Farmers vs rabbits

Newspaper ad for Suddeth rabbit fumigator.

Newspaper ad for 'Pioneer' Brand wire netting.

Newspaper ad for 'Down-ee' rabbit traps.

Following the end of the First World War in 1918, the government's Rabbit-proof fences were proving less than effective. A plague of rabbits descended on Western Australia.

Les McNaboe recalls: "They used to come in droves off the sand plain. They'd be that thick, they'd be running around the main street in Dongara, eating the figs that dropped off the trees, after dark. Not just one or two - dozens and dozens of them."

It was up to the individual farm-owners in Western Australia to use any and all means possible to protect their property as the rabbits dug out huge warrens in the loamy soil and devoured pasture and crops.

Rabbit wire fences enclosed farm paddocks. Poison baits were laid using an automatic hand operated machine or carts. Fumigating machines were used to pump poison gas, cyanide, smoke or monoxide down into rabbit warrens. Trappers or 'Rabbiters' trapped rabbits - and so did school children, for pocket-money!

Newspapers and other publications of the time contained many advertisments for baits, traps, fumigators and rabbit-proof wire netting - all the available methods for land-owners to protect their property from the devastating effect of rabbits. The ads on this page featured in the Western Mail newspaper, from 1935 - 1937.