The Rabbit-Proof Fence

The Rabbit-Proof Fence has in recent years become synonymous with the ‘Stolen Generation’ through the 2002 film of the same name which explored the subject of Aboriginal children being forcibly removed from their parents by racist colonial government policy. 

Rabbit Proof Fence 1920

However originally rabbit- proof fences were introduced into Western Australia to deal with the problem of over-population of rabbits destroying crops and degrading pasture land. Rabbits were first introduced into Australia by the First Fleet when they arrived in Botany Bay in 1788.

By 1896 it had been found as far west as Eucla and 200 kilometres further west at Twilight Cove, near Esperance. The fence represents a unique, if inadequate, response to an overwhelming environmental problem

Two men and a car near Rabbit Proof Fence 1940

Construction of the Number 1 Rabbit Proof Fence began in 1901. It stretched 1834 kilometres from the south coast to the northwest coast, along a line north of Burracoppon, 230 kilometres east of Perth. Unfortunately by 1902 rabbits had already been found west of the fence line. The Number 2 Rabbit Proof Fence was built in 1905 in order to stem their advance. Stretching 1166 kilometres from Point Ann on the south coast through Cunderdin, 150 kilometres east of Perth, the new fence joined the original fence line at Gum Creek in the Murchison area.

Watson's Well a noted landmark on the Rabbit Proof Fence in 1932

If, however, you were searching on this page for information related to the  2002 Australian drama film, Rabbit Proof Fence directed and produced by Phillip Noyce based on the 1996 book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara - you have come to the right place.

The National Films and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has some interesting links to talks about the film including an interview with Deborah Mailman on Deadly Sounds. Another interesting link is a video featuring Shirley Lomas, a descendant of the Gamilaroai and Waka Waka Aboriginal nations talking to the produce of Rabbit-Proof Fence about her experience as a Stolen Generation survivor.

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Last updated on 6 October 2021