The Afghans or Ghans were camel caravaners who worked in outback Australia from the 1860s to the 1930s. There is not much information available about them but they originated from the region between south of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and the Indus River in what is now the state of Pakistan. The Afghans played a major role in establishing Islam in Australia, building the country's first mosque at Marree in South Australia.
The first Afghan cameleers arrived in Melbourne in June 1860, when 8 men arrived with a shipment of 24 camels for the Burke and Wills expedition. Afghans without camels are reported to have reached Australia as early as 1838. Camels were the primary means of bulk transport in the outback (where the climate was too harsh for horses and other beasts of burden) prior to the widespread adoption of motor vehicles. A large population of Australian feral camels remains from this time.
Even though the Afghans' help was greatly appreciated they also were badly treated with racism because of their religion, looks, and competition against traditional transport workers. The train from Adelaide to Darwin is known as "The Ghan" (formerly The Afghan Express) in memory of the Afghans. The total number of Afghans to settle in Australia was approximately 3,000.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2011)|
- Stevens, Christine (2003) . Tin Mosques and Ghan Towns: A History of Afghan Camel Drivers in Australia. ISBN 0-9581760-0-0.
- Bibliography on Camels and Cameleers at the Northern Territory Library.
- The Afghan Camelmen from South Australian History.
- Afghan Cameleers on ABC's George Negus Tonight.
- Pioneering Afghans from Bushmag.
- Afghan cameleers and the colonial era from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
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