The rabbit-proof fence was built to protect Western Australian crops and pasture lands from the destructive scourge of the rabbit. Introduced to Australia in Victoria in the 1850s, the pest rapidly spread across eastern Australia. By 1896 it had been found as far west as Eucla and 200 kilometres further west at Twilight Cove, near Esperance. The fence represents a unique, if inadequate, response to an overwhelming environmental problem.
Construction of the Number 1 Rabbit Proof Fence began in 1901. It stretched 1834 kilometres from the south coast to the northwest coast, along a line north of Burracoppon, 230 kilometres east of Perth. Unfortunately by 1902 rabbits had already been found west of the fence line. The Number 2 Rabbit Proof Fence was built in 1905 in order to stem their advance. Stretching 1166 kilometres from Point Ann on the south coast through Cunderdin, 150 kilometres east of Perth, the new fence joined the original fence line at Gum Creek in the Murchison area. Until the 1920s there were very few rabbits west of the Number 2 Rabbit Proof Fence. Officers patrolled the fence line doing maintenance work using camels, horses and automobiles for transport. It was a solitary, but important job. Western Australia experienced major problems with rabbits beyond the fence line from the 1920s through the 1930s and 1940s. The significance of the Rabbit Proof Fence was reduced in the 1950s following the nationwide introduction of myxymatosis as a method of controlling rabbit populations.