Wednesday 28 October 2020

The Dingo Lady and the Photographer

Snowy and Sunny. Photo by Fritz Prenzel. (Berenice Walters Collection)

It was January 1979; the last participants of Sydney's Australia Day Procession were returning to the marshalling area. As they passed the tens of thousands of spectators lining the streets, a group of 15 Dingoes had received a rousing welcome with the enthusiastic singing of ‘Come On Aussie, Come On, Come On; Come on Aussie Come On'.

During the march, Berenice was conscious of a bearded photographer popping up at the most unexpected and regular places to record the group’s progress.

As they dispersed, he happily greeted all the Dingoes and their handlers, incredulous that the beautiful, well behaved golden dogs were members of Australia’s 'dreaded’ Dingo breed, wild dog of Australia.

Their exuberant admirer was Fritz Prenzel, wildlife photographer and author.

After Fritz and his family visited Merigal a strong friendship developed between the Prenzels and Berenice.

His enthusiasm and active support grew to such an extent that he and wife, Heidi became regular, and welcome visitors to Merigal where they shared a special relationship with the aristocratic and aloof Napoleon, the exquisitely gentle and shy Snowgoose, and the exuberant and playful Coalby and Cambo.
 Cambo and Coalby. Photo by Fritz Prenzel. (Berenice Walters Collection)

Fritz took many photos of the Merigal dingoes gifting over 100 for Berenice to use wherever she wanted. These photos are now a valuable part of the Berenice Walters Photo Collection. The photo of Sunny and Snowdrift became well known and featured on the cover of Berenice’s third book, The Company of Dingoes: Two decades with our native dog

In 1981 an article about dingoes by Fritz appeared in Tierschutz Magazine, an animal welfare publication. The article, about the plight of the dingo included a short piece on the cruel attempts to exterminate them. Photos accompanying the article featured Merigal dingoes Napoleon, and Cambo and Coalby.