By GREG ANSLEY
CANBERRA - A Queensland mother yesterday told how her 5-year-old daughter had leaped between her 3-month-old sister and a dingo that had crept into their hotel room on Fraser Island.
"I heard my daughter starting to scream when I was in the bathroom but at first I thought she was just messing about and I didn't immediately run out," Belinda Corke told ABC radio.
"Then my husband heard her shouting 'dingo, dingo'. We ran into the bedroom and Georgina was standing in front of her very bravely.
"The dingo was about two feet [60cm)] away from the baby."
After Belinda Corke's husband, David, had chased the dingo from the room, Georgina told Brisbane's Courier-Mail she had not thought twice before standing between the wild dog and baby Scarlett.
"I just yelled out 'dingo' when Mummy and Daddy were in the bathroom," she said.
The incident on the World Heritage-listed sand island off Bundaberg followed recent renewed publicity about the 1980 disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Ayers Rock, now known as Uluru, and has renewed calls for greater caution with animals that killed a 9-year-old boy three years ago.
"The first thing I thought of was Azaria Chamberlain," Belinda Corke said.
Parks and Wildlife Service officers identified the dingo that entered the Corkes' room at Kingfisher Bay eco-tourism resort and will destroy the animal.
The wild dogs, believed to be the last pure strain of dingo in Australia, are protected on Fraser Island and are considered to be of national importance.
But with more than 300,000 visitors a year on the unique island, they have become used to humans and are frequently aggressive, creating problems in balancing management and the booming tourist industry.
The dingo that threatened the Corkes was not afraid of people.
"It was quite nasty," Belinda Corke said. "It stood its ground, too."
A management assessment of the island's dingos three years ago reported about 400 incidents in which the wild dogs had ripped tents, clothes and other equipment, stolen food and circled, snarled and lunged at visitors, at times attacking and inflicting multiple, serious bites.
Feeding dingos can result in fines of up to A$3000 ($3308).
By GREG ANSLEY