Exclusive: One of Australia’s enduring icons, the Wild Dog Barrier Fence, is being given a new lease of life in the Tambo region, thanks to an innovative agreement between a cluster fencing group and the Department of Agriculture.
After spending a collective $2 million erecting exclusion fences, the South Tambo cluster discovered the fence, revered as the world’s longest, was the weakest link in its plan to protect thousands of hectares of prime sheep producing country from wild dogs.
According to Lindsay Russell, 12 to 18 months after putting the cluster fence up, wild dogs were as bad as ever on their Tambo property, Mount Macquarie.
“We spoke to barrier fence people, who came out and looked at it all,” he said.
“There was eventually the suggestion that we put new fencing up, and a contract was signed with the South Tambo cluster.
“Thirty of the 50 kilometres of barrier fencing on one boundary of the cluster is on us, and we’ll be replacing 10km of fence a year.”
As part of the arrangement, DAF supplies the material and landholders supply the labour.
According to a DAF spokeswoman, each section will progress pending satisfactory completion of the previous section.
”DAF has set the specifications for the work and prioritised the order in which fence sections are to be completed,” she said.
Lindsay said the fencing material supplied was a bit taller than the exclusion fence the cluster had put up, and a bit heavier, at 470kg for a 200m coil.
To cope with the weight, they had to engineer a device for their tractor.
They also strain the fence after they’ve stood it up, contrary to the usual procedure.
“It’s a bit of a trial thing but it’s working well so far, and I think it would work well for others,” Lindsay said.
“I think it’s all positive – it’s a way for them to get the work done, and for us, why do a cluster fence if the barrier fence is the letdown.”
Lindsay and his wife Gill would like to call themselves cattle producers if they could get enough rain, but in the meantime, they run 3000 feral goats infused with Boer genetics on their Tambo property.
Mirroring the refrain of sheep producers around the west, they said they went 10 years without selling a goat, thanks to having zero progeny, before investing in the cluster fence.
The South Tambo Group cluster incorporates 23 properties and 17 landholders, and covers an area of 226,584 ha with a perimeter fence of 330km.
According to DAF, applications for barrier fence renewal from other cluster groups would be considered, if they could demonstrate that the fence was in need of reconstruction and they had the capacity to build the fence to the department’s specifications.
Avoiding the question of where the money for the replacement material was coming from, the DAF spokeswoman said the wild dog barrier fence was funded 50/50 from the Land Protection Fund, which relies on annual contributions from local governments, and the state government.