How to open and close a Cocky Gate

posted in: Getting Started | 2

We interrupt our regular program to bring you something completely different!

Although we still have a few more posts to go in our UK adventure series, Kane and I thought a break may be in order. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing amazing UK fossil locations when you live in Australia.

With that in mind we bring you… the Cocky Gate.


Cockies Gate (2)Cockies Gate (4)














These bastards are an evil invention designed to entertain cockies (farmers) when fresh-faced fossickers come to visit. They are hilarious. There is nothing funnier than pulling up and telling your mate riding shotgun to open one, if they’ve never seen them before. Cockies gates, or farmers gates, are very convenient. They are cheap, easy to make and effective.

First of all you need a big stick (many of life’s problems can be solved this way). In the photo above you can see our ‘big stick’ standing vertical next to a fence post. You can also see our ‘little stick’ at the top, parallel to the barbed wire. In this case the little stick is actually a piece of metal pipe. Throw in a few loops of wire, a couple of support sticks and BAM your gate is done! Sounds simple right? It is. Building a cocky gate isn’t hard- closing it is.

Before we start, understand that a cocky gate is strung under tension with barbed wire, so be very careful when opening it as this tension will be released (and the big stick may fall on you). Also be aware of the condition of the gate- rusty or old barbed wire can snap under tension (potentially into your eye) and cause infection or tetanus if it pierces the skin.


To open the gate:

  1. Pull the little stick and the barbed wire together to slide off the wire loop. Do not allow the lever (little stick) to fall away from its position- this will result in you getting hit by the big stick and the gate collapsing. Reposition your hand over the top of the wire (not shown in photos) and continue to hold the little stick in place with one hand.












2. With the other hand, grasp the top of the big stick and support it’s weight. Very carefully rotate the little stick 90 degrees (so that it is not longer hooked around the big stick) and allow it to fall away. At this point the tension will be released, so make sure you are holding the big stick!













3. Remove the base of the big stick from the post loop and drag the fence out of the way. It is important to keep the fence straight as you drag so that the barbed wire doesn’t tangle (is a real pain to close if the wire gets tangled). Once clear, drive through. Do not drive over barbed wire, for obvious reasons.












Ok so not too difficult right? Now comes the hard part…


To close the gate:

5. Make sure the barbed wire is not tangled and drag the gate back into position. Make sure you are on the correct side of the gate when you close it! This is the funny part of watching someone close the gate- newbies will invariably end up on the wrong side and have to open it again.

6. Put the base of the big stick back into the post loop. Pull the big stick towards the post and give it a few sharp yanks towards the post. This will hopefully pull the support sticks into the vertical position so that you can get the little stick into place in Step 7.













7. Holding the big stick with one hand, grab the little stick in the other and put the short end of it (is this making any sense at all lol?) against the big stick to lever it. If the gate is really tight you may have trouble here. Try to get the support posts as vertical as possible and pull the big stick towards the post, while simultaneously pushing the little stick into place. Sorry I don’t have a photo of this- I needed two hands and was on my own!

8. Once you have the little stick in place (at right angle to barbed wire), let go of the big stick and reverse your body position (whilst still holding the small stick) so that you are facing the big stick and post. Use your body weight to pull the little stick away from the post and around the big stick in a lever-like action (it may slip suddenly into place or need a wriggle). The little stick should now be roughly parallel with the barbed wire. Pull the little stick and the barbed wire together, then secure together with the wire loop (see pics in Step 1). Finally, take a bow! Your work here is done.


Picture 034


2 Responses

  1. Michael

    Just a tip: thank the maker of the gate who puts in place a loop of wire about 30 cm long to make a rectangular shape to stop the loop for the wraparound stock sliding along the strand of wire (especially if it’s not barbed wire). I’ve had the experience of trying to hold the wraparound stick while trying to reach the little loop that’s slid out of arms length. And if it’s not there I’d spend a few minutes wiring one in, if I had a spare piece of wire to hand. Hoped it was appreciated. Oh and even wiring in (or repairing if it was broken) a dropper stick or two to prevent tangling.
    And I have also struggled occasionally trying to get a top loop over the ‘big stick’ when there was no ‘little stick’ installed because the 3 or 4 strand fence part of the gate was strung so tight.
    I’ve seen and appreciated the rare gates that use a lever to loosen and then retighten using a loop threaded through the fixed post, and with a pin hanging off a chain to secure the gate. These cocky gates are Queensland type, wondering if there are differences around Australia.

  2. mick..coffin bay

    Many of these gates on the Eyre peninsula, s.a. have had few laughs watching the untrained open one. Be sure to hang on to the little stick while opening the gate or risk a sharp smack in the jaw from the little stick!!!!!:-)

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