|The dingo club on Fraser Island|
David Whitley embarks on a stand-off with one of Australia’s ‘native’ dogs.
It stands in front of us with an air of wary menace. It’s a stand-off. At one end of the path is a pathetic shower of wimps, clad in shorts and sun-hats and at the tail end of a substantial walk through the sand dunes.
At the other is a small dingo. It is stood to attention, stretching itself out as big as possible, preparing to face down a group of beings that must look as huge as giraffes look to us.
There’s a quiver and a girly yelp to my left. “We’ve got to go back,” says Gillian. “Let’s just walk backwards, slowly, and with our arms crossed.”
Such is the rampaging, vicious, baby-killing reputation of the dingo: a normally sane human being is prepared to walk a few kilometres backwards to avoid one.
In reality, the dingoes of Fraser Island aren’t really that much of a danger. When they do cause problems – and there have been a few attacks in recent years – it’s generally due to human habits. People leave food lying around and they attempt to get close to the wild creatures. It’s not really the dingoes’ fault – they don’t want to be around humans, but with Fraser Island being one of Australia’s major tourist spots, they don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.
The Fraser Island dingoes are thought to be the purest breed in the world. The island – off the south Queensland coast – has become something of a haven for them. Its relative isolation has prevented interbreeding, and Fraser is regarded as prime habitat.
The dingo is called Australia’s native dog, although it isn’t technically native to Australia. It is thought that they’re related to dog species in South East Asia and were brought over as hunting dogs around 4,000 years ago. But in many ways, they’re as Aussie as kangaroos and koalas.
We’re at Rainbow Gorge – an almost lunar landscape of coloured sands, and one of Fraser Island’s more underrated attractions. Walking through on occasionally soft sand is a bit of a hike, but nothing too strenuous. We’re literally only about 200m from the beach at the end of the walk, but the blond doggie stands between us and freedom.
The girls are clearly terrified, and are genuinely suggesting walking backwards for a few kilometres as a suitable solution to the issue. Mercifully, testosterone wins. A couple of the male contingent starts to pace very slowly towards the canine terror. Arms folded across our chests as if we’re retards in the X Factor studio audience, we’re making ourselves look as big as possible without looking threatening. Will the dingo back off? It stares at us, assessing the situation (or, more likely, having a good laugh at the idiots in front of it). Then, the moment of truth... it makes to move... and it’s a slow pace into the trees. We breathe a sigh of relief, and then start thinking of excuses to make the girls walk back anyway.
By David Whitley