Australian High Commission


Australian Muslim Cameleers Exhibition launched at Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

More than a century ago, Muslim cameleers played a key role in opening Australia’s interior. Their stories have been brought to life through a new exhibition, Australia’s Muslim Cameleers Pioneers of the Inland 1860s – 1930, at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM). The exhibition is a collaboration with the South Australian Museum, and will run from 21 October 2011 to 21 January 2012. The Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Miles Kupa, launched the exhibition.

The cameleers brought ancient skills, honed by carrying goods along centuries-old trade routes in Central Asia, including the Silk Road, to Australia. These skills were crucial to the development of the Australian outback.

Records showed that at least 2,000 cameleers and 20,000 camels arrived in Australia between 1870 and 1920. The gold discoveries at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in 1893 greatly increased demand for their services.

The cameleers were early pioneers of Islam in Australia. Today, there are over 350,000 Muslims in the country. Australia’s Muslims form an important part of the country’s rich multicultural society.

Mr Kupa noted that Australia’s Islamic community is incredibly diverse, with Muslims from countries ranging from Malaysia, to Afghanistan, Egypt and Uzbekistan, having settled in Australia. Australian Muslims have excelled across Australian society.

“To name a few: Usman Khawaja , who has Pakistani heritage, recently became the first Muslim to play cricket for Australia. Ahmed Fahour, who was born in Syria, was appointed as CEO of National Australia Bank and is now the Managing Director of Australia Post, and Australia’s Special Envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Hazem el-Masri, who was born in Lebanon, played over 300 games of rugby league for the Canterbury Bulldogs and Australia, and became one of the game’s greatest players.”

Mr Kupa said the High Commission was proud to support this high quality exhibition through its cultural affairs program. “I am also pleased that the Australia-Malaysia Institute was able to provide significant support to the exhibition,” he added.

Date: 21 October 2011 to 21 January 2012

Venue: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Jalan Lembah Perdana, 50480 Kuala Lumpur

Opening hours: 10.00am to 6.00pm from Mondays to Sundays