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Construction of the Esperance Extension of the State Barrier Fence commenced on 23rd of May 2019.

This momentous occasion was launched by the Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Ports; the Honourable Alannah MacTiernan driving in the first fence post. Work on the first 8.5 kilometres has commenced with the Esperance Tjaltjraak Aboriginal Rangers being upskilled in fencing by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Staff. 

Construction of the Esperance Extension of the State Barrier Fence could only be possible with the financial support of the following: 

  • State Government - $6.9 million
  • Shire of Esperance - $1.5 million in kind toward grid construction
  • Shire of Ravensthorpe - $280,000 cash
  • Australian Government - $1.95 million
  • Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. has provided $205,000 in fencing machinery via a free three year lease to DPIRD.

The entire 660 kilometres of the fence is expected to take around 2.5 years to complete.

Background

The State Barrier Fence (SBF) is 1170km long, extending from the Zuytdorp cliffs north of Kalbarri (in the State’s north) through to Jerdacuttup east of Ravensthorpe (in the State’s south).

Formerly known as the Rabbit Proof Fence and the State Vermin Fence, the fence is being constantly upgraded and extended, to maintain its role in protecting agricultural industries in Western Australia.

In the past, the fence had been used to prevent rabbits from moving into the State from the east. Today, the fence plays an important role in preventing the migration of emus, which can damage grain crops, and the entry of wild dogs into the State, which attack livestock.

The fence track may appeal to travellers and sight seers; however it is illegal to travel along the fence interface.

This advice stems from serious safety issues, associated with the ongoing work of professional Licensed Pest Animal Technician (doggers), who are employed for the control of wild dogs. Doggers lay 1080 (poisonous) baits, set traps laced with strychnine, and carry out opportunistic shooting.

DPIRD describes the area as a hazardous worksite. The use of baits and traps pose a threat to both pet dogs and travellers, and the use of firearms along with heavy machinery that is used periodically along the SBF, creates a danger to anyone in the area.

DPIRD administers permits for the track, as travel in the area is illegal without a permit. Permits will only be issued to those who can provide substantial reasons to justify access. A fine of up to $10,000 can be imposed to anyone travelling the SBF illegally.

Illegal travellers could also threaten the safety of fence maintenance staff, for which the fence is a regular work site.

DPIRD advises it doesn’t want to discourage tourists from enjoying the outback experience, but it would be wiser to travel the many other roads available.

For further information, contact Craig Robins at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, 9956 8505.