CAMELS IN THE OUTBACK
As the sun sets on Uluru, drink and dine beneath the stars at the Sounds Of Silence dinner after arriving in the most iconic way – by camel. Along the way, the cameleer guides at Uluru Camel Tours will tell you all about the flora, fauna, and their herd of friendly dromedaries. Whenever the farm needs another for the stable, they go out and capture one.
Camels were first introduced to Australia in 1840. That year, a sole survivor from an order of nine arrived from Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Camels soon became instrumental in carrying goods across the continent. They could take desert heat and heavy loads with little water and travel into regions where railways did not reach.
The first cameleers were called Afghans, though these laborers most likely originated from what is now western Pakistan. Camel teams consisted of 70 camels and four Afghans who were excellent at loading packs and travelled up to 40km per day under the relentless sun. A large camel could carry up to 600kg, but the record belongs to one immense bull who was loaded and stood with 1,500kgs on its back. The camel took three steps, collapsed and died, but the owner won the bet. Or so the story goes...
As reliance on pack camels declined in the 1920s, so did the Afghans’ importance and they disappeared – most returning to their ancestral homelands. But first, they set their camels free.
They are now considered a feral pest and a controversial national camel cull recently spent $19 million to eradicate 160,000 of them. Today, an estimated 200,000 wild camels still roam the Australian Outback.