In search of the real rabbit proof fence
On the trail of one of Western Australia’s disappearing historic icons.
It is a path less travelled, yet intrinsic to our national story. The rabbit-proof fence is one of the great construction achievements of our history, and there are rewards aplenty in seeking out its remains in the orange-dusted heart of Western Australia.
The rabbit-proof fence is best known for the 2002 film of the same name. Based on a book by Doris Pilkington Garimara, it followed the epic journey of three Aboriginal girls along the fence from confinement near Perth back to their home in the north of the state.
A true story, those girls in fact followed all three fences that were built more than 100 years ago in a futile attempt to hold back the rabbit plague sweeping across the Nullarbor from the east.
Rabbit-proof fence No. 1 was completed in 1905 and stretched 1834 kilometres from the south coast at Bedford Harbour near Esperance to Eighty Mile Beach on the north coast. It was claimed at the time to be the longest fence in the world.
Completed in 1907, the 1165-kilometre rabbit-proof fence No. 2 was constructed further west, running from Point Ann on the south coast and parallel to No. 1, until turning north-east near Yalgoo to eventually intersect with No. 1 west of Wiluna. The shortest fence, No. 3, ran east-west from an intersection with No. 2 near Yalgoo 257 kilometres to the coast at Kalbarri.