When we go back in time to previous centuries, the majority of the popular fencing styles and construction options up to 1860 were rows of planted trees or hedges. This method of fencing rural farming properties consisted of trees and/or bushes being planted at fixed intervals, or sown, in addition to existing fencing. These styles of fencing were popular for restraining the movement of horses, cattle and sheep (the most popular farm stock at that time). As a result of maintenance required and their ability to harbour snakes and rabbits, they’re more popular in Tasmania. However, many continue to exist in Australia today. Dogleg fences were made up of five walnut or Bulloak (a type of ironwood ) logs per with V-cut shirts and bottoms at the endings. Very similar to a chock-and-log fence, this generally enabled the logs to sit safely above one another. On frequent occasions, the horizontal rails would be fixed to living trees instead of posts.
The sturdier post and rails of early-day farm fences used multiple spans of eucalyptus trees approximately 600 mm in diameter, buried 900 mm into the ground, with the above-ground fence height varying between 1.2 to 1.8 metres. Stout saplings were subsequently placed over two panels and joined securely to the tops of their articles. Rails were set close together to make sure durability of up to 30 decades.
The most effective method of building these would be to bury the large diameter fence posts 900 mm into the ground, spacing them 10 metres apart, string wire between them, and then support them using five or four non-load-bearing posts. Lighter strength poles & forks fencing (aka Cockatoo Fence) were constructed using smaller eucalypt saplings. This would then be reinforced using smaller saplings as the intervening horizontal railings. This type of fencing was suitable for poultry and smaller animals. In more modern times, tractor-mounted post drivers dramatically decrease the time required to erect fence posts.
Fork trestles were subsequently fashioned every nine feet, a railway placed in the fork and then another placed on top. A continuous trench of two to about three feet was subsequently dug and the timber stood upright initially. Split timber posts were erected at a thickness of at least two feet, and cable was strained between the poles. Brush or deadwood fences were the oldest and most primitive types of Australian structures and contained trees and shrubs that were felled during the clearing of bushland. These very rudimentary fences were created by dragging the small felled timber into a long row and simply stacked on top of the other. To fill the gaps, the smaller, and more flexible branches were then forced into the gaps where they were somewhat inter-woven.
To strengthen the foundation of the fence post, the earth was then shovelled into the gaps around the fence posts and rammed tightly to form a solid foundation for the addition of further lighter vertical posts and the horizontal fence railings. The intervening rails and posts were then wired or nail-fastened. In the 1860s and 1870s, Australian farming history reached another degree when brush fences were eliminated by chock-and-log fences. But, this didnt suit all locations, nor all available forest timbers. This fencing required very straight timber that allowed equal sizes of diameter and length to be harvested. This style of fencing required inserting 4 posts into the ground, aligned to the direction of the line of the fence. Cuts were then made into the posts and wooden chocks inserted to provide a base for the next horizontal rail to be inserted. This rail was then fixed in place by hammering an angled piece of timber (known as the chock)into place. This process was continued until sufficient horizontal rails had been inserted so as to form a completely stock proof fence when the fence was made of heavy wood (the preferred has been Murray Pine, known as Pinus Radiata), those totalled five feet in height and were extremely durable.
Galvanised wire was introduced as a fencing material around 1857 (hence post-and-wire fencing). However, it did not gain popularity until later years because it had been quite pricey. Another crucial development in the history of fencing in Australia has been the introduction of barbed wire commencing in the 1880s. This was a much simpler type of fencing (allowing much more time-effective fencing to be carried out) From the late 1800s this became the standard method of erecting rural fencing in Australia.