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Boundary Fencing and Telstra Wire

it begins with repairs to an existing fence or the establishment of a completely new fenceline,

the outback boundary fence bulges with the weight of stock carried and crops grown,

the boundary fence follows the car for lengths and widths of land,

it says; 'stick to the road,' 'keep out,' 'don't come in,' 'climb through, crawl under, jump over it,'

turns suddenly, is at right angles and then it's gone for good,

for another to take its place, it goes to the still inland,

it catches animals and bush in its thin telstra wire and sand on its worn away woods,

the boundary fence has heard more wind than a young tree,

it is deeply accustomed to cycles of rain and sun in the area,

it has not moved since my father was a boy and he cut his aching fingers on it,

a sliprail is a place for crying or anchored thought, but the boundary fence is moving along,

it is so lonely but for miles on end, it follows the smaller deserts,

tames the accessible outback of new south wales and victorian mallee,

but in the bigger northern territory, queensland and western australian deserts forget it,

the fence that keeps us on the roads is of the mind,

near cobar, in outback new south wales, there is an increase in grey and red kangaroos

at the boundary fences and the scattered inland watering points,

so that fences bulge with marsupials and woody weeds are tirelessly breaking through,

as though we all know they can't contain it, and we can't contain it,

there is a collision of two cultures occurring,

do you require the replacement of a fence destroyed by fire or by flood?

is it electrified, or alive by lightning? is the proposed fence line cleared?

is their a gate and vehicle access?

the approximate length, steel posts, black varnished, is it bronze star or galvanized?

do you require non-electric droppers, barbed wire, iowa pattern, soft wire or high tensile?

do you want wire netting, fencing mesh, insulated posts, insulated stoppers

and prefabricated mesh for cattle, lambs, pigs and goats, or just plain wire sheep fence?

and lastly, rabbit proof fence and wild dog barrier fence, do you want either of them?

what is the approximate length of unfenced boundary, all together now,

let us define the boundaries clearly;

to stop the movement of domestic stock onto the nature reserves,

to stop the movement of hill down into gully and the movement of sun across the windy paddock,

to control the movement of the public and the private land owner,

to stop the movement of wildlife into grazing and watering areas designated to stock,

to describe the problems that straying stock cause the neighbor,

and some document called a 'fauna impact statement,' as they impact upon us,

will it require clearing of the country for the construction of the fence?

recently, a fence adjoining the fence described itself as 'controller and cut-off point'

why would you wish to build a fence? please explain briefly

                                                                                                                             —Coral Hull



Coral Hull's books include In the Dog Box of Summer, How Do Detectives Make Love?, and
Zoo, a poetic collaboration with John Kinsella. She lives in Ingleburn, Australia.

Originally Published in December 2001/January 2002 issue of the Boston Review



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