Sunday 29 January 2023

20¢ Bounty Posted on the Dingo


The final design - Copyright Australia Post - used with permission.

Berenice would often go to bed depressed and frustrated about what to do next to further the cause and wake in the morning with a bolt of inspiration.

One such occasion was in 1978 when the first thing she thought of was a postage stamp featuring the Dingo.

She received a reply to her enquiry within a few days advising her that an issue of stamps titled 'Dogs of Australia' was planned for release in early 1980. The letter advised that as the release was to be in two years the information was to be kept confidential. It also requested a photo be submitted.

The stamps featured the Dingo, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Kelpie, Border Collie and Australian Terrier. Original photographs were accepted for the design. The photo submitted by Berenice depicted Snowgoose, as an adult Alpine bitch. A separate photo of Napilia, Napoleon’s daughter, a tropical pup, was added to the design.

Photo of Snowgoose submitted for the stamp design

When the stamp was released one newspaper ran the headline: 20c BOUNTY POSTED ON THE DINGO.

Berenice was heartened a further sign of a change in attitude towards the Dingo was imminent when the image was chosen for the prestigious 20c stamp. 20c was the cost of a standard letter, making it the most common of the stamps in circulation.

She believed “the inclusion of the Dingo, the dog of the original inhabitants of Australia, would be hailed the world over as a decisive step forward in the annals of appreciation of that which belongs to us all, our national heritage”.

Ironically, at the time, the Dingo was still regarded as vermin by all state and territory governments and still had a bounty on its head in Victoria.

The inclusion of the Dingo stamp in the “Dogs of Australia” set drew enthusiastic acclaim from overseas.

In a letter from the USA, Dr E Klinghammer of the North American Wildlife Park Foundation wrote: “What a victory to have the Dingo on a stamp at last. It is beautiful. People in this country have been working on a wolf stamp, but so far without success. I am sure that gave you a great boost, and I hope that the people in your country will do all they can to accept the Dingo on his own terms….”


Snowgoose’s story is told in the book For the Love of a Dingo by Berenice Walters and Pamela King. Available through the website

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Our Wildlife at Risk by Berenice Walters 1979

Despite State Government intervention in the past, the horror of aerial baiting continues.  Why should the whole of our wildlife be put at risk in the maniacal pursuit of the extermination of the wild dog?

For 200 years we believed without question that our heritage was not worth protecting if it interfered with the making of money.

We believed without question that the only good Dingo was a dead Dingo.

Now we are expected to stand by in mute horror as the mass slaughter of our wildlife by aerial baiting continues.

The spectacle of local birds and pets dying in Moss Vale recently should have struck home what selective hand baiting can do.  Because we saw the results we were incensed.

Because we can't see what aerial baiting is doing must we hide our heads in the sand like the ostrich and pretend it does not exist?

We are told the reason for the baiting ... winter is the time of year when the Native Dog is most savage and does the most damage.

It is the time of year when the female and her devoted mate are scrounging for food to support their puppies.

The poisoned adults die an excruciating, long, and panic-stricken death, whether they be the stock killing culprits or not, desperately struggling to return to their pups while the pups slowly starve to death, or fall prey to other hungry animals while pitifully searching for their missing parents, starvation forcing them from the safety of their den.

Positive extinction of some of our rarer native fauna must also be the end result of aerial and indiscriminate baiting.

For how much longer must the white man and his sheep and cattle be our only concern?

A large section of our community is horrified at the continued use of aerial, baiting and yet a minority group can be given permission to proceed with this highly questionable programme, and with a minimum of publicity, contaminate the whole of the environment

This frightens me.

It is no longer unusual to be requested by people with dogs for sale the animals not to go to country areas where aerial baiting has been carried out.

It is not unusual for people returning to the city with sick dogs to be warned by their vet about the possible hazards of drinking in streams that could be contaminated as a result of aerial baiting.

The use of 1080 poison was banned in the United States because it was recorded again and again that it does have a very substantial effect on non-target mammals and birds.

A whim of fashion - or a realisation of the possible dire effects of the indiscriminate use of such a highly dangerous poison.

With the continuance of the aerial baiting programmes to the north of the State, the usual crop of phone calls from concerned people and the media have been received - people frightened and frustrated at their inability to accept the necessity of this debatable method of controlling the wild dog; people who have huddled in their homes in anguish as the plane passed over on its ominous journey spelling death and destruction to what of us are proud to claim as our National Heritage.

No one is denying that wild dogs attacking stock must be controlled but has anyone the right to contaminate the whole of the environment, killing the innocent as well as the guilty, in this pursuit?

Don't let us sit back in ignorant satisfaction that aerial baiting is controlling the wild dog problem (despite the possible extermination of non-target mammals and birds).  Improved methods of control must urgently be found.

Berenice Walters.

* This article was included in Merigal Magazine in October 1979. In March 1980 it was sent as an open letter to newspapers. But, has anything really changed?

Monday 16 January 2023

Berenice’s Experience with Dingoes Begins

Dora and Berenice at training

Berenice got her first dingo in the mid-1970s

She was a wild born pup given to Berenice “no questions asked.”

After twelve months, Berenice recorded that Dora was not proving to be a docile, affectionate, and fawning pet.

She did not expect her to.

Berenice wrote of Dora:

All the instincts are sharp. She is a wild animal with a wild animal’s strong sense of self preservation and self reliance. The law of the jungle is uppermost – that which cannot dominate is dominated – the survival of the fittest.

By the same token, I have not found her to be savage, untrainable, or unpredictable. She is strong willed; she is affectionate; she is obedient though sometimes wilful; she is gentle, she is proud. She is mine alone……..or am I hers?

Monday 9 January 2023

A Special Memory of Dingoes

This was an extraordinary moment for me I will never forget. The dingoes in these photos were pups born in 1996 at the Merigal Dingo Sanctuary. 

At the time the sanctuary was only breeding stock for other sanctuaries and zoos. This litter of three girls (Keli, Mirri, and Narra) was selected by Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo for the new Dingo enclosure.

I had spent a lot of time with these pups and had the pleasure of being at the sanctuary when their handlers came to collect them.

Two years later, while attending a conference in Dubbo, I contacted the zoo and asked if I could visit the now adult Dingoes. 

I was made very welcome by the staff, taken behind the enclosures, and let in through a back gate. To my complete delight, they remembered me and jumped all over me. It was a moment I will never forget. 


This experience would not have been possible without the encouragement and trust Berenice Walters had in my interactions with the dingoes.

My time with the Berenice and the sanctuary taught me a lot about dingoes and I was privileged to have a personal relationship with many of them and receive their love in return.


But, mostly it was a great honour and a privilege to be involved with an inspirational lady who had dedicated her life to educating people about our wonderful Dingo.