Rabbit proof fence

From the mid 1800s European rabbits were ravaging domestic gardens in and around Adelaide, South Australia. Colonists continued to breed them however, without realizing the devastating consequences. The rabbit’s adaptability to Australian conditions enabled them to increase in numbers so rabidly, that within 50 years they had spread as far as the New South Wales border and the west coast of Western Australia. Rabbits colonised the natural environment, displacing native animal species, ravenously devouring native plants and crops in their wake, leaving a wasteland of bare earth, vulnerable to erosion (1971 Newland).

Control of the spread of rabbits has been an arduous and ongoing process that governments and communities still struggle with today. In the 1880s, the NSW, SA boundary was netted for a distance of 300 miles, to prevent rabbits spreading to NSW from SA. At about the same time a 100 mile section of the SA, Queensland border was netted from below Oontoo to Haddon Corner and up to 30 miles short of Poeppel Corner. These attempts at netting failed mostly due to administrative wrangling, the remoteness of the land and the scarcity and inadequacy of building materials of the day (1969 Rolls).

A Report of the Vermin Proof Fencing Commission of 1893, documented the government enquiry into the question of vermin fencing in South Australia. Vermin-proof Fencing Commission 1893 (PDF 4.2 MB)

Historical Government records of 1893 contain a hand written copy of a report by George W. Goyder, the Surveyor General, with detailed drawings for the rabbit and dog proof fence on the Victorian border: Historical rabbit and dog proof fence: 1893 (PDF 1.0 MB)

Rolls, Eric. 1969. They All Ran Wild, Angus and Robertson, London. Sydney. Melbourne.

Newland, N.P. 1971. Vermin Control in South Australia. Department of Lands South Australia.

Page Last Reviewed: 20 Nov 2017
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