Dog-legs and cockatoos

clarifying two confused and confusing early Australian fencing terms

John Pickard

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Dog-leg and cockatoo fences were widely used by selectors and squatters in colonial Australia in the early years of developing their selections and runs. However as the terms, which have their origins in colonial Australia, were applied to a range of structures, interpreting contemporary descriptions may be difficult. This paper explores the meanings of the terms and their origins. Dog-legs are paired poles laid diagonally across a fence of any form, but usually some form of log or brush fence, with a log supported in the crutch to increase the height or stability of the fence. They have also been recorded with dry stone walls. In general the term 'dog-leg fence' should not be interpreted as a zig-zag fence, although dog-legs may be used with these structures. Cockatoo or cocky's fence was a derisive term applied to any of a wide range of rough fences, again usually log or brush, and including dog-leg fences, erected by small-scale selectors known as cockatoo or cocky farmers. Historical archaeologists should be careful assigning a specific structure to a contemporary use of this term.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-41
    Number of pages9
    JournalAustralasian Historical Archaeology
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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