Dingoes make a difference
  |  First Published: August 2016

With recent reports of dingo deaths on the island, it’s time for another look at how visiting anglers are affected by their presence, as well as expectations and management rules laid down by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). For Queensland’s dingos, there are two distinct sets of rules.

Firstly, there are dogs that roam the mainland causing havoc within the pastoral industries. Although collectively referred to as dingoes, the majority carry the genes of domesticated dogs as well. They are declared pests and are routinely shot or poisoned to bring about their control. Then there’s the Fraser Island dingo: claimed to be the most purebred, this dingo’s management is poles apart from that of a wild dog.

Here, they are fully protected. Management rules and guidelines are strongly involved with the interactions they inevitably have with people. There’s no doubt that dingoes have become part of the tourist experience on Fraser island, with some operators even using them for publicity. Of course, this isn’t the reason for total protection. The debate about dingo management is ongoing. On the island, employees of the National Parks and Wildlife Service do their best to enforce the rules and guidelines. If you would like know more, take a look at the Fraser Island Dingo Conservation and Risk Management Strategy on the Queensland Government website.

Recent dingo deaths, including six at Orchid Beach, are unacceptable. Last month, how they died wasn’t publicised, but rumours have been running wild across the island and Hervey Bay. Likely, interaction with people was involved. Over fifteen years ago, nine year-old Clinton Gage was killed by a dingo at Waddy Point, not far from Orchid Beach and since then there have been numerous situations where people have been injured by dingoes to varying degrees.

Dingoes love fishers, particularly those who like to catch a few sea worms for bait, and who have a berley bag full of fish heads. Fishing from the beach can attract attention, particularly in an on-shore breeze. In an eastern breeze, waving a berley bag around in the surf wash will coax a dingo from the scrub. Mostly, they’re are well mannered and content to sit on the beach watching. Occasionally, they make an attempt to come closer or grab at the bag. The dingo will sit and watch for a short time, until it decides you’re a lost cause and move off to check out other anglers.

The best practice is to avoid throwing an undersize fish into the wash, or on the beach. Given half a chance, the dingo will be into the wash to catch the released fish. Wade into the water far enough to make the release effective. Day or night, fishing in company is recommended. Lone fishing at night is not on. Contrary to the guidelines on fish and bait storage, some anglers leave their bait and tackle on the beach behind them. Not only will a dingo steal the bait, but also rummage through anything else an angler leaves. Leaving bait in unsealed containers is a costly offence.

Disposal of fish offal is also a problem. The QPWS guidelines insist that offal be buried when dingoes are not around, at least 50cm deep and just below the high water mark. Many offal holes are not deep enough, so this exacerbates the problem, as even buried this way, a dingo’s acute sense of smell will locate ‘buried treasure’ with little trouble. Availability of this food source enhances the reliance on people who bury offal. More importantly, the food could be detrimental to the dingo’s health, although fish make up a small portion of their natural diet. The dingo consumes lots of sand with the offal.


Recently, heavy seas have done damage further south, but claimed a lot of sand from the beaches and exposed rarely seen coffee rock outcrops. From reliable reports, the sand was replaced almost as quickly as it was removed. Overall, Fraser Island’s beaches have fared well and hopefully the harsh weather is behind us. Next month we’ll see the annual September school holiday invasion, both on the island, and within Hervey Bay. Check out the best fishing options.

This month’s top fish

Fraser Island Ocean Beach - tailor

Hervey Bay deep reefs – snapper

River Heads – bream

Offshore reefs – scarlet sea perchFraser Island Ocean Beach – tailor

Hervey Bay deep reefs – snapper

River Heads – bream

Offshore reefs – scarlet sea perch


This dingo is digging offal from beach.


A dingo’s acute sense of smell can locate ‘buried treasure’.

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