Town under Camel siege

Town under siege: 6,000 camels to be shot – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

There are a million camels in Australia’s outback, and the camels were key to developing it.

And the camels and cameleers of the 19th century came from . . . Afghanistan! The site notes:

‘ Without the Afghans much of the development of the outback would have been very difficult if not impossible. Whole communities, towns, mining establishments, pastoral properties and some well known explorations in the interior have been made successful because of their contributions.

With their camels, who received more publicity than their owners, these cameleers opened up the outback, helped with the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line and Railways, erected fences, acted as guides for several major expeditions, and supplied almost every inland mine or station with its goods and services. These ‘pilots of the desert’ made a vital contribution to Australia.

The first Afghans arrived in South Australia in 1838 when Joseph Bruce brought out eighteen of them, one of whom died on 1 February 1840 . . . The first camel arrived at Port Adelaide in 1840 but was shot in 1846 after it caused the death of explorer John Horrocks. ‘

Afghans get bad press these days, but here is an example of where they contributed to nation-building in the South Pacific, far from home.

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