maintenance and patrol workers. Since 1947 the fence within South Australia has been continuously maintained, re-aligned and upgraded. New fencing technology has been incorporated, so that dog-proof grids at road crossings and solar-powered electrified sections have been introduced.

Dog Fence information on the PIRSA website

Page Last Reviewed: 20 Nov 2017
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