Synonymous with Fraser Island and Australia as a whole, the humble Fraser Island Dingo (Wongari) has had its fair share of bad press in the past. Probably the best known example of this was their implication in the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, the baby daughter of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, who disappeared in the Northern Territory back in 1980. Lindy always claimed her daughter was taken by a dingo, which was eventually accepted to be the likely cause of Azaria’s disappearance – though it could never be proved. This event along with a number of run ins between visitors and Dingoes on Fraser Island resulted in the dingo being wrongly demonised and feared for many years.
Information has Enabled a Shift in Perspective of The Fraser Island Dingo
But times are changing. Finally, both the government and visitors are recognising how important these beautiful golden sand coloured Dingoes are to the health of Fraser Island’s ecosystem. In their role as the apex predator, the Fraser Island Dingo (Wongari) sits at the top of the food chain and ensures that other species don’t over populate the island. In short, they keep everything in check and this balancing act is vital to the health of any island environment. Without them the whole system would collapse and the island as we know and love it today would change irrevocably.
A dingo and its pup
So how has this change from hated to protected come about, and what can we as visitors to Fraser Island do to ensure the Fraser Island Dingo remains safe and protected in its natural environment?
Conservation and Education
The Fraser Island Dingo is now recognised as the purest strain of dingo on the whole of the Eastern Australian seaboard and maybe even the country. This is down to their isolation which has meant crossbreeding with domestic and feral dogs has been minimal. Extensive education drives and information posters around the island have helped to change people’s perceptions of the Dingo, and helped prevent human/dingo interactions. Visitors are far more aware of the potential dangers and risks involved, to both human and Dingo, when they come into close contact.
Drop Bear Adventurers on the beach for a team meeting
Protect the K’gari – Fraser Island Wongari – Dingo and stay safe
The best thing you can do for Wongari aka Dingoes is to keep your distance. Obviously if you do see a pack or a lone Dingo wandering the beach it’s an awe inspiring sight, and taking photos of these beautiful animals is totally fine and encouraged. But getting too close is bad for both parties, so if you do see a dingo, keep a good distance and put away any food you might have out. Don’t panic and don’t run or jog – there is no need and it could result in the dingo following you.
The less direct contact there is between visitors and dingoes the safer their future will be. This is something we advocate and uphold on our Fraser Island Tours to ensure we do our part. There is nothing more magical than listening to distant howls while you enjoy all the amazing sights of K’gari – Fraser Island. The dingo is back on top, let’s hope it stays that way.
Writer; Kate Moxhay