The State Barrier Fence

In 1859 rabbits were introduced to Australia by keen shooters who imported 24 from England and released them onto a Victorian property.
Doing what rabbits do so well, they quickly multiplied and spread.
The spiralling population soon began to impact severely on farmers, eating their crops and pastures.

By 1894 they had advanced across the Nullabor Plain.
By 1901 the threat became so serious that it was decided to erect a barrier fence to stop them invading the agricultural lands of Western Australia.

Six years later the world's longest fence had been constructed, with the "No 1 Fence" being 1'139 miles (1'822 km) in length.
Two adjoining fences (No 2 and No 3) were commissioned in 1904 and 1906 as rabbits continued to make their way west, and in all a total of 2'023 miles (3'237 km) of fence were constructed.

More than 400 men were employed in fence building - a difficult task at the turn of the century, when transport and materials were crude.
The fence was made of 4 plain wires and wire netting, dipped in a tar mix to prevent rusting under the ground.
Fence posts were generally cut from trees adjacent to the fence line, gates were installed every 20 miles (32 km).

Under the management of the Department of Agriculture's Chief Inspector of Rabbits, fence maintenance was carried out by boundary riders who travelled the fence line using bicycles, camel buggies and horse drays.
For some 30 years the fence minimised the movement of rabbits into agricultural areas.

With the decline in rabbit numbers in the late 1950s, due to the impact of poisoning and myxomatosis, the fence was modified and realigned to protect agricultural production from migrating emus.

Today the remaining fence (a composite of portions of No's 1, 2 & 3) is known as the State Barrier Fence.
It stretches 1'170 kilometres from north of Kalbarri, around the perimeter of the agricultural districts south to the coast near Hopetoun.

It also serves as a baiting corridor for wild dogs and prevents the entry of feral goats.

In the event of an exotic disease outbreak it would be a useful barrier to the movement of feral or domestic animals.




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Last updated: Thursday, 20.03.2008 12:36 PM