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Emma de Groot

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Something different . . a Geography Assignment

Emma de Groot

Movie:            Rabbit  Proof  Fence

1) The video depicted the country of Australia

2) The video was actually filmed in Australia.

3) I have enclosed a map of the country depicted in the film and I have HIGHLIGHTED  the cities and geographical features mentioned in the film.

 

Rabbit Proof Fence is set in the desert areas of the State of Western Australia in Australia.  The fence was actually constructed between 1901 and 1907.  Three fences were initially built with a total length of over 2000 miles.  The longest individual fence was Fence No 1 which was 1,500 miles long.  To give a local idea, this is like building a fence starting from the most easterly point of the USA at Lubec, and running through New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and ending on the coast near New Orleans.  The purpose of the fence as to keep rabbits out of the western half of Western Australia.

 

Twenty four rabbits were introduced into eastern Australia in 1859 by some wealthy Englishman so he go rabbit hunting on his property.  As they had no natural enemies in Australia, they quickly multiplied and soon became a pest; eating all the paddocks of feed and thus affecting the sheep and cattle industries of Australia.  In addition, they also deprived native animals of food as well.  The fence was built to prevent the rabbits from infiltrating the western part of Australia.  A map of the fence is shown in the figure on the right.

 

The movie, Rabbit Proof Fence is about the journey of three half caste aboriginal girls who are trying to return home.  They have been taken from their home in Jigalong in north eastern WA to a school at Moore River (south west WA) by the authorities so that they can learn skills to be integrated into white society.  The girls escape Moore Park and attempt to walk back to Jigalong, basically following the rabbit proof fence.  As such, their journey shows a wide range of the geographic nature of Australia.

 

The film is set in Western Australia – the areas of Moore Park, Yalgoo and Jigalong  However, the majority of the filming was carried out in South Australia – Leigh Creek, Parachilna and the Flinders Ranges.  The map below, which is taken from Google Earth, highlights the two areas:

 

Moore River is located on the western coast of Australia.  It is in a location of reasonable rainfall.  As such the land is well grassed with large amount of native eucalypt trees.  The landform is typical coastal Australia, undulating hills with good vegetation cover (grass and trees).  

 

After the girls left the coastal area, they headed inland towards the Rabbit Fence.  As they travelled inland the vegetation and geography changes.  The land became flatter with less trees.  The land was covered by a low heath –type vegetation.  The reason that the vegetation is directly related to the amount of rain in the area.  Basically as you travel further inland in Australia, the amount of rainfall decreases. 

 

In addition, you note that the mountains/hills in the background are not very high.  This is a because continental Australia is much older than Europe and America and shows the effects of long term erosion.

 

When the girls finally reach the fence, the head north.  At this juncture they are basically in a desert landform.  This is characterised by the saltbush, low undulating landform  and sand  hills. 

 

The girls walk northwards.  The landform is typical Australian desert landform – large tracts if flat land, bounded by low rise hills.

 

Moving further north, the girls enter the Kimberly mountain ranges.  These hills are very old.

 

The erosion lines are clearly visible just below the crests of the mountains.  Looking at the landform, there is very little vegetation, no trees, all characteristic of the arid region through which the girls were travelling.

 

Parts of the journey can only be considered barren wasteland.  The lack of water, plus the poor quality of soil make it impossible for the land to sustain any plant growth.

 

As can be seen from the photos, the journey taken by the girls was in very arid land.  You can understand why the Western Australian Government wanted to build the rabbit proof fence – water and vegetation is scarce.  Any extra demands placed on these by an imported species such as the rabbit would place undue stress on this environment and make it even less viable.

 

Further, the film is based on a true story.  The story is a testament to how closely the Aboriginal people are in tune with the countryside.  These three girls walked  basically around 800 miles with no food or water and survived.  Their natural  intincts for direction, and “bush tucker” (as local food is known) shows that they have a bond with the land which has developed over the tens of thousands of years that they have inhabited the area – all with minimal impact on the environment.

 

This is in stark contrast with the white population who have built towns, farms and  large mining operations which have significantly altered the natural landform.  At its simplest level, the white man has severely damaged the environment (by introducing the rabbit) and then further sought to control this mismanagement by the construction of a rabbit proof fence all to protect their farming operations.  In contract, as noted above the Aborigines have lived in harmony with the land for thousands of years with minimal footprint. 

 

 

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