A Dingo On The Bibbulmun Track?
During late May 2016, I had completed about 760km of the 1000km Bibbulmun Track, I had departed that day from the Woolbales Campsite. The day before I had been hit by a brutal severe weather warning storm, it was still raining but the wind had almost gone. By this stage I was feeling extremely fit and strong, the 20km days of hiking felt easy, I was really enjoying myself.
On this day I was on the lookout for emu’s and ofcause snakes as the south-west section of the Bibb is famous for them, I had seen an emu the day before so I wanted to see more, they are a funny creature in the wild, with their frantic sprint, almost like a panic.
I reached an outcrop of flat granite rock which was about the size of a basketball court if I remember correctly and on my right, was a forest which appeared to be about 50 metres away.
It was then that I noticed something moving slowly on the ground in the tree’s, I stopped to have a look. I first thought it was a kangaroo or another mammal it had the short dark brown, dark grey almost black fur. But after a better look, I noticed it was on all fours, that’s no kangaroo. Then I thought it maybe was a dog, yes, a wild dog, but then I saw its head. It was not the head of a typical house dog which I was familiar with, it was short and round with a kind of long pointy nose. Its legs were much lighter in colour almost beige near the paws.
I didn’t think about taking my phone out to take a photo of it. It was raining and my phone was tucked away in my pack keeping dry. I continued to walk further until I reached another crop of granite rock, once again on my right was this animal. It was so calm, no rush, it seemed like it was following me from the side, it was keeping an eye on me but I never felt threatened. It had a similar build of an Australian Sheep Dog, I noticed its pointy ears.
It continued to walk beside me for about 10 minutes and then it was gone when the landscape changed.
This experience kept me wondering until I reached Walpole a couple of days later. I texted my friend Maja back in Perth and told her about this animal. Maja jokingly says to me, it’s a dingo!
I replied no, you don’t get dingos down here and it’s the wrong colour, this animal is dark brown almost black, it was in a forest. Maja then suggested since I was spending the next day in Walpole I should do some research, I agreed.
I jumped online and Googled wild dogs of the south-west, I then saw something for the West Australian Dingo Association, I started to look at photos and became very curious.
I decided to email the association, it was a Sunday so wasn’t expecting a reply for a few days. I explained to the reader of my email what I observed, the behaviour of the animal, it was curious, calm, intelligent. I described the dark brown, grey fur, ears, tail and nose.
I told them that I doubted that it could be a dingo, I was in the south-west and dingos aren’t that colour, they are light browns and beige.
Was a surprise when within two hours I received a reply from a member of the association.
It is very possible that there may be remnant populations of Dingoes in the deep South West. Dingoes in SW WA were all but eradicated in the 1950s 1960s.
The colouring that you mention may indicate that it could have been an older Black and Tan Dingo that was common in the area early last century. The black colouring gives good camouflage in Forrest areas that have been burned as the blend with blackened tree trunks. A very rare sighting indeed.
It is also possible that it a remnant dingo hybrid or feral dog.”
This is a photo of a dingo that the member emailed me as an example of my description. The animal I saw that day was almost identical.
After further research and emails, I realised that I had possibly seen the first dingo in the area in 40 years. They were eradicated by farmers through the ’60s and ’70s. I learnt that dingoes are excellent adaptors to their environment. The dingoes we see on tv are the light brown, beige in colour because they live in the deserts so they blend into the sand. The dingo I saw had adapted to the dark and often burnt forest.
It’s now a great story I share with others, walking the Bibb gave me daily surprises and this one came extremely unexpected but one I will always remember.