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The Dingo Fence – Australia’s Quirky Version of The Great Wall

There is much to delight within the expansive and at times never ending shores of my native Australia. Tourists and travelers will come and go. Darting here and there to try and see and experience as much as they can of the grand island continent.

Most will only seek what I describe as the so called ‘A List’ destinations (and with good cause I might add). With little time or energy to pursue the harder to reach sites. Only setting eyes on a minuscule portion of what the sun burned country has to offer.

Dingo Fence

As always, I’d like to bring to your attention a somewhat odd and little known snippet of information on a topic that very few tourists would have heard of, let alone laid eyes on. Many may find this topic interesting whilst others will shrug their shoulders. And yes it’s in no way a tourist attraction, but the awe inspiring landscapes that are within its path can not be denied.

The Dingo Is A Form of Wild Dog

To any unsuspecting tourist (or local for that matter) the crossing of the live stock grid on the nations highway number one would pass by with a quick hammering of the ear drums and then a glance into the rear view mirror to see what you just drove over. Before turning your attention back to the never ending trail of black bitumen that seems to vanish in front of you. In preparation for that next road train to come barreling your way.

But that wasn’t just any old cattle grid. That was the point where Australia’s fabled Dingo fence has one of its few small openings, as it makes its way from Jimbour on the Darling Downs of Southern Queensland. All the way through some of Australia’s most arid and harshest landscapes. Until it finally concludes at the wind swept cliff face of the Great Australian Bight, near Yatala on the dusty and arid Nullabour plain. A total journey of some 5,600 kilometers (3,480 miles).

Australia's Dingo Fence

You see, it’s not just for the Chinese that have built great dividing walls to separate waring factions (there are also another few walls of a slightly more political persuasion that have been constructed of which I won’t go into here). In Australia, we too have also constructed a Great Wall, and as usual. As with most things Australian, our wall is somewhat unique.

The Dingo Fence or Dog Fence (a Dingo is a form of wild dog native to Australia, brought to the worlds attention by the long drawn out court proceedings of the death of Azaria Chamberlain) as it is sometimes referred to. Is a pest exclusion fence that was originally built over a 5 year period in the late 1800’s. The fence is primarily used to keep Dingoes from entering the fertile grazing lands of south eastern Australia and the southern Queensland region.

Has The Fence Been Successful and At What Impact?

The fence has been partly successfully over the years and the sighting of dingoes beyond the line in the southern states is somewhat rare. The fence is still maintained via its different states and councils to this day, at an approximate cost of 10 million dollars per year. With even some parts of the fence illuminated at night via solar panels feeding high output lights.

The Dingo fence construction details vary along its length but generally it stands about 180cm in height (approx 5ft 9in) and also extends below ground approx 30cm or 1 foot. The dominating material used on the fence is mile upon mile of wire mesh. That is clad to the uprights or posts of both metal and timber that are spaced every 9 meters. There is also an exclusion zone of about 5 meters on either side that is cleared of vegetation and is generally used as a 4WD track for service and maintenance.

Although the Dingo fence has not been without its opponents over the decades. With many citing that it has artificially affected the kangaroo and emu numbers inside the fence line due to the lack of their main predator, the Dingo. Then on top of there is also debate on the actual native classification of the Dingo. Many believe that the Dingo is not a not native to Australia but was introduced some 4000 years ago from South East Asia. Therefore it is an introduced pest like the rabbit, camel, buffalo and feral pig. Just to name a few.

I Recently Visited A Remote Section Of The Dingo Fence

Generally, I am always intrigued by the building of such bizarre and quirky engineering feats and have always been enticed by construction of the Dingo Fence. I once saw a documentary on the fence and have always remembered the image of where the fence collides with the southern ocean on the Nullabour.

During our recent crossing of Australia. Liza and I hunted down that exact section of the Dingo Fence. To our amazement, after a couple of hours of rugged off road driving through a very isolated part of Australia within the Wahgunyah Conservation Area. We finally found the end of the fence where it runs all the way to the cliff face (and over it) of the Great Australian Bight. Below is a short video of our very rough ride of discovery to find the end of the fence.

Although I ave only witnessed a very short span of the fence I can only imagine the many long weeks and months the early colonials put into its construction. This is a harsh and unforgiving environment through which it passes. Yes it’s no Panama Canal, but it’s also something very unique to Australia. So I hope you enjoyed the read.

Your Thoughts and comments?

What are your thoughts and comments on the Dingo fence? Maybe you’ve crossed it without even knowing. I also feel that  it’s quite unique, but maybe you’ve seen something similar elsewhere  in the world?

A Little More About The Author

Jason has traveled the world extensively during the last 20 years, with overland journeys on six continents and across over 90 countries. This site serves as a chronicle of the images and tales from these journeys, as well as offering advice and general information for other like minded travelers.

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11 Great Comments So Far (Have Your Say)

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  1. Otto Siviero says:

    Hi Jason,
    I trust you are well.
    As a keen cyclist I was thinking of riding the fence line with a mate or two and a support Van as part of my bucket list ! Would it suit a mountain bike ? How soft is the track ? What would the steepest gradients be ? Topping up supplies ( water ) etc along the track ? Would the best month be August ? Any other thoughts and tips would be taken on board with respect and thanks.

    Best regards


    Weekend Warrior

  2. Hi Jason, A very impressive track your travels. A big thank you also learn a lot Auatralia and other continents and distant peoples and their lives. Greetings from Europe, Serbia, Banat, Deliblato sand-Slavica!

    Translated By GOOGLE:

    • Jason says:

      Hey Slavica, It’s something that I enjoy doing. I have translated you comment with Google and my own interpretation the best I can. You look to be promoting your lodge through the comments so this is something I do not wish to do. Thank You.

  3. Rosemary says:

    This is interesting, i was in Australia for 2 years and never came across this one. I saw the Rabbit Proof Fence in Western Australia. Maybe in a few years they will invent the Cane Toad Fence. What could stop cane toads?

    • Jason says:

      Hey Rosemary, Yeah I suppose the Dinbgo fence is one of those thing’s where if you didn’t know it existed, you probably wouldn’t even see it. Like the rabbit proof fence you saw. In a small section, it’s just like any ordinary fence line. It’s the entirety of the whole construction that amazes me.

      You may be on to something there with the cane toads. Another great environmental decision made by our forefathers! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Dean says:

    It is certainly an impressive thing when you realise how big Australia really is and how much of it the fence covers. I guess I will pass by it when I make it to the Nullabour. I don’t think I will see your section in my old van though ;)

    • Jason says:

      Hey Dean, After making a quick crossing of the country. I can certainly attest to the fact that it’s a very large country. The end of the fence is only accessible by 4WD and I wouldn’t go near it in the wet.

  5. Maria says:

    What’s the old adage? Necessity is the mother of invention. A fence, kept simple in construction has kept the dingos out of the grazing zone for all these years. Interesting.

    • Jason says:

      Hey Maria, The fence certainly is quite simple in construction (at least for the small section I saw) but there’s no doubt it does work in some way.

      I have never seen a dingo in the wild in the eastern states but came across a few in a small timeframe in Western Australia.

  6. I am likewise intrigued by the rabbit-proof fence in W.A. It’s so interesting to think we could ward off living things with a fence across hundreds of miles.

    • Jason says:

      Hey Inga, Yes I was wondering if someone would bring up the Rabbit Proof Fence, also found in Australia. I believe the rabbit proof fence was given a bit of a profile a few years back with the film title of the same name.

      The rabbit proof fence, as you point out is only found in Western Australia and is also fragmented into different routes across the state. Although is quite similar in it’s nature to the Dingo Fence. Thanks for bringing this up.

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