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Friday, November 21, 2008

Dingo Fence

The Dingo Fence or Dog Fence is a pest-exclusion fence that was built in Australia during the 1880s and finished in 1885, to keep dingoes out of the relatively fertile south-east part of the continent (where they had largely been exterminated) and protect the sheep flocks of southern Queensland. It is one of the longest structures on the planet, and the world's longest fence. It would eventually stretch 5,320 km (3,306 mi) from Jimbour on the Darling Downs near Dalby through thousands of miles of arid country to the Eyre peninsula on the Great Australian Bight. It was only partly successful; Dingoes can still be found in parts of the southern states to this day, and although the fence helped reduce losses of sheep to predators, this was counterbalanced by increased pasture competition from rabbits and kangaroos.


The 2,500 km (1,553 mi) section of the fence in Queensland is also known as the Barrier Fence or Wild Dog Barrier Fence. It is administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Water. The Wild Dog Barrier Fence staff has 23 employees, with two person teams which patrol a 300 km (186 mi) section of the fence once every week. There are depots at Quilpie and Roma.

It joins the Border Fence in New South Wales, where it stretches for 584 km (363 mi) along Latitude 29. The fence passes the point where the three states of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia meet (Cameron's corner), where there is a brass plate on the survey monument. It is known as the Dog Fence in South Australia, which is 2,225 km (1,383 mi) long.

Physical design

The fence is 180 cm (5.9 ft) high made of wire mesh, and extends for 30 cm (1.0 ft) underground. The fence line on both sides is cleared to a 5 m (5.5 yd) width. Star pickets are spaced every 9 m (9.8 yd). At first it was unsuccessfully used to try and keep out rabbits, with the fence built originally as a rabbit proof fence in 1884. It was more successful at keeping out pigs, kangaroos, emus and brumbies. In 1914 it was converted into a dog-proof fence.

Parts of the Dingo Fence are lit at night by 86 mm (3.4 in) cold cathode fluorescent lamps which are alternately red and white. They are powered by long life batteries which are charged by photovoltaic cells during the day.

The fence is held together by Gripples.

Environmental impact

It seems that there are fewer kangaroos and emus on the north western side of the fence where the dingoes are, suggesting that the dingoes' presence has an impact on the populations of those. It has also been suggested that the larger kangaroo populations inside the fence have been caused by the lack of dingo predation, and competition for food leads to lower sheep stocking rates than would be possible without the fence.

Journalist James Woodford travelled along the fence and wrote an account of his trip called "The Dog Fence."

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