The Rabbit-Proof Fence was constructed in Western Australia in the early 1900s, and was completed in 1907. Designed to keep the invasive rabbit populations of the eastern bush from entering Western Australia, the 1100-mile-long fence ran north-to-south and served as a major marker for the semi-nomadic Aboriginal populations who lived nearby, at Jigalong Depot and other government stations. When Molly, Gracie, and Daisy escape internment at the Moore River Native Settlement, Molly’s plan for returning them all home safely is to follow the rabbit-proof fence all the way north to Jigalong. The fence—constructed to keep out the quickly-multiplying and noisome rabbit populations that were introduced originally to Australia by English settlers themselves—serves as a metaphor for the cruelty and incompetence of the colonialist government, and as a symbol of its desire to keep problems which they themselves created at arm’s length.
White settlers decimated Aboriginal lands and murdered and raped Aboriginal people. They systematically prevented Aboriginal tribes from practicing their own laws, culture, and traditions, and from speaking their own native languages. The horrors of colonialism forever transformed the Australian landscape—physically as well as psychically—and created an environment in which Aboriginals, stripped of their culture, resources, and history, were often forced to assimilate or die. Just as the English created the problem of the rabbits (by bringing the invasive species from Europe in the first place) and later sought to eradicate them, they invaded Aboriginal lands, created unspeakable and unimaginable strife, and then sought to keep the Aboriginals contained in internment camps and small tracts of decimated land in the hopes of effectively erasing them altogether.
The Rabbit-Proof Fence Quotes in Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
There was much excitement when the girls at last reached the rabbit-proof fence. The fence cut through the country from south to north. It was a typical response by the white people to a problem of their own making. Building a fence to keep the rabbits out proved to be a futile attempt by the government of the day. For the three runaways, the fence was a symbol of love, home and security.