Australian Exhibition Honours Muslim Pioneers

December 11, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Associated Press

An exhibition opening in Australia on Wednesday pays tribute to the often ignored contribution Muslim camel drivers made to opening up the dry centre of the vast country in the 19th century.

More than 2,000 cameleers and 15,000 camels arrived from Afghanistan and northern India or modern Pakistan as a mid-1800s gold rush accelerated exploration of Australia's rugged interior.

But their contribution has not always received the attention it deserves, the National Library of Australia says in an introduction to its exhibition "Pioneers of the Inland: Australia's Muslim Cameleers."

"Cameleers assisted all major expeditions into Australia?s uncharted interior, starting with the Burke and Wills expedition in 1860, and have contributed significantly to Australia?s economic and cultural development," said curator Philip Jones.

"In the era of heroic exploration, the Muslim cameleers were rarely given adequate credit for their achievements. Expedition diaries confirm that several cameleers deserve the status of explorers."