photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum
This image from about 1890 shows an Afghan camel train on the road to Wanaaring in outback New South Wales. Wanaaring is to the north-west of Bourke in arid ‘red dirt’ country where camels were an ideal form of transport before railways and trucks took over.
The term ‘Afghan’ is something of a misnomer, as few if any of the drivers were from Afghanistan. Most came from the north-west frontier tribes of India, including the Baluchis and Pathans, while the camels were shipped from Karachi (former capital of Pakistan). Some camel trains numbered twenty, forty, or even eighty animals. The camel drivers were extremely competent and had great knowledge about the care of the camels that Europeans of the time failed to master.
Reference: On the move: a history of transport in Australia by Margaret Simpson, Powerhouse Publishing, 2004.
Post by Lynne McNairn
Photography by Kerry & Co. Tyrrell Collection (85/1284-765).
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