The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia, formerly known as the No. 2 Rabbit-proof Fence, the State Vermin Fence and the Emu Fence, is a pest-exclusion fence constructed between 1901 and 1907 to keep rabbits and other agricultural pests, from the east, out of Western Australian pastoral areas.
There are three fences in Western Australia: the original No. 1 Fence, which crosses the state from north to south, the No. 2 Fence which is smaller and further west, and the smaller east-west running No. 3 fence. The fences took six years to build. When completed in 1907, the Rabbit-Proof Fence (including all three fences) stretched 2,021 miles (3,253 km). The cost to build the fences at the time was £337,841.
The fence posts are placed 12 feet (3.7 m) apart, and have a minimum diameter of 4 inches (10 cm). There were initially three wires of 12½ gauge placed at 4 inches (10 cm), 20 inches (51 cm), and 3 feet (91 cm) above ground, with a barbed wire added later at 3'4" and a plain wire at 3'7" to make the fence a barrier for dingoes and foxes as well. Wire netting was placed on this, which extended to 6 inches (15 cm) below ground.
The fence was constructed with different materials due to the local climate, and availability of wood. At first salmon gum and gimlet wood were used, although these attracted termites (locally known as white ants) and had to be replaced. Split white gum was one of the best types of wood used in the fence. Others used were mulga, wodjil, pine, and Tea tree, based on where it could be found close to where the fence was to be built. Iron was used in parts where there was no wood.
Richard John Anketell was responsible for the construction of the greater part of the No. 1 Rabbit Proof Fence and the survey of the last seventy miles of it through waterless and inhospitable country, a work which took from 20th August 1904 until 30th September 1907. During this period Anketell controlled a workforce of 120 men, 350 camels, 210 horses and 41 donkeys with an average load for transport of 375 miles.
Alexander Crawford took over the maintenance of the fence from Anketell when the fence was finished in 1907 and remained in charge until he retired in 1922. The area inside the fence to the west became known as "Crawford's Paddock". The fence was maintained at first by boundary riders riding bicycles, and later by riders astride camels. However, fence inspection was difficult from atop the tall animal. In 1910 a car was bought for fence inspection, but was subject to punctured tyres. It was found the best way to inspect the fence was using buckboard buggies, pulled by two camels.
The camels were used as pack animals, especially in the north, while in the south, camels were used to pull drays with supplies for the riders. Camels were ideal for this as they could go for a long time without water, and it has been suggested that the fence could not have been built or maintained without the use of camels.
In addition to Crawford, there were four sub-inspectors, each responsible for about 800 kilometres (500 mi) of fence, and twenty-five boundary riders who regularly patrolled 160 kilometres (99 mi) sections of fence. Due to frontier violence in the north of the state, a 500 kilometres (310 mi) section of the No.1 fence was patrolled by riders in pairs.
Crawford was responsible for eliminating rabbits which had breached the fence. In the first year following the completion of the fences, colonies were found and destroyed near several locations inside the fence, including Coorow, Mullewa and Northampton.
Following the introduction of Myxomatosis to control rabbits in the 1950s, the importance of the Rabbit Proof Fence diminished.
Intersection with railway system 
- Number One Fence intersected at:
- Number Two Fence intersected with most lines of the Wheatbelt railway lines of Western Australia
Cultural references 
In 1929, Arthur Upfield, an Australian writer, began writing a fictional story which involved a way of disposing of a body in the desert. He had previously worked on the construction of the No. 1 fence. Before the book was published, stockman Snowy Rowles, an acquaintance of the writer, carried out at least two murders and disposed of the bodies in the method described in the book. The trial which followed in 1932 was one of the most sensational in the history of Western Australia. A book was published about the incident called Murder on the Rabbit Proof Fence: The Strange Case of Arthur Upfield and Snowy Rowles. The incident is now referred to as The Murchison Murders.
In the book Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington Garimara, the fence was used in the 1930s by three Indigenous Australian girls for their route back home to Jigalong. The girls, taken from their parents in Western Australia as part of the Stolen Generation, escaped from the Moore River Native Settlement mission where they were being held and walked back to their family at Jigalong by following the rabbit-proof fence. The 2002 dramatic film Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on the book.
Outside of WA 
A fourth rabbit fence crosses Queensland.
See also 
- The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia (2001). Archived from Western Australian Department of Agriculture Centenary website
- The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia
- Author: Terry Walker. ISBN 978-0-85905-189-7
- Darling Downs - Moreton Rabbit Board
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rabbit-proof fence|
- Run Rabbit Run! Australian Museums and Galleries
- The State Barrier Fence of Western Australia Pandora Online Archive
- The Rabbit Proof Fence Library of West Australian History
- At Australia’s Bunny Fence, Variable Cloudiness Prompts Climate Study The New York Times