http://savethedingo.com

Save the Dingo

 

1850 - 1899

Quick Links:


 

Disclaimer:

Information on this page portrays a historical representation of life in Australia at the dates and places mentioned. This page may contain derogatory terms, nudity and images of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to people including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Some accounts also depict scenes of unimaginable and intense cruelty towards the Dingo. These have been included as they represent accurate portrayals of early European persecution towards the Dingo, persecution which continues to this day.

Viewpoints do not necessarily reflect those of SaveTheDingo.com.

 


[top]

 

Summary of Period:

This is a dark period for the dingo with legislation "No.44. An Act to facilitate and encourage the destruction of Native Dogs" becoming law 23/12/1852, signed and dated by the then Governor of New South Wales - Sir Charles FitzRoy. Although the contents of this law seem no longer available, it's said to state that if a landholder wanted to poison dingoes, their neighbors were forced to contribute towards the cost of the poison - regardless of whether they wanted to kill dingoes or not.

By 1852, pastoralists were eliminating the use of shepherding, relying on baiting instead "to allow the safe depasturing of sheep during the night". Baits were being thrown around everywhere nightly. Dingoes were referred to as "El Dorados" and many calls for the dingo to be exterminated were made. By this time, some were happily taking credit for already making dingoes very scarce in Victoria - this was seen as beneficial because thousands of sheep could now graze at night without watch.

However, others warn those in NSW about removing the dingo, as in Victoria they "have driven out one devil, but seven have taken his place" - the native cat (quoll) supposedly the main offender. It is claimed the return of the Dingo "is wished for, by many of the Victoria sheep farmers.". However, rather than returning the dingo, the quoll was also persecuted and by 1872, the tiger quoll was practically extinct in Victoria.

 

Photo of Captive Tiger Quoll

Tiger quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)
Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney, Australia

Photo: flickr/Joshua Cunningham

 

With people homesick for England, the late 1850's saw the introduction of foxes and the establishment of acclimatisation societies - "to make the alien environment feel more like home". The Victorian Acclimatisation Society was formed in 1861 by Edward Wilson - his motto was "if it lives, we want it" - importing any animal and/or plant they could find.

Until this stage, rabbits were not considered a pest or out of control in Australia. However, with the various acclimatisation societies deliberately releasing rabbits and other pests into the environment, along with the vast destruction of dingo numbers, the rabbit soon became a huge nuisance. Farmers later started complaining of rabbits eating all the vegetation and of dingoes growing "more numerous and strong" because they ate the rabbits.

By the mid 1860s, people had started trapping dingoes and art of the day depicting dingoes became very dark. Accordingly hatred towards the dingo intensified and tales demonising the dingo abounded - "The night was so dark that he could see nothing but the glare of their savage eyes", the "brutes" had a taste for "human blood", he "chooses darkness for his rambles, making night hideous with unearthly noises". Stories depicting the dingo as a coward were especially popular. The media doesn't let up - in 1874, a sinister engraving "Haunt of the Dingo" is made and some more in 1877 - "The warrigal's lair is pent in bare, black rocks at the Gorge's mouth" and "Man in pit, surrounded by dingoes, foot of the Great Dividing Range". Dingoes are starting to feature in works in fiction.

1868 is an interesting year, for it sees probably the first article written in defence of the dingo, interestingly by someone at the same time also pushing to expand dingo baiting. This article of 1868 (The Native Dog Question) gives an account of where a dingo was blamed for taking sheep. Yet upon investigation the station manager found the neighbor's domestic working dog to be the problem. It "walked over three miles to a neighbor's, killed and eat a lamb, and then returned home to his day's work". It was not until the mid 1870s more articles started appearing in the dingo's defence - "proof that the much abused dingo is not so bad as he is painted". The argument now centered as to whether dingoes ate kangaroos or not. Some farmers were complaining about kangaroo numbers having exploded since the dingoes had vanished, wanting dingoes back to control kangaroos. Those against dingoes argued that dingoes didn't eat kangaroos; it was the Aboriginals that kept them under control. A further paper item (1880) warns the dingo is becoming rare. Regardless, papers were still filled with calls to make the dingo extinct.

1869 sees the Tasmanian Tiger being hunted in Tasmania, with the famous "Mr Weaver bags a tiger" photo. In just ten years time, bounties will be placed on the Tasmanian Tiger, with 2000 bounties being paid and leading to its extinction.

 

Mr Weaver Bags a Tiger

Dingoes were not the only animals being persecuted during this time. This photo from 1869 shows Mr Weaver with a bagged thylacine.

Photo: Wikipedia.

 

In 1886, a story emerges of an "enterprising go-ahead" seeking to set up a dingo farm, breeding dingoes to rort the bounty system.

With dingo baiting and hunting rife, deceased dingoes are not necessarily wasted - some people made rugs with the pelts - a vastly more useful practice than those of the modern era where some express hatred and medieval mentalities by stringing up dingoes along fences.

In 1889, a media headline claims a dingo has attacked the child. However, the story reads it was a cross-bred dingo and the child had been aggravating the dog by poking a stick at it. Since a cross-bred is not a dingo, we are already seeing the start of media anti-dingo sensationalism. Indeed, the truth is this story should have read "Attacked by a Dog.". However, the building blocks have been set in motion with another paper attempting to strike fear of a dingo plague - "no less than five were seen together".

1880 saw the introduction of Pasture Protection Boards by Sir Henry Parkes with "An Act to protect the Pastures and Live Stock of the Colony from the depredations of certain noxious Animals." and further acts e.g. 1898. These acts forced landholders to kill any and all rabbits, kangaroos, wallaroos, wallabies, paddymelons, dingoes and domestic dogs gone feral. In return, rewards (bounties) were paid. During the period - c.1881 to 1901, 125,633 dingo bounties were paid statewide. In the Central West of NSW alone, bounties were also paid on 354,000 wallabies, 180,000 kangaroos and 165,0000 rat kangaroos by the Forbes Pasture Protection Board. Other animals targeted with bounties included bilbies, magpies, crows, eagles and hawks.

The 1880's also saw the erection of the dingo fence, a fence stretching some 5,614km from Jimbour (Queensland) to near Nundroo (South Australia). It was completed in 1885 and is approximately 6 feet high, composed of wire mesh.

 

Photo of dingo fence

Queensland State Archives 5037 - Dingo Fence Launceston two rows barb 56 - 1952

Source: Wikipedia

 

Throughout this 50 year period, people still debate as to whether the dingo is indigenous. In an account to the Australian Museum (1892), the dingo was described as indeed belonging to Australia - as the discovery of an ancient fossil "sets this question at rest, and goes far towards proving that this species is indigenous to continental Australia, and was an inhabitant thereof prior to its colonization by man".

Drought continues its usual period, with the end of the century approaching one of the worst droughts on record, eventually becoming known as the federation drought. In 1896, one grazier reports going for two years without lambs and being 26,000 short at shearing time. Times were tough and food so scare he states sheep resorted to eating dead rabbits. Dingoes are not immune to drought either, they also would have been decimated during this drought. 1896 was also the year that Belgium researches synthesised fluroacetic acid, a substance later developed into Compound 1080, a product which was to have a dramatic impact on Australian wildlife populations.

 

What I'm waiting to see immediately. The trapping of the 'Dingo' (1862-189x)

R. W. Stuart. Courtesy National Library of Australia. (image auto-leveled to improve clarity).

 

The 1890s saw a strange case of the "Tantanoola Tiger" in South Australia. Combining sheep losses with an escaped tiger cub from a travelling menagerie in the 1880s, a legend formed of a creature whose status at the time was akin to that of the Bunyip. Sightings of the cat-like creature abounded. One hunting party hot on its heels claimed the animal narrowly escaped them by swimming into the ocean at Beachport SA (near Tantanoola) only to surface about 500km away at Port Franklin. Not only was this feat accomplished in the icy Winter waters, but that stretch is also now recognised as prime Great White Shark breeding grounds. The tiger was then sighted in the Gawler rangers. "The tracks are cat shape and as big as an ordinary camp oven. A lamb and several wallabies have been seen much torn and mutilated, and shepherds are in fear of their lives. Applications will be made to the Government for a regiment of soldiers" if the animal is not captured. It was further reported to be "lying in wait... for the shearers".

Tantanoola Tiger in the Tiger Hotel, Tantanoola, South Australia. Of interest is the taxidermists (rather poor) attempt to alter the mouth, showing the teeth, attempting to make the animal look extremely vicious.

Photo - Mick Beaton (cropped).

 

In 1895, the legendary animal was apparently shot by Mr Thomas John Donovan at Tantanoola. Exhibited in Mount Gambier, Wednesday 21st August, 1895, it was the talk of the town. Reports stated "for everyone who heard of it, thought it his duty to tell everyone else as much as he knew about it, and in some cases a good deal more". Many people described it as a cross-bred dingo, but others stated "there was a difficulty there : if that were the case it would show unmistakeable evidence of its mongrel origin." It was claimed not to be a dingo because the undercoat hair was white whereas that of a dingo is dark and that the tail was not fully brushed. However, both these statements are untrue, especially if there is a strain of alpine dingo present. The undercoat of light coloured dingoes can be white and depending on the time of the year and seasonal conditions, the tail may or may not be fully brushed. Regardless, numerous "experts" of the time claimed it was an European wolf, whilst the taxidermist, Mr Marks determined it to be an Assyrian (Iranian) wolf. If so, how and when it got to South Australia has never been determined. A poem was written "The Tantanoola Tiger" by Max Harris, 1921.

Iranian wolf Canis lupus pallipes.

Photo - unknown. Source: http://wolveswolveswolves.wikia.com/wiki/Iranian_wolves

 

Despite the death of the Tiger, sheep deaths continued - and in large numbers. Accordingly, the police were called in. Detective Allchurch was sent to the region, undercover, disguised as a swagman to avoid suspicion. As a result of his inquiries, he arrested a Mr Robert Charles Edmondson. On April 10th, 1911, Mr Edmondson appeared in the Mount Gambier Criminal Court, pleading guilty on charges of killing sheep with intent to steal, and was sentenced to six years with hard labour.

 

To finish the century, Mark Twain voyaged around the world, describing the dingo without fear mongering and bias - as a "beautiful creature... with a ... sociable disposition". He further states the "dingo is not an importation" and he is "the most precious dog in the world".

 


[top]

 

Original Correspondence. (1852)

To the Editor of the "Goulburn Herald."

SIR,--A great deal has been said and written about the destruction of the "Native Dog." It would appear to effect such a result is so desirable in every respect, that no argument is required to enforce it. The "Dingo," however has his advocates among the sheep farmers in the neighbouring colony of Victoria, where this animal has been all but destroyed, perhaps, more correctly speaking, driven away.

Our neighbours have found they have not been such great gainers by ridding themselves of the " Native Dog." They have driven out one devil, but seven have taken his place, more destructive to the increase of sheep than our old sporting enemy. The "Native Cat" is said to have incredibly increased in Victoria, and commits fearful ravages among the young lambs--this sneaking little beast destroying thirty and fortylambs of a night. My informant is of undoubted authority, and he states positively that the bolder "Dingo" is wished for, by many of the Victoria sheep farmers.

I wish to say something very fine--very witty upon this subject. Does not this look something like retribution ? The destructive "Native Dog" brought the visitation of the " Cats" upon the back of the shepherd in olden times. In these purer days, these days of sham patriotism, and the stoppage of the supplies, the destruction of the "Native Dog" brings the visitation of the "Cats" upon the sheep. Putting this Marsh-like joke aside. I should wish to obtain more information concerning the RAID of cats in the neighbouring colony; there is no doubt the little brutes have got rid of an enemy by the departure of the dog, neither is there any doubt of the blood-sucking propensities of the "Native Cat." I am not ignorant that, irrespective of the increase of sheep, in the destruction of the "Native Dog" is involved a question of labour.

Yours, &c.,

AN OLD HAND

 

 


[top]

 

To the Editor of the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal. (1852)

Sir — In the present state of the colony, when shepherds can scarcely be obtained at any price, I am much surprised that the wool-growers   do not endeavour to destroy the native dog. I believe that this object could be so far carried out,

as to render the employment of hut-keepers to- tally unnecessary, and diminish the number of shepherds one half. Suppose, for instance, that every grazier expend in the purchase of strych- nine, one shilling for every hundred sheep he may possess. Five shillings will purchase one gram of this poison, which I am informed is enough to destroy sixty dogs. Well, I will allow   that it destroy ten only ; so that a man possess- ing four thousand sheep, will poison eighty dogs. l believe by this means the "dingo" would be made sufficiently scarce to allow the safe depasturing of sheep during the night. This would certainly   save the squatters half their present expenses, for one man, if the dingo were extirpated could tend three or four thousand sheep with the greatest ease and security. I think this plan quite prac- ticable because I lately observed in Victoria, the beneficial results attending the scarcity of the "dingo," where flocks of the above-named numbers are left out on the run to feed during the night.

Now Sir, if you think the publication of the above hints would benefit the public, you are quite welcome to submit them to their perusal.

I remain Sir,  

Your obedient servant.

THE LITTLE ECONOMIST.    

Oct. 30th, 1852.

 


[top]

 

EXTERMINATION OF THE DINGO  (1858)

In a late number of the Armidale Express we find the following letter, giving the result of an experiment of great practical consequence to persons engaged in sheep farming in this colony :--

Gentlemen--The circumstance of my having reared some sheep which when killed reached the extraordinary weight of 83 lbs., having excited some surprise and remark, I deem it right to offer an explanation. The fact may appear incredible, but is, nevertheless, true; nor were they a few pet sheep, but considerably upwards of a hundred, which averaged very nearly the weight stated. My success is the result of an experience which may yet lead to important changes. Many will remember letters published a few years back by Mr. Robertson, our present Secretary for Lands and Public Works, in which he advocated the passing of a law offering a bonus for, or making compulsory, the destruction of the native dog throughout the colony. I do not say that I owe my success to the opinions expressed in those letters, nor am I sure that I even read them at the time, but it is likely enough in this, as in other discoveries, the same ideas were operating in other minds as in Mr. Robertson's ; and in my case necessity compelled an attempt at carrying them into effect; so far as this run was concerned.

    Previous to purchasing Rockvale I had just had some bitter and almost ruinous experience of New England runs--these El Dorados, which the late meeting was in such haste to class with the best districts in the colony, and to tax accordingly. It was, I say, with fear and trembling that I entered upon my present run, knowing that others before me had signally failed. I had, how- ever, looked at the lay of the land, and had some confidence that with the energy and experience I gave myself credit for possessing something might be made of it. Among other changes, I immediately set about carrying out Mr. Robertson's plans--in other words, every likely place was covered with poisoned bait every night for a lengthened period, and when the dogs were known, by strict observation to be destroyed, I ventured out a flock without a shepherd--never brought it home at night, and followed it only at intervals. The flock might wander home sometimes, but never was in hurdles; nor were they ever but twice whilst this lasted--a period of seven years--known to be rushed by native dogs. Under this treatment they continued to thrive and eventually gave the result which has caused surprise.

...

Roderick McLennan.

Rockvale, July 19, 1858.

 


[top]

Border of the Mud-Desert near Desolation Camp (1861)

 

Painting of Dingoes in the desert

Border of the Mud-Desert near Desolation Camp
Ludwig Becker

Picture courtesy - State Library of Victoria

 

 


[top]

The Death of Burke and Wills (1861)

 

sketch - Dingoes devouring Wills' remains

Dingoes devouring Wills' remains by William Strutt
Undated, Victoria the Golden

Courtesy: Parliamentary Library of Victoria/State Library of Victoria.

 

Burke and Wills led an expedition in 1860-61 from Melbourne travelling north to the Gulf of Carpentaria and back. Both Burke and Wills died on the way back, at Cooper Creek. Starving of food, they had observed the indigineous people prepare cakes out of the nardoo plant. However, nardoo needs to be prepared properly and it's thought Burke and Wills did not do so, resulting in their deaths. John King, one of the members of the expedition, returned to Melbourne alive.

It is claimed that Wills had been dismembered by dingoes and his skull was missing. Burkes body is reputed to have also been dragged around by dingoes and his hands and feet were missing. However his revolver, loaded, was still by his side. The above picture by William Strutt depicts dingoes devouring Will's remains.

 

 


[top]

 

Prospecting at an out station (c.1862-63)

 

Prospecting at an out station. Dingoes, or wild dogs of the Bush prowling round the sheep fold

Samuel Thomas Gill

Picture - State Library of NSW – PXA 1983

 

 


[top]

 

THE DINGO TRAPPED.  (1865)

 

Engraving of dingo trap

 

ONE of the greatest pests of the squatter is the dingo, or native dog--a mean, contemptible brute, possessing all the worst traits of his congeners the wolf and fox. On some stations the annual expenditure in poison for the especial use of the native dog amounts to a considerable item ; and in addition to this the use of traps, such as shown in our sketch, is also found necessary. The trap is usually baited with a piece of meat, or perhaps a dead lamb ; the door is heavily weighted, and the instant the nocturnal thief attempts to remove his prey he finds his egress barred and escape impossible. The rest of the pack, unable to obtain admission, and baulked of their expected feed, crowd     round his prison and commence the most hideous yells, which may be heard for miles through the bush--a noise different from the deep bay of the wolf or the howl of a dog--an amalgamation of both, but considerably more unearthly.

 


[top]

 

The Dingo (1866)

 

THE DINGO,
Or native dog, presents in outward appearance a striking resemblance to the European fox, though in general, rather larger ; while as to character, it has all the fox's cunning and cowardice.   A bull terrier has been known to put half-a-dozen dingoes to flight from the neighborhood of a sheep pen which they had attacked in the night.   The dingo is supposed to be derived from the Japanese wolf, to which also it has some resemblance. It will breed and perpetuate with a common dog. A cross between it and the collie is much sought after by shepherds, as it makes an excellent sheep dog, retaining only enough of its original nature to destroy poultry or small game.   The pure dingo is untameable ; its habitat is the dense scrub or mountain wild; its sleeping place a hollow log; its food, the opossum, kangaroo rat — anything, in fact, in the flesh line. Dingoes are regarded as a great nuisance by the stockowner, and are often poisoned by strychnine on sheep or cattle stations. They will circle round a flock of sheep, snapping at and badly lacerating the outsiders, and often destroying by the poisonous nature of their bite far more than they can manage to devour.  Our view on page 1, represents a flock of sheep at night, with a circle of fire round them to scare the dingoes.  If, while resting in his solitary watchbox, the shepherd should hear, which he most likely will, if the night be stormy, the pecular howl of the dingo, he rushes out and firing off a gun, succeeds for the time in driving the skulking cowardly brute away. They come singly or by half a dozen at a time. It is rarely that they attack a man.  “The only instance of attacking a man I ever heard of,” says one whom we consulted on the subject, “occurred as follows: — About fifteen years ago, my three brothers, at that time farming and cattle rearing on the Para River, South Australia, heard a cry of distress, about eight o'clock one winter evening, from the ranges about half a mile from their house. They at once armed themselves and sallied forth ; guided by the shouts of terror, they at last discovered a hutkeeper, with his back to a tree, surrounded by about twenty dingoes, howling and snapping about him, but still keeping out of reach. The instant that assistance arrived, the native dogs at once rushed into the scrub, pursued by a couple of kangaroo dogs, who worried the dingoes without fear of retaliation, and after being absent about half an hour, came back with their mouths covered with blood, and scarce a scratch, though they were overmatched ten to one.  The hutkeeper's story was that, when going from the head station with a quarter of mutton for his own and shepherd's use, he started after nightfall, and when among the ranges, a cold rain falling at the time, he suddenly saw that he was surrounded by dingoes.  Foolishly, he gave them the meat he carried, emboldened by which, they came to such close quarters that his screams of terror brought assistance.”   An instance of their attacking a man on horseback, was thus reported in a recent number of the Wood’s Point Leader :—' The snow on Mount Useful was eighteen inches. When passing over that delightful pinch on horseback, at ten o'clock one evening, Mr Wm. Grey states that he was pursued by a large pack of wild native dogs, and had to fly for his life. The night was so dark that he could see nothing but the glare of their savage eyes, and he computes their number at not less than forty or fifty. His horse was considerably kocked up, and the ravenous animals were on several occasions so close to its heels that the alarmed rider could only keep them off by shouting at the top of his voice, and striking at his enemies with a stick. This exciting amusement was kept up for several miles, when Mr Grey fortunately met a troop of packers and pack horses, whose tramping of hoofs and cracking of whips had the desired effect, and no more was seen of the unwelcome intruders.”

Some people refuse to credit the story, alleging that the dingo is far too cowardly to attack a man on horseback. We must know more of the animal before being able to pronounce so decidedly on the point. If the dingo be, as supposed, a descendant from the Japanese wolf, why may it not, under certain circumstances, lose its timidity and resume in full its original nature? The circumstances calculated to produce such a change are to be found in the alpine regions of snow where the event is said to have occurred, for there the pangs of hunger would be likely to be intensified, and the bodies of men who had been lost in the wilds would be the means of accustoming the brutes to the taste of human blood.

Picture of dingoes attacking horse rider

 

 


[top]

 

DEATH TO THE DINGO (1868).

DAVID A. McConnel. Cressbrook, July 11.

HAVING read two excellent letters in your journal on the "extermination of the native dog," allow me to take up a little space in order to ventilate the subject further, and with the hope that more information may be elicited.
I have a direct interest in this matter, having fenced in several large paddocks for sheep, and also having employed one and sometimes two rangers for the last two years. There can be no doubt that individual efforts to eradicate this great pest will be of little avail; it must be carried out either by a well organised combination of squatters, or by some Government measure; the latter is the only practical way, as many of the squatters are cattle holders and take but little interest in the matter. Until something is done to destroy the native dog fencing in of sheep runs is money thrown away, to a great extent, and the expense of watchmen and the losses so well described by your correspondents will always be incurred.
I should be glad to see more information given how to apply the poison, for I have found great difficulty in killing some dogs. It is quite true that the baits are frequently turned over and refused. For the last nine months one large black dog, well known to many here, has managed to evade all our efforts either to poison or catch, and often comes near a hut in the night; he is clever enough in killing sheep, and moves from paddock to paddock. It is argued by many, who have experience too, that a dog who has been sickened by too small a dose, and recovered, can take a good many baits afterwards with impunity. In West Moreton wild dogs are very numerous, and probably as much so in East Moreton ; scrubs and ranges being great shelter for them. In the last twelve months I have paid premiums of 5s. a tail for 54 dogs, and 1s. a head for 107 eagles, destroyed on this run, or close to its boundaries. If we take the estimate of your correspondent of one tail found out of 5 dogs killed we shall have killed 270 dogs in one year.
Your correspondent mentions three modes of legislation for the destruction of native dogs; the first, an old New South Wales Act, 16 Victoria No. 44, I have made use of here for a year, and find it obnoxious and offensive to neighbors to be compelled to pay for my baiting the boundaries, whether they have sheep or cattle, and does not seem to lead to any good practical result.
The second plan of a small tax on sheep and cattle owners, and, from the fund thus raised, to pay 5s. a tail, is not likely to be successful, for 5s. is far too little; to judge from this run, 54 tails at 5s., or £13 10s. a year, would not suffice for the rations of one man.
The third plan, if it were properly carried out, promises very well. It would, however, require very close watching and also the lapse of some time to know if the contractor for a certain district had done his duty. It is so easy to slur over such work. The district for each contractor would need to be small, and every lessee of crown lands as well as his manager and overseer would have to be consulted to know if the contract was properly carried out. The broken and inaccessible ranges and scrubs which give shelter to the dogs are the spots which the contractor, if a stranger, is not likely to find, and, in any case, is very apt to miss out, as they would give him a good deal of trouble. This plan, too, would be rather expensive.
I would suggest another plan, or rather a modification of the second—viz., to levy a tax of 5s. per 1000 sheep, and 5s. per 1000 cattle, and 1d. per each horse, and with this fund to pay £1 a tail in the form of transferable land orders. It might thus be worth while for some owners of runs to employ parties, or for some sportsmen who would like a life of adventure for a time to travel and shoot wallabies, which make excellent baits. By this plan it is the direct interest of the ranger to destroy as many dogs as possible, and for that reason he is more likely to go to the most inaccessible places which are the habitat of the native dog. This plan would also be the least expensive to the Government, and the owner of the run might repay himself for the amount for which he is taxed.
It is to be hoped that some efficacious plan will be carried before Parliament this session and brought into use. In fact, the increased rents of runs and the necessity of greater economy in the management by fencing in call for some decided and effectual cure for the native dog pest.
David A McConnel.
Cressbrook, July 11.

 

 


[top]

THE NATIVE DOG QUESTION. (1868)

SIR: In your issue of July 22 there appears another letter from "Myall," in which he accuses me of sneering. I only wish to assure "Myall" that such was not meant; but, with all due deference to his superior experience of the dingo's mode of life, my opinion, like his, still remains unshaken,  As for a dingo passing baits and traps when close to an insecure sheep fold—which " Myall's " must have been, else why sheep killed nightly there?—it is only a very common affair. But if the dingo came there one or two nights without his feed of sheep, hunger would soon induce him to pick up a bait. Cunning dogs are generally half-bred, and I believe, further, that very many of the very cunning in sheep folds are not seldom perpetrated by the dogs of the station. I will mention one example, which occurred some years since on the New England borders of Queensland, while I had charge of the station. Some six weeks after lambing was over, a fleck (our best) of ewes and lambs were camped close to the house, in a secure (or thought to be) yard. Every morning the shepherd, a good old hand, reported that a dingo had visited his yard and killed a lamb. I thought this strange, and as dingos seldom are satisfied with one lamb, but generally indulge in indiscriminate slaughter, I went to the yard to see if any more than one had been attacked, but I could not see any marks of bites on any of the flock. A second and third night came and the same result each night. I was very wroth, and had a shindy with the old man, blaming him for not keeping a better watch. He vowed that "That ere dog was an old stager, and worn't a-going to be kotched with poison when he could get young lambs." Well, the next night I determined to sit up and watch myself for Mr. Dingo. I had some young kangaroo dogs, but they were hardly to be depended upon, so I kept them in hand to chase the marauder. Near midnight I heard the sheep rush, and I alarmed the old shepherd with the noise I made; but off went my kangaroo dogs, and after them I followed. They soon pulled the dog down, and I rushed in and ham-strung him and secured his brash, as I fancied my young dogs might perhaps not kill the dingo. About 8 o'clock next morning, a shepherd living three miles off came in, saying some one had ham-strung his dog and cut off his tail. I produced my brush, and it was at once identified as his dog's former property. Now, Sir, this thieving dog in following ewes and lambs was a good, useful dog, well under command ; his owner set great store on him ; yet he left his master's flock reposing in quietness, walked over three miles to a neighbor's, killed and eat a lamb, and then returned home to his day's work. Possibly the wide awakes mentioned by " Myall" may have some such blood in them as the one I allude to. I should, for one, be most happy to hear any suggestions of " Myall's " as to wholesale poisoning; but I say again, it will be useless for only one or two to begin. It must be a work of unity, and all squatters, whether cattle or sheep, should aid in the work. But with good shepherds and secure dog-proof yards, the dingo will not do so much harm.

Yours, &c., AN OLD OVERSEER. Burnett, August 31.

 


[top]

 

Just Too Late (1869)

MR. LACY has furnished a spirited sketch not unfamiliar to those who are wont to follow the dingo to his lair, and enjoy the pleasure of an Australian hunt sans redcoats and buckskins, masters' whips, or winding horn. The kangaroo and dingo, or native dog, as he is sometimes called, form the only objects available for bush hunting, and the latter has been known to lead a merry chase for many miles.  He is at best a cowardly cur, and like his congener, the wolf, chooses darkness for his rambles, making night hideous with unearthly noises. Woe betide any unfortunate stray sheep, or weak lamb, that may have dropped out of the flock once the dingo gets on his track. A few cleanly picked bones and scattered locks of wool will be found next morning to tell the tale. The squatter is, consequently, the dingo's deadliest enemy, and provides him with dainty feeds of meat and strychnine as less costly than fat sheep solus, Sometimes a straggler appears, and is hunted in the manner described in our engraving. Once on his trail the more powerful kangaroo dogs leave him little chance save to seek refuge in some rocky cleft.

Picture

 


[top]

 

Dingo Rug (1871)

 

Dingo Rug

This rug was made in 1871 by James Pridham in Adelaide, SA and given to his wife Rebecca as a wedding present. It consists of 12 pelts sewn together.

Courtesy - National Museum of Australia.

 

 


[top]

 

The Dingo (1873)

 

(Canis familiaris Australasiæ)

A GREAT deal has been said and written against the dingo ; we shall now take an opposite course, and see what can be said in his favor. His pedigree is involved in mystification, and the only reasonable conclusion is, that he is a wolfish representative of more refined and probably domesticated ancestors. Generations may have lived and passed away ere he reached his present condition, roaming over immense tracts of country , entirely self reliant, his instincts would become sharpened, and in the course of time he would develope into that peculiar type which we see in the dingo of the present day.

A well grown dingo is a formidable foe, deep-chested and muscular, and endowed with a keen relish for blood. We can readily imagine the terror stricken flight of native animals from such an adversary. The dingo will chase sheep and kill them simply for the sake of taking life ; frequently this is done with a sportive kind of savageness. It does not in every case follow that he is driven by the intensity of hunger to these attacks on sheep, he appears to like establishing his superiority over weaker or more timid animals and does it in his own rough way.

That the dingo was intended for some wise purpose no thoughtful person will deny, and it   may prove interesting to know that the Australian dingo has indeed been a useful animal. If kangaroos, including scrub wallabies   and the smaller species of that tribe, had lived all these ages in undisturbed security, the pastoral tenant would have been spared a deal of trouble and anxiety--in other words, our squatters would have found the country in undisputed possession of kangaroos. This can be easily understood when we consider the amazing rapidity with which they increase. Year after year the scrub kangaroos would spread out in wider circles, leaving tracts of grassless country behind them, which, in the absence of bush files, would contain masses of scrub thickly interspersed with heavy timber. In droughts, the same destruction would go on--herbage disappearing and thick timber taking its place. There would be a few exceptions,--here and there a bright spot of sufficient extent to show what the country might have been. This is no overdrawn picture ; for undoubtedly, had the propagation of kangaroos gone on unchecked, their numbers would have increased beyond all calculation. Witness the trouble they give in Victoria since the extermination of tho dingo; but we have no need to go to a neighboring colony for evidence of that kind. Queensland presents a rich field for the contemplative mind. Since the system of paddocking was established,   poisoning dogs bas been vigorously carried on, and as a natural result, in the short space of five years, we find the kangaroos to all appearance more than doubled in numbers. More than one sheep station could be mentioned which has been rendered useless by these destructive animals.

We do not venture on an opinion as to whether tho dingo ought to be killed or not. There are two evils to be considered--the gradual curtailment, and consequent reduced carrying capabilities of runs, by kangaroos (be it under stood we include wallabies, paddymelons, and a host of smaller fry) , or losses of sheep, which must happen where they run in paddocks, but   where sheep are shepherded, and there are good yards to put them in as a precaution against a rush, there ought to be no casualties. It is not only a matter of calculation, but a question requiring some consideration. It is doubtful whether an Act passed making it compulsory to kill native dogs would be a judicious step. Should severe measures be decided on, there is little danger of the dingo becoming an extinct animal in our time, since he has many friendly places of shelter teaming with game, and far beyond tho reach of his enemy, man. We maintain that the Australian dingo was intended for a useful purpose, and we know that he must have carried on his allotted task ably, for by his instrumentality the kangaroos have been kept under, and the country allowed to clothe itself in verdure, and remain in a state ready for occupation by man.

So much for the despised dingo. He performed the task assigned to him ; now the hand of man is against him, and it remains to be seen whether the squatter can cope as successfully with the kangaroos.

O.

 


[top]

 

Haunt of the Dingo (1874)

 

Wood Engraving - The Haunt of the Dingo

The Haunt of the Dingo
Hugh George for Wilson and MacKinnon, October 3, 1874

Courtesy State Library of Victoria

 

Wood engraving published in The Australasian sketcher, P.124.

 

 


[top]

Man in pit, surrounded by dingoes, foot of the Great Dividing Range (1877)

 

Man in pit surrounded by dingoes

Man in pit, surrounded by dingoes, foot of the Great Dividing Range

February 17, 1877

Courtesy State Library of Victoria

 

In this wood engraving, a man has fallen into a pit and is looking up to see dingoes surrounding the top, no doubt anxious to eat him.

 


[top]

Usefulness of the Dingo. (1877)


A COUNTRY correspondent has been kind enough to send us the annexed contribution in proof that the much abused dingo is not so bad as he is painted :

The following circumstances may be of interest to some of your readers, but especially to those who are favoured with the marsupial plague. Two days ago, I, with a, party of men, were driving a mob of cattle across a creek that has very steep sides, and only a narrow track on each side down and up for a crossing place. On the bank was the skin of a kangaroo with but the large leg bone attached, all the rest eaten by dogs. In the bed of the creek were two more dead kangaroos, one of which was partly eaten, the other quite whole, but very much bitten about the neck and lower parts. They were all within ten yards of each other, and appeared to have been killed that morning. All round the kangaroos were signs that large mobs of dogs had been there. While we were examining the place the cattle spread a good way over some fresh green feed, and when I got up out of the creek, I galloped off to round up the mob; in doing so I passed an old hollow tree that was lying on the ground, out of which ran six young dingos about three-quarters grown. When I again joined the men they said they had seen the six puppies run out, and also an old one, and five other puppies had ran out of the other end of the tree after I had passed, so there   were twelve in all. It is strange that these dogs were nearly all black in colour. I have seen lately several other kangaroos that have been killed by dingos, and I saw twice within the last two months as good a hunt with dingoes as ever I have with kangaroo dogs, and I am fully satisfied that they do a great deal of good, by killing marsupials, although many people think they kill very few, and are more fond of killing calves. I have not seen more than three calves bitten this last five years,   and I lately branded nearly six hundred calves and only one showed signs of having been attacked. I suppose they can get so much of their natural kind of food, that they do not care for the trouble of taking a calf from its mother or from a mob of cattle which gives them hours of labour.  

 

 


[top]

The Dingo. (1880)


TO THE EDITOR OF THE INQUIRER.
SIR,— In a late issue of your paper appears a letter from a correspondent calling attention to the destructive qualities of the native dog, and to the necessity of the Government taking some action thereon to move this great evil, from whom ? — the sheepowner. Now, sir ; it appears to me a matter with which the Government has nothing whatever to do. What evil does the animal cause to the public in general ?
In districts without sheep ? None ! Then, I say, let the owners of sheep put their hands in their own pockets (no large sum will be needed) and pay for “tails.” The flock-owner is in general a man well-to-do in a worldly sense, and consequently quite able to protect himself from the ravages of the "dingo." The number of this animal is not great. I have travelled over a great part of this colony, and have seldom met with him. I have also encamped out, both in sheep and cattle districts, and I can assert, without fear of contradiction, that the dingo is not numerous in the settled districts. It will doubtless be stated that the dog is destructive among cattle. It is not so according to my experience. It has often been asserted that cows are attacked by this animal, but on enquiry I invariably found that the injury complained of was done by natives' dogs, and that the much-abused dingo was blameless.   Objection may be taken to my assertions, and that night is the time the dog commits his depredations. I reply that I am aware of this, but still I assert the same as before — I have been out at night in the bush oftener perhaps than most men.   I trust the Government, before taking action on this subject, will make inquiry. If not, the flockowners, or their advocates, will next ask assistance in cleansing their flocks, by being furnished with tobacco. Let every hearing hang by its own tail. "DINGO."  

 


[top]

Original Poetry - The Dingo Hunt (1885)

R.N.G.

THE kangaroos quietly feed
All down along the creek,
For well they know that seldom indeed
mankind that spot doth seek;
Also a wild dog from afar,
Fast by the granite rocks.
Has come down to make deadly war
Upon the fleecy flocks.
An eagle-hawk is soaring high,
Far, far above them all,
Where the huge mountain to the sky
Uprears its head so tall.
And all down by the water's side
The birds are flying free,
All in the shady forest wide;
'Tis pleasant there to be.
But soon that peaceful scene must change
For one more full of strife—
For one by far more wildly strange—
A race for very life.
For over on tho other side,
Upon the rising ground,
Three horsemen come with rapid stride,
Then pause and look around.
The foremost horseman gave a glance.
And round again glanced he;
Then looking once just by chance
That dingo wild doth see.
Well may the wild dog shake for fear.
Well may he trembling quail;
For why ?— the horseman in his rear
Was hard upon his tail;
And down before his gallant horse
The waving wattles went,
And down before his furious course
The dark green dogwoods bent;
As rushing like the roaring wind
Most fiercely doth he ride;
The others follow on behind,
Right down that scrubby side.
Away and down the hill they go.
Far swifter than the breeze;
Like lightning sped the wild dingo
Beneath the waving trees.
But as they cross the narrow plain
That lies beneath the hill
The horsemen on the wild dog gain,
Yet keep behind him still.
And straightway up the other side
He held upon the race,
With open jaws extended wide,
For fearful was the pace.
But here the horsemen give him ground,
Their hands and faces bleed;
On up that steep and scrubby mound,
The chestnut in the lead.
Now down upon the other slope
The trees more open stand,
And here the wild dog loses hope—
His foes are hard at hand.
A few more tries, a few more turns,
Most gallantly he's run;
His beating heart within him burns,
At last he's nearly done.
But still to life he bravely clings,
When down from off his horse
The nearest horseman lightly springs,
And hits the dog with force
A blow right fair between the eyes;
The blow comes down again,
Life from his body quickly files;
He gasps for breath in vain.
And now may jimbucks jump for joy,
And crows croak loud in woe;
For sheep no more he will destroy.
Nor ever hunting go.
That dingo wild lies still and dead,
And never more he'll roam
The ground he often stained with red,
Far from his rocky home.

 


[top]

 

The Dingo Controversy (1885)


THE "Dingo Question" is one which largely concerns most of the pastoralists of the colony ; they all take particular interest in this canine aboriginal, but there seems to be no possibility of agreeing about him. One party regard him as their friend, in a general way, and laud him for his virtues, while the other can see nothing but inherent vice in his nature, and treat him as their deadly enemy. There are few animals which are viewed so differently by men who ought to have a practical knowledge of their business, and the action of the Legislative Council in refusing to include him in the list of doomed animals led to a renewal of  the old discussion about him. Some of the statements which have been made are worth notice, because it is well to know as much as possible about it when such a subject is brought forward in Parliament and the taxpayers of the colony are asked to contribute half-a-crown for each dog whose scalp is presented to a divisional board receiver. It is contended by the controversialists on one side that dingoes are the natural enemies of marsupials of all kinds, whether large or small, and that they hunt down kangaroos and wallabies, and kill either them or the young which the mother casts from her pouch when she is closely pressed in the chase. Others who have lived in the bush for many years will not admit that they do anything of the kind, and say that they have never seen an instance. So far as this point is concerned there can be little doubt that the dingoes do run the larger marsupials, and kill both them and their young. Statements to that effect have been made by gentlemen who say they have seen the hunting, and whose word it would be unreasonable to discredit. Against their word there is but negative evidence on the other side. Like St. Thomas, faith comes to some people only with material proof ; but it must be borne in mind that, out of the hundreds of men who live in the bush, there is a very large proportion who are not quick-sighted, and a great deal goes on around them as they ride through the forest of which they know nothing ; they do not see it because it does not come immediately before them. Others again seem to have their eyes everywhere ; not a movement far or near escapes them, and few blackfellows are sharper. Most men weary of the bush, which is to them a monotonous waste ; but to the keenly observant there is always something to look at, and every place hits more or less interest for them. These are the men who see the dingo running the kangaroo, and exhausting him without at all distressing himself; they witness the struggles of the snake as the hawk carries him into the air ; they watch the skilful manner in which the laughing- jackass will draw the whole of a worm from the ground instead of breaking him through and losing half of the dainty morsel ; for their entertainment old men kangaroos stand up and spar like human beings and fall and struggle on the ground ; then stand and spar again. Are we to believe that these things do not happen because most men do not see them? Certainly not while truthful witnesses describe such sights.

But the anti-dingo men have a legitimate argument when they assert that the dingo of the present time has acquired a taste for veal and lamb and will forsake the food which Nature provided for him when he has the more tempting meat within easy reach. There is good sense in this and there is truth, and it must, therefore, be accepted. The real questions at issue are whether each pastoralist who suffers from the depredations of dingoes is to battle with them at his own cost, or whether his neighbours are to be compelled to help him; and whether the whole of the taxpayers of the colony are to be forced to contribute one half of the expense. This is the principle which has been adopted in respect to marsupials, but as they destroy the grass, and it is the grass right that the lessees pay for, they have a clearer claim against the State which demands their rent. If they were not assisted in this way, and did not choose to destroy the marsupials, the value of the country would be decreased and its revenue-producing capabilities diminished. So far there is a strong case in favour of State assistance in this direction, though the propriety of compelling one lessee to contribute to the destruction of marsupials on another lessee's run is a question of expediency rather than one which can be logically demonstrated. In asking for assistance to destroy the dingo, it is necessary to go further for an argument, and to contend that, although he is not graminivorous, he is destructive to the stock that subsist upon the grass for which rent is paid to the State. A contention of this kind is rather far-fetched and the question resolves itself into one of expediency only.

Regarding it from another point of view, it will be admitted that native dogs have a distinct mission laid out for them in the scheme of Nature. Like crows and eagles they are the scavengers of the forest,  and, under conditions which existed before the white man penetrated the solitudes of the wilderness, all of these helped to prevent the too rapid increase of grass-eating animals ; they consumed whatever decaying animal matter the blacks would not touch, and they helped to maintain Nature's balance. This state of things no longer exists, and the domestic dogs can attend to that work now just as the white men have displaced the blacks who are fast disappearing. Shall we say, then, that the dingo should also make way for his more cultivated representative ? There is some show of argument in this view of the case, for have we not seen elsewhere that the buffalo and other wild animals have given way to the modern cattle and sheep and goats ? There seems to be no very strong reason for arguing against the annihilation of wild dogs if others can accomplish in the present state of the country what Nature intended that the dingo should do when the blacks were in full possession. Still that does not settle the difficulty as to the cost of their destruction, and the question of arrangement about that is unaltered. If any assistance has to be given, the manner in which it has been proposed to give it, and the decision of the boards on to its application to the districts which they represent, is on the whole as fair a plan as has been proposed. This is as much as can be conceded ; for, if the claim for help in destroying one enemy of the woolgrowers is, ad mitted, is that to be the end of it? Eagle-hawks are numerous, and cause great losses in the lambing paddocks ; why then should not the sheep owner be relieved of the cost of poisoning them also?-Queenslander.

 

Read online: The Dingo Controversy - The Brisbane Courier. Saturday 22 August 1885.


[top]

 

Dingo Farming (1886)

DINGO FARMING.--The latest idea of a New South Wales enterprising go-ahead is dingo farming. That animal, as everybody knows, is an object of  interest and having a price paid for its destruction by the pastures and stock protection boards of the colony, a selector has conceived the idea of keeping a few for market. The McIntyre Herald credits the Moore scalp-hunters with this, and refers to the " station " in the wild bush as being carried on, on the most scientific principles. The undertaking is described in a way which at once pronounces it a profitable industry, as the harvest of 1885 brought in £47 10/; this the proceeds of a single pair with the regulation ears. The scalps are distributed in small numbers among trusted confederates. The receivers take them over and give the necessary certificates for the amounts.  

 

Read online: Dingo Farming - Goulburn Herald. Tuesday 4 May 1886

 


[top]

 

Australian Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil (1886)

Page 86:

What is said of Shepparton in the north-east applies to Horsham in the north-west. Horsham, the newly-created capital of the Wimmera District, is entitled 'the Prairie City.' The Wimmera climate is hot and dry, and there were doubts as to whether the farmer would hold his own on these arid plains; but the settlement is now twelve years old, and is increasing mightily. This Wimmera District tapers off into the mallee scrub, the old desert of Victoria, which has lain neglected for years, while Victorians have opened up country 2000 miles away. Here the dingo found his last refuge, and to the infinite joy of the dingo, as it may be supposed, the rabbit appeared upon the scene. When the rabbit came, the few squatters who were trying to turn the mallee scrub to account gave up in despair, for first the rabbits devoured the scant grass on which the sheep fed, and then the dingoes feeding on the rabbits grew more numerous and strong.

Drawing of Dingoes

 

Page 183:

An animal that stands entirely apart from the marsupials in Australia is the wild dog. The dingo is one of the mysteries. Whence did he come? He is allied to the wild dogs of India, but why should this Indian animal be in Australia—his form on the surface and his bones in ancient deposits—while no other representative of the fauna of the Old World is known? Leaving science to unravel this problem, it may be said of the dingo that he is a good-looking but an ill-behaved animal. He is compared to the sheep-dog, to the wolf, and to the fox, and, in fact, he has a dash of each of these creatures in his appearance. He is about two feet high, is well-proportioned, with erect ears and a bushy tail. He stands firmly on his legs, and shows a good deal of strength in his well-constructed body. His colour varies from a yellowish-tawny to a reddish-brown, growing lighter towards the belly; and the tip of his brush is generally white. He cannot bark like other dogs, but he can howl, and he does howl with a soul-chilling effect. His note is to be likened unto The wolf's long howl from Oonalastra's shore.

Campbell's melodious line conveys the idea of misery, and discomfort and uneasiness are engendered when the slumbers of the sleeper in the bush are disturbed by the blood-curdling cry of these breakers of the nocturnal peace. The blacks used to catch the puppies of the wild dog, and then train them to hunt, but they found the European dog sufficient for their purposes, and much more docile and affectionate. As dingoes worry sheep, the first task of a squatter is to get rid of them. When they breed in shelter and a semi-settled district—if they can issue from mallee scrub—a handsome reward is always offered for their heads. In parts of Victoria as much as £2 per head is paid.

Man has to be fed, and therefore game has to be shot and fish has to be caught. The animal life of Australia had little rest when the blacks roamed over the country, but it has still less, now that the white man is in possession. The kangaroo hunt varies from a necessary slaughter of the blue and red kangaroos of the plains, to an exciting run and desperate fight for life at the finish of it, when the game is the big dark forester living in the timber belts that line most of the Australian streams. The battue of kangaroos is often rendered imperative by the rapid increase of the marsupials after the disappearance of their old enemies, the aborigines and the dingo.

Sources:


[top]

 

The warrigals lair is pent in bare, black rocks (1887)

 

The Warrigal's Lair - wood engraving

The warrigal's lair is pent in bare, black rocks at the Gorge's mouth, - KENDALL.

Wood engraving published in the Illustrated Australian news.

Picture - State Library of Victoria

 

The above picture refers to the poem "The Warrigal" by Henry Kendall, written 1886.

The Warrigal (Dingo).

The warrigal's lair is pent in bare,
Black rocks at the gorge's mouth;
It is set in ways where Summer strays
With the sprites of flame and drouth;
But when the heights are touched with lights
Of hoar-frost, sleet, and shine,
His bed is made of the dead grass-blade
And the leaves of the windy pine.

Through forest boles the storm-wind rolls,
Vext of the sea-driv'n rain;
And, up in the clift, through many a rift,
The voices of torrents complain.
The sad marsh-fowl and the lonely owl
Are heard in the fog-wreaths grey,
When the warrigal wakes, and listens, and takes
To the woods that shelter the prey.

In the gully-deeps the blind creek sleeps,
And the silver, showery moon
Glides over the hills, and floats, and fills,
And dreams in the dark lagoon;
While halting hard by the station yard,
Aghast at the hut-flame nigh,
The warrigal yells -- and flats and fells
Are loud with his dismal cry.

On the topmost peak of mountains bleak
The south wind sobs, and strays
Through moaning pine and turpentine,
And the rippling runnel ways;
And strong streams flow, and great mists go,
Where the warrigal starts to hear
The watch-dog's bark break sharp in the dark,
And flees like a phantom of fear.

The swift rains beat, and the thunders fleet
On the wings of the fiery gale,
And down in the glen of pool and fen,
The wild gums whistle and wail,
As over the plains and past the chains
Of waterholes glimmering deep,
The warrigal flies from the shepherd's cries,
And the clamour of dogs and sheep.

He roves through the lands of sultry sands,
He hunts in the iron range,
Untamed as surge of the far sea verge,
And fierce and fickle and strange.
The white man's track and the haunts of the black
He shuns, and shudders to see;
For his joy he tastes in lonely wastes
Where his mates are torrent and tree.

 

Read book online: The Poems of Henry Kendall


[top]

Wild Dogs Watching for Kangaroo (1888)

WILD DOGS WATCHING FOR KANGAROO.

Wood engraving published in the Illustrated Australian news. May 26, 1888. Engraved by Samuel Calvert.

Picture courtesy State Library of Victoria.

 

 


[top]

 

Attacked by a Dingo. (1889)

RYDE, Thursday. — On Wednesday evening a child named Munro, living at North-road, Ryde, was poking a stick at a half-bred dingo of a very savage nature, when the animal strained on its chain and broke it. The dog overtook the little boy, and bit its left arm very severely. For some reason the boy was not taken to a medical man until this morning, when it was found that the flesh was much lacerated and contused about the muscle.

 


[top]

Dingoes (1889)

    Dingoes are making their appearance in large numbers in the ranges above Queenstown, and are making sad havoc amongst the goats. On several occasions lately dingoes have been seen in various parts of the ranges, and in one instance no less than five were seen together.

Copy of newspaper item

 

 


[top]

 

General Items (1893)

Tracks of the Tantanoola tiger have been seen in the Gawler Ranges. A big spotted animal was seen in the Tandy Ranges by a stockman ; the animal was said to be as big as a bullock. The tracks are cat shape and as big as an ordinary camp oven. A lamb and several wallabies have been seen very much torn and mutilated, and shepherds are in fear of their lives. Applications will be made to the Government for a regiment of soldiers and some heavy guns if it is not success fully captured. The supposition is that it must have swam, from Beachport to Franklin Harbor to save capture under the close pursuit of the Coola and German Creek hunters. It is also supposed to be lying in wait in the back tracks of the Tandy Ranges for the shearers who frequent that country about this time of the year- This is a "goak."

 


[top]

The Tantanoola Tiger (1895)

It could hardly have been suspected that there existed such a deep interest in the Tantanoola "tiger" as was exhibited by the public of Mount Gambler on Wednesday afternoon and evening, when it was reported that the widely famous animal had been shot, and that its carcase had been brought to Mount Gambier. The news spread rapidly, for everyone who heard of it, thought it his duty to tell everyone else as much as he know about it, and in some cases a good deal more, Everyone was anxious to learn about it, and greedily listened to the most exagerated details. The news of the death of the beast was brought by Mr. Thomas Donovan, of Nelson, on the Glenelg River, a few minutes before 2 o'clock p.m.; and at the same time he brought up the carcase of the animal. Mr. Donovan, it may be here said, is one of the most experienced and best shots in the district, having spent many years in hunting the wildest parts of the country. Last year he accompanied the police party who were looking for the tiger in the Duckhole paddock, for a short time, and lately he has been searching for, Mr. Hannagan's tiger near Albrecht's creek. Failing to get any trace of this last beast he resolved to have another look for the Tantanoola "tiger" that Messers. MacLay and Houston recently saw in the Duckhole paddock of the Mount Schanck run. To that end, on Tuesday afternoon he left Nelson, accompanied by Mr. William Taylor, both being well armed, and drove to Mount Salt, a part of the Mount Schanck estate, in the Hundred of Kongorong, and in the evening saw Mr. R. G. Watson, the manager. It was their intention to spend a week or more looking for the animal if they could not find it earlier. Mr. Donovan was armed with a Winchester repeating rifle, and Mr. Taylor with a double barrelled gun, the one using bullets and the other large shot. Mr. Watson was not disposed to employ any one to hunt for the beast, and Messers. Donovan and Taylor asked him if he would allow them to camp on the run, and look for it on their own account. He agreed on condition they tied up their dogs so as not to molest the sheep, and Mr. Donovan says that at their request Mr. Watson recommended them to a range about four miles west of Mount Salt, on part of which it was Messrs. MacLay and Houstson said they saw the animal. He and his companion went out, and camped for the night, about a mile and a half from Mount Salt. They were, he said, very early on the look-out next morning. After traversing a considerable area of country apart, they met again at a point about four miles west of the station. This was soon after daylight. Shortly before sunrise they saw, at a distance of 800 or 400 yards, in fairly open country, but somewhat ferny, a mob of sheep very much disturbed and agitated. They observed that the cause of their alarm was the presence amongst them of a large animal, the nature of which they could not ascertain clearly at that distance, but which appeared to be a large dog. Presently they saw it single one from the flock, catch it, and worry it a bit. This it did three or four times, quite stupefying its victim. In the meantime the sportsman crept stealthily up towards the beast, until they approached within about 100 yards. They had seen that when the beast knocked its victim over it sat up on its haunches and gleefully watched the effect; and, taking advantage of one occasion on which it so sat up, nearly facing him, Mr. Donovan, taking steady aim, fired at it. The animal was apparently hard hit, but at once made off as fast as it could travel. But its time had come. Having gone 200 yards or more it fell, and Mr. Donovan and his companion, going up to it, found it dying. The shot had been a splendid one. The bullet entered about three inches behind the right shoulder blade, and came out behind the ribs on the left side, having gone clean through the heart. The animal proved to be a male of the dog kind, different to anything they had ever seen. Without any delay they carried the carcase to Mount Salt, and considerably astonished Mr. Watson, who, without expressing an opinion as to what it was, concluded it was the animal that had been frightening people from time to time in that neighbourhood and was known as the Tantanoola "tiger," and was a sheep killer. He believed, be said, that Mr. Gardiner would suitably reward them for the capture. Mr. Donovan then brought the carcase to Mount Gambier, and a few minutes before 2 o'clock placed it in the hands of Mr. James Marks, taxidermist, Claraville, to have it flayed and stuffed, with the view of having it publicly exhibited. When the news circulated that the beast had been brought to Mr. Marks's there was great excitement. Dozens of people visited the place to see it, and amongst them a representative of the Watch, to whom Mr. Donovan told his story, as related above. There was a vast amount of speculation as to what the animal really was. Only that it was too big--much too big--it might answer the description of a dingo. Some people, therefore, suggested that it might be a cross between a dingo and some other large dog. But there was a difficulty there ; if that were the case it would show unmistakeable evidence of its mongrel origin. The animal was declared by Mr. Marks and several others who saw it to be none other than a common European wolf (Lupus vulgaris or Canis lupus). When standing it was 2ft. 6in. or 2ft. 7in. high, but is said to have looked nearly 3ft. when alive. Its length, from the tip of the muzzle to the root of the tail was 3ft. 9in., and the tail 1ft. 3in. more, making a total length of 5ft. It had a singularly broad, wolf like head, 13in. from ear-tip to ear-tip. The ears were shorter and more open than those of the common dog, and the broad head narrowed into a sharp black muzzle, the length from the top of the head to the end of the nose being 10 inches. The canine teeth were nearly an inch long, and the rest of the teeth were very powerful. The eyes were set somewhat obliquely in the head. The head was in some respects similar to that of a dingo, but it was equally like that of a wolf, and more like that of a wolf as regards the size. The neck was very massive and shaggy, and the tail, which was perfectly straight, was a brush - not a very dense one like a fox's, but somewhat like that of a collie dog, The color was a dark brown along the back and tail, and a bright fawn or grey on the sides, belly, and flanks. The head was also fawn; light underneath. The legs, which were powerful, were smooth, of a yellowish color, and there was not as much long hair on the back or sides as the natural history authorities would seem to require in a wolf; but that, it is thought, may be the effect of age and climate. The paws would make a large track, similar to those of a dog, although certainly the two front toes were closer together than those of a dog, which is characteristic of the foot of a wolf. The paw, when spread out in walking, would make a track perhaps 3½ inches wide, which is about as broad as the strange tracks seen in Mr. John's yard, near Tantanoola, in 1893, a rough cast of which was taken, and is now, we believe, in the Register office in Adelaide. As we have said, Mr. Marks (at first), Mr. C. Engelbrecht, who has seen many wolves in Germany and elsewhere, and other good judges, declared it to be a common European wolf. Others who are, at all events, thoroughly well acquainted with the indigenous animals of the district, are cautious, and assert that if it be a native animal it is a singularly large and rare one. Yesterday Mr. Marks, after studying his books, said he was disposed to think it a Syrian wolf, which is always of a light fawn color.

In "Cassell's Popular Natural History" vol. II., page 62, the common wolf (Canis lupis) of Europe is thus described :-- "The common wolf of Western Europe is in height from 27 in. to 29 in. at the shoulder. The general color on the head, neck, and back is fulvous (yellowish) grey ; the hairs being mostly white at the root, then annulated with black, fulvous and white and pointed with black, those beneath the ears, on the neck, shoulders, and buttocks being considerably longer, furnishing a kind of mane, which particularly protects the throat; all are hard and strong, especially about the nose and on the ears. The muzzle is black, the sides of the cheeks and above the eyes more or less ochry, turning grey with age. The upper lip and chin are white, the limbs ochry or dun; and adults have on the wrists an oblique blackish band. The sense of smell of the wolf is peculiarly strong. It can wiud its prey from a very considerable distance. It runs the foot of the animal it is in pursuit of in the same manner as a dog. Its track much resembles that of a dog, but it is longer and broader. The two middle claws are near together ; the outer ones seem wider apart ; the ball of its foot is large, and of the shape of a heart. The average height of the common wolf is about 24ft. before and 2ft. 4in. behind, and the length of the body, from the tip of the muzzle to the beginning of the tail, 3ft. 8in. The average duration of a wolf ’s life is 15 to 20 years. The track is readily distinguished from that of a dog by the two middle claws being close together, while in the dog they are separated."

The common wolf is thus referred to in "Chambers' Encyclopædia" ;-- "It inhabits Europe and the northern parts of Asia, its range extending from the Arctic regions as far south as the northern parts of Africa and of India. It is of a yellowish or tawny grey color, with strong coarse hair, which is longest on the ears, neck, shoulders, and haunches, but particularly on the throat ; the muzzle is black, the upper lip a thin white. The ears are great and pointed, the muzzle sharp ; the legs rather longer than those of the Shepherd's Dog, the tail bushy, but not curling, the eyes oblique, giving a peculiar vicious expression to the countenance. The wolf is swift of foot, and hunts deer and other animals, packs of wolves associating for this purpose; it also often commits great ravages among sheep and attacks calves, but seldom full-grown oxen. It seldom attacks man, unless hard pressed by hunger, when it becomes very dangerous. . . . In general the wolf is cowardly and stealthy, approaching sheep folds and farm buildings by night in search of prey, and readily scared by any demonstration of watchfulness, fleeing from dogs, and not readily exposing itself within range of shot. It defends itself, however, with great vigor when compelled to do so. It is not easily trapped." It will perhaps be noted by the reader and possibly by the people who will go to see the stuffed animal in Mr. MacKenzie's rooms to-day, that the creature shot by Mr. Donovan does not in all respects fill the bill laid down by the authorities ; but Mr. Marks and others are of opinion that the hair and markings would be affected by climate and age, and that the points of identity with the Cams lupus considerably outweigh the differences. Mr. Marks lays particular stress on the character of the hair, which, he says, does not go through the skin, as in the case of a dog, and it is set in a kind of fur, which is never found on dogs. Mr. Daniel, who has recently seen the wolves in the Adelaide gardens, is positive the animal is a one of the same species.

Mr. John Livingston, of Burrungul, who, as well as Mr. G. Riddoch, M P., has all along held that a tiger or some other fierce beast of prey, not indigenous to the country, haunted the locality between Mount Salt, German Creek, and the sea, and who has amid much discouragement and not a little ridicule, from time to time given practical proof of that belief by organizing hunting parties, and (as stated in the Watch of Wednesday last), recently employed two men to watch for the beast seen by Messers. Houston and MacLay, is now in a position to turn the laugh at the jesters. Mr. Livingston rode up to Mount Gambier on Thursday, on Stock Association business, and learned on his arrival of the shooting of the wolf. He went to Mr. Marks's to see it, but was unfortunate in finding the taxidermist tanning the skin, which was turned inside out. He was, therefore, unable to see more than the head, the feet, and the general color and character of the hair. From the description of it which Mr. Marks gave him he is not quite satisfied that it can be the same beast that has been described by Taylor, by Uphill, by Smith, by MacLay, and others, as being like a royal tiger, "with large head, outstanding bristles on each side of the mouth, a striped body, and a long flexible tail, which curled up at the end," and thinks it possible that the real Tantanoola "tiger" may be  still at large. It really does seem incomprehensible how anyone seeing the beast which Mr. Donovan has shot, in broad daylight, should have mistaken it for a tiger. At several chains distant it would certainly appear to be a dog; at nearer view it would appear a large, fierce, and perhaps dangerous dog; and at still closer quarters its character as a wolf might be apparent. However frightened one might be at it, it seems inconceivable that the idea of a tiger should come to the mind. At the same time it is highly improbable that two such animals as a wolf and a tiger should be roaming in the same locality in this district.

"How did it get there?" is a problem everybody would like to unravel; and which will perhaps never be solved. It is just as extraordinary a thing that a wolf should be there as a tiger. Perhaps it will appear more extraordinary to the minds of most people, and for this reason; We had a plausible legend that something over 15 years ago a travelling menagerie lost a tiger cub on the journey between Mount Gambier and Millicent, and after spending several days looking for it relinquished the search. It has been thought that this youngster survived the trials of cubhood, and developed into the fullgrown Tantanoola tiger. But the discovery of a wolf was never anticipated. It is a real surprise, for which we were quite unprepared ; and no one has yet had time to find a reasonable surmise as to how the beast got planted in the district. It seems possible that it may have been the only survivor of some of the disastrous wrecks, such as that of the Geltwood, that have occurred on the adjacent coast.
Although the shooting of the strange beast of prey has caused a large amount of excitement here and elsewhere in the district where the tidings have gone, there are some who are disappointed that the exit of the creature from life should have been so devoid of sensation. Nothing could be more prosaic than the way in which Mr. Donovan despatched the animal.

It is not quite certain how long a time has elapsed since the "tiger" was first seen in the district. Roughly speaking it must be about 10 years. Mr. R. T. White, of near Tantanoola, was one of the first, perhaps the first--to see it, and he is said to have observed it one night on his property, but his discovery was not made known till long afterwards. Mr. White thought it was a tiger. In 1891 or 1892 some blackfellows encamped at Wattle Range heard something which greatly frightened them and alarmed their dogs, but they do not appear to have seen anything. In the beginning of 1893 Mr. W. Taylor and others saw it in the daylight, but the descriptions given by them would lead to the inference that it was a royal tiger, and nothing else. Unbelievers suggested that it was a dog (although the descriptions did not warrant that conclusion), a large pig, a fox, &c. Mr. J. Livingston, however, was firmly convinced it was a tiger, and at his instance a search party, consisting of two mounted troopers and several civilians spent May 17 of 1803 in the German Greek country looking for it. They saw nothing but wallaby and sheep. Last year Mr. W. Uphill, Mr. Siebey, and Mr. D. Smith saw the animal near the Duckhole Swamp, near German Greek, and so great was the interest aroused that a black-tracker was sent from Adelaide to run it to earth, and with two troopers he spent several weeks in the vicinity of where it was seen. But with provoking ill-fortune the animal could not be seen nor traced with anything like certainty, although a trail where it was supposed to have carried a sheep was followed for two miles. More recently Messrs. MacLay and Houston saw it in the same locality. That induced Mr. R. G. Watson to send out a party of men to have a look for it in the tea-tree, and Mr. Livingston to engage two men to spend a fortnight there patiently waiting an opportunity to shoot the beast. Mr. Watson's men were unsuccessful, and the fortnight for which the other men were employed has not yet expired; but Messrs. Donovan and W. Taylor have probably deprived them, by their lucky descent on the wolf-haunted country, of the animal they were waiting for. Unless indeed another animal fitting the description of a tiger more accurately be seen in the same locality in the future Mr. Donovan will have won himself lasting fame by having shot the best advertised beast in Australia--the "Tantanoola tiger."

On Thursday Mr. Marks and Mr. Donovan received eight or nine telegrams from Adelaide enquiring what they would take for the wolf, and two Mount Gambier syndicates approached them and made definite offers. One Adelaide gentleman asked what would be the charge for the loan of it for a week, and others offered them a share in the profits for a longer term. One of the Mount Gambier combinations offered £50 for the animal, stuffed, but no sale was made.

Mr. Marks has made a capital job of the stuffing and mounting of the animal, and it looks as imposing and fierce as ever it could have done in life. It is announced that it will be exhibited this afternoon in Mr. C. Mac Kenzie's large room, Penola road.

 


[top]

 

Intercolonial (1895)

The people of Adelaide have heard a great deal concerning the mysterious rover of Tantanoola which was at first supposed to be a tiger, and when shot last month was pronounced to be a European wolf. Citizens are now given the opportunity or inspecting the stuffed remains of the animal which has created so much stir among the flocks of the south-east, and no small degree of excitement among the population, for Mr. Thomas Donovan, who shot the beast at Mount Salt on Mount Schank Station, and Mr. James Marks, the taxiderdermist of Mount Gambier, have brought the interesting object to Adelaide for exhibition at the Zoo, says Thursday's 'Adelaide Register.' It is a 'curious looking animal for Australia, to say the least, and one, when alive, one would not have cared to meet. It more closely resembles a wolf than anything else. Certainly it has nothing of the tiger family about it. Mr. Marks, who seems to be an authority on zoology, is positive that it is a European wolf. As now to be seen it is about 5ft in length, 2ft 4in in height, and 23in round the neck. In many respects the characteristics of the wolf are noticeable. The coarse black-grey coating of the back sprinkled with white hairs, the few white hairs on the rump, the white features, limbs, and white tip of the tail, closely correspond with the marking of the European wolf. The hair is set in fine white fur, therefore differing from the dingo, whose fur next the skin is dark. Its great neck and powerful forequarters indicate the strength of the beast, and the general outline coincides with that of his supposed type.  If further identification is wanted, it is supplied by the black collar mark and the mane and teeth : and that it is not a large-sized dingo, as some have said, is pretty clearly proved by the tail, which, instead of being 'brushed' only underneath, is so all round, like that of the wolf. Its ears straightened out measure 13in, from tip to tip. Mr. Marks points out that the incisors — worn away as they are — establish the fact that the animal is by no means young. The interesting animal in the gardens — a cross between a black wolf and an Esquimaux dog, is the only exhibit which it at all resembles, and in many points the resemblance is very close, though the latter has more of the appearance of the dog than the South Eastern product has.

 


[top]

Sheep Eating Dead Rabbits (1896)

South Australia.

THE DROUGHT IN THE NORTH.

NO PASTURAGE.

SHEEP EATING DEAD RABBITS.

ADELAIDE, Thursday.— The drought in the northern pastoral district has driven sheep to eating dead rabbits. Mr. K. Mateson, manager of Leigh's. Creek Station, writes: "I am sending you the bones of dead rabbits, which may be interesting. A few days ago my man killed a sheep for rations, and he called my attention to it, and I found these bones in a hard lump in the rectum. This will give you an idea of the state of the far north country, owing to the drought, when the sheep have to live on dead rabbits. This is the severest drought ever known in this part of the north. We lost all our lambs last season, and it is getting too late now to expect any for next season. In fact, nearly all our breeding ewes are dead. At shearing time I was 26,000 short of the number I expected to have shorn."

 

 


[top]

 

Mark Twain: Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World, (1897).

" In that garden I also saw the wild Australian dog--the dingo. He was a beautiful creature--shapely, graceful, a little wolfish in some of his aspects, but with a most friendly eye and sociable disposition.

The dingo is not an importation; he was present in great force when the whites first came to the continent. It may be that he is the oldest dog in the universe; his origin, his descent, the place where his ancestors first appeared, are as unknown and as untraceable as are the camel.

He is the most precious dog in the world, for he does not bark. But in an evil hour he got to raiding sheep-runs to appease his hunger, and that seals his doom. He is hunted, now, just as if he were a wolf. He has been sentenced to extermination, and the sentence will be carried out. This is all right, and not objectionable. The world was made for man--the white man."

 


[top]

“Tantanoola Tiger” (1911)

The case against Robert Charles Edmondson, charged with killing, with intent to steal, 76 sheep, the property of James Chant, Tantanoola (S.A.), was concluded late on Thursday night.

David Bald went on to describe how Edmondson and himself had coralled and killed a number of sheep and sent the skins, to Adelaide. At last accused came to him and said the yards had been discovered, and if he did not keep his mouth shut he would blows his brains out. The whole country was in an uproar over the business. Soon after the yards had been discovered Edmondson met him and told him he had been to the camp and collected all the cart notes, post cards, labels, and tickets. These were burnt in witness' presence in a shed at accused's home. Roy Hawke, laborer, employed at James Chant's said : “I am often on Lake Bonney flats. I have seen Bald and Edmondson camped in Nitschke's paddock, near Chant's boundary. During September I asked Edmondson what he was doing. He said he was trapping. There were 14 or 15 shrivelled skins at the camp, and no sign of trapping on a general scale. I saw Edmonson on a subsequent occasion. He said, `You had a narrow escape ; I just fired a few shots to-wards you; I fired at crows.’ He advised me to keep out of Nitschke's, as it was dangerous there. He had a rifle in his hand at the time. About 12 months ago I met Edmondson. He asked whether I wanted a job. I said, `Yes.’ He   replied, `I can lay you on to a real good job. You can make £50 or £60 out of it easy.’ I asked what the job was, and he said that Hughie McCallum was going down to Carpenter's Rocks prospecting, and had given him £3 to show him around. Edmondson asked me whether I knew now what the job was, and I replied, `In sheep?’ Edmondson said, `Hughie wants a man to drive sheep away out of the paddock.’ I said the job was no good to me. Accused asked me not to tell anyone about it. Neither McCallum nor Edmondson had any sheep of their own at the time."

Herbert Allchurch, a detective, stationed at Adelaide, described how he visited the yards on January 4. He visited several smaller yards, and saw 19 carcases and five skins altogether. On the following night he met Edmondson at an hotel, and took him into a private room, where Constable Mowbray was seated, and told accused they were police officers, and explained the finding of 57 dead sheep. Accused said he thought it was 157, not 57. Allchurch said he had heard Edmond was selling sheepskins, and he believed he had killed the 57 sheep. Accused said, I have never owned a sheep nor sold a skin in my life. Bring the man here who says l did, and I'll kill him.” Witness visited the tent on January 7, and portion of an account sales. Bald led him into several yards in the ti-tree, including a big shearing pen. Later on Bald made a full confusion.

Accused reserved his defence, and was sent on for trial at the next Circuit Court at Mount Gambier. Bail was refused.

 

 


[top]

Obituary - Death of Detective Allchurch (1930)

The death is announced of Detective H. Allchurch, who died at Parkwynd Private Hospital on Saturday. Mr. Allchurch was well known in Mount Gambier, as he was stationed in the district some years ago, but, possibly the event in his career which made, him famous throughout Australia was the way in which he cleaned up the “Tantanoola Tiger” mystery. For years it was reported in the Tantanoola district that an escaped tiger was roaming about the scrub. Many residents believed that they had either seen or heard the animal, and from time to time farmers missed sheep from their paddocks. But when they began to disappear in large numbers, extra efforts were made to locate "the tiger." Detective Allchurch was deputed to assist the local police in solving the mystery. Mr. Allchurch was soon on the scene, and, following up one clue after another, he eventually had the culprit, which proved to be a man named Edmondson, laid by the heels.

A remarkable story lay behind the arrest of Edmondson. The police had suspicions, but Mr. Allchurch, then a detective, solved the mystery.

Placed in charge of the case, it is related that he visited Tantanoola in the guise of a swagman, so that he would not arouse suspicion in the little town, and in conversations at the hotel which is now surmounted by the figure of a tiger, secured information which placed him on the trail of the sheep slayers. Careful investigation and checking of his information followed, and finally he arrested Edmondson.

The Police Court and Criminal Court trials excited immense interest, and the Courts at Millicent and Mount Gambier were crowded with visitors from all parts of the South-East.

The upshot was that on April 10th, 1911, Edmondson, who had pleaded guilty when brought' to the Mount Gambier Criminal, Court was sentenced to six years' imprisonment with hard labour.
Sir Samuel Way, the Chief Justice, commended Detective Allchurch for the great skill he showed in preparing the case, and M.C. Mowbray, of Millicent, for the admirable way in which he had seconded the efforts of the detective.

Mr. Allchurch, who was 62, joined the police force in 1904. Seven years after he was made detective-sergeant. He proved, a brave and able officer, was often commended by judges and magistrates for his conduct, and for the manner in which he prepared his cases.

 

 


[top]