Australia's Muslim Cameleers
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Contractors to entrepreneurs

Most Afghani and north Indian cameleers arrived in Australia on short contracts of two or three years. During the late 1860s and 1870s these contracts were with Thomas Elder’s pastoral company, based at Beltana in South Australia’s north. By the late 1870s, Elder’s head jemadar, or camel foreman, Faiz Mahomet, had established his own company. He was a pioneer among Muslim camel entrepreneurs in Australia.

Enterprising Europeans soon realised there was money to be made in the camel business. One of these men was David Lindsay, who led an 1885 exploring expedition accompanied by Joorak Mahomed, and the 1891–1892 Elder Exploring Expedition, accompanied by five Muslim cameleers. During 1892 Lindsay attempted to establish an independent camel-carrying business in competition with Faiz Mahomet, who had supplied the Elder Expedition’s camels. Lindsay found that he could not succeed alone and formed a partnership with the camel entrepeneur Mahmoud (Muhammad) Hassan at Port Augusta. The pair imported 130 camels from India later that year.

Biographies

Cameleers who worked for Faiz and Taj Muhammad:

Key:   Portrait available.   CEDT download available.

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