The dingo fence

The dingo fence is over 5600 km long. Until 1980, the fence was much longer at 8,600 km, but was then shortened to its current length. It stretches from the south coast on The Nullarbor Plain near Nundroo on the shores of The Great Australian Bight in South Australia to Jimbour in the Darling Downs near Dalby in central Queensland. It is nearly twice as long as The Great Wall of China and is the longest fence in the world.

The fence encloses the south-eastern part of South Australia, the southern part of Queensland and all of New South Wales and Victoria. It is by no means a simple straight line across the country. It seems to wander all over the landscape although photographs show that some long lengths are fairly straight.

The fence was built in the 1880s to keep dingoes out of the eastern part of the country where sheep were being raised, particularly in Queensland. Those dingoes on the eastern side of the fence had already been largely exterminated. The fence was only partly successful as some dingoes managed to beak through the fence and some are still found in the eastern states.

The sections of the fence in different states have different names that have been applied by the administrators in those states. For instance, there is The Queensland Border Fence and Great Barrier Fence in Queensland, The South Australian Border Fence and The Dog Fence in South Australia. These sections vary in length. Most are patrolled and repaired regularly, often weekly.

Most of the fence is 180cm high wire mesh, but some parts in South Australia are made up of multi-strand electric fencing. Each side of the fence is cleared of brush out to around 5m.

Particularly important parts of the fence are floodlit at night, using alternately red and white lights powered by stored electricity generated by solar cells in the daytime. Where the fence crosses minor road a series of gates allows passage and where it crosses major roads and highways, special cattle grids allow high speed crossings.

The cost of maintaining the fence has caused authorities to consider completely exterminating the dingoes as a better proposition. Where dingoes have already been exterminated there is more trouble with foxes and the environment has been influenced badly. Without dingoes to control their population, some of these areas have become overrun with kangaroos, rabbits and emus, causing problems for graziers. Whether the dingo is a native or introduced species is still very controversial, as is the issue of extermination.

The number of feral camels is also a problem as they keep smashing down section of the fence. There is talk of extending the electric fence part to counteract this problem.