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<nettime> History of Afghanis in South Australia
ben moretti on Thu, 27 Jun 2002 08:26:03 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> History of Afghanis in South Australia

Some fascinating material on the history of Afghanis in South Australia. 
Thanks to my friend Hugh Boyd for digging this up. Doubtless the irony 
of the development of much of central Australia being facilitated by 
Muslims would escape supporters of mandatory detention.


Begin forwarded message:

>via Radio National:
>Presented by the social history and features unit on Saturday 
>Coming up this week on Earshot
>"The Marree Cameleers"
>Marree, in the far north east of South Australia, is a small town of 
>less than a 100 people, made up equally of Aboriginals, White 
>Australians, and Afghans. This last group are the descendants of the 
>original Afghan Cameleers, who came to Australia in the mid 19th 
>century - helping to open up the country's arid interior with the most 
>appropriate form of transport for the environment - camels. The story 
>of the Afghan cameleers is interwoven into the larger histories of 
>pastoralism, land expansion, and colonisation in Australia - and yet it 
>is a story that has also,largely,been forgotten. But in Marree, the 
>Afghan community are putting up a fight - they want the story of their 
>cameleer ancestors to be part of the town's heritage, alongside the 
>Indigenous and white Australian history that is reflected in Marree. 
>Producer Dai Le spent some time with the locals in Marree recently, to 
>find out how a small town is dealing with its diverse and richly 
>textured past.
>Saturday at 5:30pm, Repeated Wednesday at 11:30am
>Part One of a report by GRETTA SCADDING
>Muslims are today a barely noticed minority in Alice Springs, the town 
>they helped to build. Before wheeled transport arrived in 1929, 
>countless Afghans sweated and toiled to carry supplies by camel across 
>the desert. Their descendants today have a deep respect for their 
>ancestors. They are proud of their culture and some still practise 
>their religion of Islam. Much, however, has changed over the years. 
>There were originally about 50 Afghan families living in Alice Springs, 
>but many left to go to Marree, Broken Hill and Port Augusta. There are 
>now 35 Afghan families remaining, though the Islam community as a whole 
>numbers about 65 families, including those from India, Pakistan, 
>Bangladesh, and the Middle East. All members of the community are 
>still "given Azan" - the equivalent to the Christian baptism. But many 
>do not strictly adhere to all the five pillars of Islam: prayer, 
>fasting, charity, haj (the journey to Mecca, at least once), and to 
>believe in Allah - God. Praying five times a day has become a trial 
>for many, and there are rarely more than 10 to 15 people at the mosque 
>for Friday prayer. Others indulge in the infidels' habits of drinking 
>alcohol, smoking and gambling. There are now rarely arranged marriages 
>to fellow Muslims. Meride Satour, an Afghan descendant says: "Our 
>grandparents' marriages were arranged, but my husband is a Catholic 
>European: "I drink alcohol, just like my father did. He told Abdul 
>Khan [a respected leader at the local mosque] never to disturb him on a 
>Saturday. "This was his betting day. We have a tradition of 
>respecting your elders so Mr Khan couldn't really say anything!"
>Rachel Warner, whose grandfather was an Afghan camel driver, says: 
>"The Imam, [teacher] from Adelaide, told us What you do in moderation 
>is your business'." For the Muslims here, the mosque, in the new 
>Larapinta area, is supposed to be the hub of community activity, but 
>not for Rachel. "I have never been to the mosque because I believe, 
>like any religion, if you do the right thing, why do you have to go to 
>church? "I believe in God and that is enough." Getting to Mecca on 
>the haj doesn't draw many people either.
>Abdul Khan, who has tried to retain Islamic values in the community 
>since the death of the legendary Sallay Mahomet, says: "We have one or 
>two people at the moment who are hoping to go to undertake the haj. 
>"Even my wife and myself haven't been yet. You shouldn't forfeit your 
>responsibilities to go."
>However, some principles of the Quoran are so deeply respected they 
>remain embedded in the local culture. Many still do not eat pork, and 
>animals are slaughtered so as to produce halal' [certified] meat. Says 
>Rachel: "The problem had been that many of us really didn't know how 
>to kill it." Mr Khan has sorted this out: "We have recently 
>negotiated with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, that we 
>can supply halal meat at the Bond Beef abattoirs." Abdullah Ali, the 
>community's camel slaughterer, says: "It is very important that we 
>give thanks to Allah and release the spirit of the camel before we kill 
>it. "You cut the throat with two strokes of the knife vertically, 
>making sure the blood oozes out, and say. Bis millh Allah akbar,' which 
>means ?In the name of God, God is great.' "It's just like saying 
>grace, as the Christians do." This locally killed meat is also 
>supplied to Muslims in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
>Children are still encouraged to learn about Islam in Alice. "We still 
>have 20 kids here who learn about Islam on the weekends," says Mr 
>Khan. "I'm going to register this as a weekend school with the NT 
>Department of Education. "Everybody is welcome: "Some of the Afghan 
>kids already bring their neighbours. We talk about good manners, good 
>behaviour, Islamic morals and values. "We still wear traditional dress 
>for festivities, and to pray at the mosque," says Mr Khan. Rachel 
>says: "Funerals are traditionally Muslim in all cases. "They involve 
>the whole family helping to fill the hole in with dirt at the end of 
>the ceremony, which starts at the dead person's house."
>There are many reasons why the Muslim community here has found it hard 
>to sustain its faith. Says Mr Khan, a lecturer in mathematics at 
>Centralian College: "Although we experience many freedoms in Alice 
>Springs, work patterns prohibit some of us from attending Friday 
>prayer, which is a great restriction." Muslims have assimilated into a 
>multi-racial community, with many Afghans marrying Aborigines and 
>European Australians Many teachings have been lost because they haven't 
>been taught at home. Says Rachel: "I'm more conscious of being an 
>Australian than a Muslim." Meride says: "My father spoke Arabic, but 
>not to us. The rules are more relaxed here because of the influence of 
>other local cultures." Rachel remembers: "My brother came back with 
>some ham and tomato sandwiches one afternoon. They went out the door. 
>"My brother didn't get punished. We were only made aware of the rules 
>by trial and error, but they weren't really forced on us. "These are 
>modern times and even in the Eastern countries things are changing."
>The transient nature of Alice Springs' population has its impact on the 
>believers in Islam. Says Abdullah: "Many Muslim families come and go, 
>some don't like it that much because there aren't many Muslims here. 
>"Also, there is no resident Imam, or teacher, which makes it difficult 
>to hold it all together. " Says Mr Khan: "I have recently made an 
>arrangement with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils to give 
>us a regular Imam. "He will come up from Adelaide every two months to 
>stay for two weeks in the mosque. "I plan to build a house adjoining 
>the mosque as the Imam's residence, but we haven't got the funding at 
>the moment."
>The Muslim faith has also attracted people from outside the Afghan 
>community. It has particularly enriched Abdullah Ali's life, he says, 
>helping him overcome a history of alcohol abuse and gang warfare. 
>"I've always had an interest in eastern religions," he says. "The only 
>strong one here in Alice is Islam. "I just went to the mosque and 
>that's how it all started. "The great thing about this religion is 
>that it welcomes everyone. There is respect for all cultures and 
>tolerance of all religions." Says Meride: "If a couple gets divorced, 
>the man must take care of the woman until she gets married again."
>Abdullah believes that the Islamic community today contributes 
>positively to life in Alice Springs: "Their work and family ethics are 
>inspiring. "They strongly dislike being on the dole, and are far more 
>forward thinking in terms of business than are other people I have 
>worked with in Alice. "There is more responsibility to the family, an 
>emphasis on building strong marriages, and of course, we have the Camel 
>Cup!" Yet hardly any of the Islamic community has anything to do with 
>camels any more. Many of Meride's immediate family work in 
>broadcasting - in the town's Aboriginal radio station, 8KIN FM run by 
>CAAMA. "Camels are not financially viable. We gave up on them a long 
>time ago. I wouldn't even know how to ride one." The Islamic 
>community here is fed up with outsiders who think of them as fanatical 
>brain-washers. Says Abdullah: "People who are ignorant mock me. It's 
>the same with anything different. "They think you're a terrorist and 
>you're going to pull an AK47 on them, or something."
>Strange Treasures in the Wilderness
>Malcolm McKinnon, April 1997
>I reckon that one of the great myths about the Australian landscape is 
>the myth of predicability and sameness; the notion that there are 
>great stretches of monotonous landscape all over the place that you can 
>just drive through for hours, working hard to not fall asleep at the 
>wheel. The Hay Plains, the Barkly Tablelands, the Nullarbor: these 
>are just a few examples which spring readily to mind. (I once found a 
>Slim Dusty song on the juke-box at Spud Murphy's infamous roadhouse at 
>Pimba, way out in the gibber country in northern South Australia. 
>Emanating from Slim's trucking period in the mid seventies, the song 
>was called Kilometres Are Still Miles To Me, and it's all about the way 
>in which a truckie measures his progress along the routine highways. 
>Really, it's a song about retaining your sanity in the face of the 
>mind-numbing monotony of the white line in the middle of the road. )
>There's a tonne of space out there, characterised mainly by minimal 
>recurrent features (maybe saltbush or mallee scrub, or fence posts and 
>telegraph lines), and broken intermittently by roadhouses and by towns 
>not already by-passed. Even these, by and large, promise relatively 
>uniform attractions: a main street, some drive-in food and fuel stops, 
>toilets, maybe a patch of irrigated greenery. There's a predicability 
>to the design and appearance of these minor oasis's, which is probably 
>why so many civic or entrepreneurially minded locals have been prompted 
>to erect big objects - the pineapple in Gympie, the galah at Kimba, the 
>merino in Goulbourn , the orange at Berri - the list goes on.
>I want to talk in this paper about some less predictable and more 
>memorable environmental anachronisms - things discovered, without 
>warning, in unlikely places. Public artworks (to use the term in a 
>fairly broad sense) which are the fruit of maverick imaginations, 
>working outside of any predictable institutional context. By way of 
>example, I'd like to describe a few of my personal favourites.
>There's a peculiar concentration of these strange embellishments to the 
>landscape along the Oodnadatta Track, an unsealed road stretching some 
>600 kilometres between the small town of Marree and the Stuart Highway 
>in the far north of South Australia. It's an extreme kind of 
>landscape, characterised mainly by huge, relatively unbroken horizons 
>spanning gibber plain, sandhills, salt lakes and low lying, sparse 
>vegetation. The annual rainfall is less than six inches a year. To my 
>eye, it's a phenomenally rich landscape, animated by countless features 
>which become more evident the longer one looks. I've spoken though 
>with many travellers who, upon emerging from their air conditioned 
>four-wheel-drives, deride the landscape as being monotonous and 
>featureless. Even these people, however, are likely to be struck by 
>the surreal aesthetic manifest in the apparitions listed below:
>Specimen no. 1 : Even before you get as a far as Marree, there are 
>treasures to be found in the vicinity of Lyndhurst, 90 kilometres back 
>down the road towards Port Augusta. Cornelius John Alferink (known more 
>commonly as Talc Alf) is a prolific, eccentric and highly skilled 
>producer of carved talc stone sculpture, and his works are on permanent 
>exhibition near the railway siding. Talc Alf collects his regular 
>supply of stone from a site some 130 kilometres east of Lyndhurst which 
>he passes by in the course of weekly mail run to outback pastoral 
>properties. The sculptures range from small carvings made for ready 
>sale to passing travellers to monumental works which encapsulate the 
>artist's peculiar philosophies. Talc Alf includes amongst his major 
>concerns the origins and symbolic meanings of letters in the alphabet, 
>and the recognition of a "true Australian identity." One of his 
>current themes is the assertion that the boomerang should be recognised 
>as humankind's first achievement in space technology. White and 
>pristine, these sculptures at Lyndhurst are, sometimes quite literally, 
>the word in talc.
>Specimen no. 2 : The most famous aspect of Marree's heritage relates 
>to the Afghan camel drivers who made the town a major embarkation point 
>for travel and freight into the dry desert country. Hailing in fact 
>from what is now Pakistan, these camel drivers built a corrugated iron 
>shanty town on what, in socio-economic terms, became the wrong side of 
>the railway tracks. They also built a mosque, planted date palms and 
>intermarried with members of the local communities, both black and 
>white. Some of their descendants still live in Marree, and their 
>legacy is also manifest in two peculiar life size camel sculptures, 
>silhouetted in rusty plate steel at the local school and carved from a 
>solid mass of railway sleepers in a common area beside the now disused 
>railway station. These sculptures proclaim the fact that you're now 
>well and truly in desert country, and project the kind of exotic 
>theatricality worthy of a genuine oasis.
>The Afghan Camelmen.
>Although the number of Afghans coming to Australia was small (no more 
>than 3000) compared with other ethnic groups, their contribution to 
>this country has been much greater than most people realise. Afghans 
>have made a sustantial contribution to South Australia and Australia 
>but history has almost ignored them, and the role they played opening 
>up inland Australia.
>Without the Afghans much of the development of the outback would have 
>been very difficult if not impossible. Whole communities, towns, 
>mining establishments, pastoral properties and some well known 
>explorations in the interior have been made successful because of their 
>With their camels, who received more publicity than their owners, these 
>cameleers opened up the outback, helped with the contruction of the 
>Overland Telegraph Line and Railways, erected fences, acted as guides 
>for several major expeditions, and supplied almost every inland mine or 
>station with its goods and services. These 'pilots of the desert' made 
>a vital contribution to Australia.
>The first Afghans arrived in South Australia in 1838 when Joseph Bruce 
>brought out eighteen of them, one of whom died on 1 February 1840. 
>When Bruce himself died, the men were handed over to John Gleeson, who 
>also had imported some of them. The first camel arrived at Port 
>Adelaide in 1840 but was shot in 1846 after it caused the death of 
>explorer John Horrocks. As early as 1858 it was suggested that camels 
>should be imported into the colony and that a depot should be 
>established for their 'propagation and acclimation'. It led to the 
>formation of the Camel Troop Carrying Company Ltd which unsuccessfully 
>petitioned the govenment for financial aid in October 1858.
>In 1862 Samuel Stuckey went to Karachi to bring out camels. He was 
>unsuccessful that time, but in 1866 he succeeded in bringing out more 
>than a hundred camels and, as nobody knew how to handle camels, 31 
>Afghan cameleers as well.
>Although these, and later camelmen, came from different ethnic groups 
>and from vastly different places such as Baluchistan, Kashmir, Sind, 
>Rajastan, Egypt, Persia, Turkey and Punjab, they were collectively 
>known as Afghans. Most of the men and their camels were first brought 
>to Thomas Elder's station Umberatana, but after a few months most were 
>transferred to Beltana where a camel breeding program was started. Soon 
>the camels and their drivers were transporting materials and supplies 
>to Elder's stations at Blanchewater and Murnpeowie.
>In early 1870 the Afghans went on strike and most left Beltana and 
>moved to Blinman. In 1873 Mahomet Saleh, an Afghan cameleer, left 
>Beltana for Western Australia with explorer P.E. Warburton. Two years 
>later he assisted Ernest Giles on one of his expeditions. J.W. Lewis, 
>surveying the country north east of Lake Eyre in 1874 and 1875 used 
>camels. Later Thomas Elder's teams carried desperately needed supplies 
>for the starving diggers at Milparinka.
>One early arrival was Hadji Mulla Merban from Kandabar, Afghanistan. 
>He came to Port Darwin and acted as leader among the Afghan 
>cameldrivers working for the Overland Telagraph Line. After a three 
>year visit to India and Afghanistan he eventually settled in Adelaide. 
>He married a European women and acted as a peace maker between his 
>country men, once settling a dispute between Abdul Wade and Gunny Khan, 
>two wealthy camel owners. With the completion of the Adelaide Mosque 
>in Gilbert Street in 1888 he also became the spiritual leader of the 
>Afghan community in South Australia. He was buried at Coolgardie in 
>Many of these Afghans did extremely well in their chosen business. 
>Abdul Wade had four hundred camels and sixty men working for him. 
>Fuzzly Ahmed worked the Port Augusta - Oodnadatta line for many years 
>before moving to Broken Hill. Faiz Mahomet, who arrived at the age of 
>22, settled in Marree where he operated as a Fowarding Agent and 
>General Carrier. In 1892 he moved to Western Australia and worked from 
>the Coolgardie gold fields with his brother Tagh Mahomet.
>On 10 January 1896, while Faiz Mahomet was at the Murchison gold field, 
>Tagh Mahomet was shot in the Coolgardie mosque by Goulham Mahomet. The 
>case was reported in most newspapers both in Western Australia and 
>South Australia. The Express and Telegraph called it 'Cold-Blooded 
>Murder, Shot in a Mosque, Killed Whilst at Prayers'. Headlines like 
>these were bound to attract attention.
>Port Augusta Dispatch September 1888.
>Wherever these Afghan cameleers settled, they lived in a separate part 
>of town. Consequently many inland towns had three distinct sections, 
>one for the Europeans, one for the Aborigines and a third section for 
>the Afghans. Their areas became known as Afghan or Ghan Town. There 
>was contact between the Aboriginal and Afghan groups but almost no 
>contact between the Europeans and these two groups. Examples of this 
>are well illustrated in Farina and Marree where even the cemeteries are 
>divided along these lines. Marree, with its high concentration of 
>Afghans, was soon referred to as Little Asia. It also became the 
>centre for inland transport with camel strings leaving regularly for 
>the Birdsville, Oodnadatta and Strzelecki tracks, Broken Hill, the 
>Northern Territory and the Western Australian gold fields. They often 
>suffered from racial prejudice as a result of their religion, culture 
>or the economic competition they provided for a declining number of 
>In 1884 nearly three hundred camels and fifty-six Afghans were landed 
>at Port Augusta. The largest group landed in 1893 when four hundred 
>camels and ninety-four men disembarked. During his election speech at 
>Port Augusta, in March 1893, Alexander Poynton made it clear that he 
>was against the importation of more Afghans and their camels. If 
>elected 'he would put a prohibitive Poll Tax upon them'. A month later 
>it was reported that 94 Afghans had landed at Port Augusta and 'meant 
>business and money getting'.
>Each Afghan community had its own leader. In Oodnadatta it was Abdul 
>Kadir and in Marree it was Bejah Dervish. Bejah, decorated for his 
>military service, came from Baluchistan and later took part in the 
>Calvert Expedition of 1896. In these communities the Afghans continued 
>to live as they had always done, following the Muslim religion and 
>customs. Most Afghans who came to Australia were single or if married 
>left their wives behind as they expected to return wealthy in the not 
>too distant future. Many remained single but others married Aboriginal 
>women. Very few married white women.
>In 1933 Ernestine Hill wrote, 'Within the high tin walls of the Afghan 
>camps in all towns of the north line, white women are living, the only 
>ones in Australia who have blended to any extent with the alien in our 
>midst. Renouncing the association of the women of their own race, they 
>have forsaken their own religion for the teachings of the Prophet and 
>the life of the cities for the desert trail. Several of these have 
>made the pilgrimage to Mecca'.
>In 1880 Sub Inspector B.C. Besley suggested that the police in the 
>north should use camels for the collection of statistics and sensus 
>forms. His suggestion was taken up and camels were from then on used 
>by all police in the north for all kinds of work. The Marree police 
>used camels to patrol the outback until 1949.
>When the camels, who were brought here because they could carry loads 
>of up to 600 pounds over long distances with little food or water over 
>almost any terrain, had outlived their usefulness, they became a pest. 
>Most were shot when found on common land or without a registration 
>disk. In this way hundreds were shot by the police to the delight of 
>the pastoralists. A lasting legacy of the Afghans are the date palms 
>which they planted wherever they went and the Ghan which was named 
>after them.
>If you like to find out more about the Afghans in South Australia, 
>please or email Flinders Ranges Research. We will be able to help, or 
>if you lack the time or expertise research it for you at a competitive 
>Afghan History in Australia
>Since 1860 AD
>Afghan History video clip
>(02 min 32 sec, plays as it downloads, requires Real Player 5.0 plug in)
>The Afghan history in Australia started not 10, 20 or even 30 years but 
>almost 137 years ago. During the 1850s, when it was decided to explore 
>central Australia, horses and other animals were used to cross the 
>country. They all failed to do the task satisfactorily. In 1860, the 
>government of the day decided to introduce camels and men who could 
>handle them in order to link inland Australia.
>Camels and Afghan drivers were employed on survey expeditionsinto the 
>interior. These expeditions were for charting, mapping,or for private 
>geological exploration. circa 1895
>In June 1860, the first three Afghans with 124 camels arrived in 
>Melbourne. According to Cigler (1986), they were 1, Dost Mohamed (a 
>Pashtoon) 2, Baloch (from Baluchistan) 3, Hassan Khan whose origin is 
>not known.
>The major cities of Afghanistan during the Durani period (1747-1863) 
>included Mashad, Karachi, Haydarabad, Ferozepore, Lahore, Sringar, 
>Quetta ,Peshawar, Kabul, Quandahar, Herat and Mazar e Shareef. Karachi 
>was a major import and export Afghan port. Hence, due to proximity of 
>Afghanistan to Australia, it was easier for the British to import 
>camels from Afghanistan instead of the Middle East and Arabia.
>"One early arrival was Hadji Mulla Merban from Kandahar, Afghanistan. 
>He came to Port Darwin and acted as leader among the Afghan 
>cameldrivers working for the Overland Telagraph Line. After a three 
>year visit to India and Afghanistan he eventually settled in Adelaide. 
>He married a European women and acted as a peace maker between his 
>country men, once settling a dispute between Abdul Wade and Gunny Khan, 
>two wealthy camel owners. With the completion of the Adelaide Mosque 
>in Gilbert Street in 1888 he also became the spiritual leader of the 
>Afghan community in South Australia. He was buried at Coolgardie in 
>1897" South Australia Historical Information.
>The Australian cities and towns Afghans worked and lived during 1860 to 
>It is believed that during 1860 and 1930, about 3000 Afghans came to 
>Australia. Most of whom signed a three year contract to work as 
>cameldrivers and labourers. Some of these people went back to 
>Afghanistan after completing their contract, others remained 
>permanently. However, most of them were denied Australian/British 
>citizenship. Almost all of these Afghans came to Australia without 
>their families. Those who remained in Australia, either lived in 
>isolation working as merchants or labourers or got married to 
>Australian or Aboriginal women. Afghans usually lived closer to each 
>other than other nationalities. Therefore, the areas with high number 
>of Afghans was referred to by the community as Ghan Towns (Afghan Town)
> Towns with Afghan History
> Mosques and Madrassas
> Adelaide (SA)
> Yes Est 1888
> Yes
> Alice Spring (NT)
> Yes Est 1993
> Yes
> Beltana (SA)
> Not known
> Yes
> Bourke (NSW)
> Yes
> Yes
> Broken Hill (NSW)
> Yes Est 1890
> Yes
> Cloncurry (QLD)
> Not known
> Yes
> Coolgardie (WA)
> Yes
> Yes
> Dromedary Hill (WA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Duchess (QLD)
> Not known
> Not 
> Farina (SA)
> Not known
> Yes
> Hergott Springs (SA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Jiggalong (WA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Kalgoorlie (WA)
> Yes Est 1901
> Not 
> Lake Harry (SA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Londonderry (WA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Lyndhurst (SA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Mt Serle (SA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Marble Bar (WA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Maree* (SA)
> Yes Est 1882
> Yes
> Meekatharra (WA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Mullorina (SA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Oodnadatta**(SA)
> Not known
> Yes
> Perth
> Yes Est 1905
> Yes
> Port Agusta (SA)
> Yes
> Not 
> Tarcoola (SA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Wilcannia (NSW)
> Not known
> Not 
> Wiluna (WA)
> Not known
> Not 
> Ylagoo (WA)
> Not known
> Not 
>* During the 19th century Maree was commonly referred to as the Ghan 
>Town (Short for Afghan Town).
>** In Hindi Oont means camel and Datta means gift. The town was given 
>its name The gift of the camels.
>Introduction of Islam in Australia
>According to Stevens (1989), Afghans were the founders of Islam in 
>Australia. Although Australia was visited by Muslims from Indonesia 
>and other South East Asian nations before, there was no Muslim 
>organisation or apparent representation existed in Australia. Islam 
>played an important part of Afghans in Australia. Almost every where 
>they went they constructed mosques (small or great). Today many of 
>these mosques are either completely ruined or used as a museum by the 
>local governments. According to Litchfield (1983), the main factor 
>which made Afghans different from any other migrant group in Australia 
>(apart from the race) was their strict practice of Islam (such as 
>praying five times a day). To many Europeans, this so called "alien 
>practice" was a good reason to stay away from Afghans. However, in 
>other areas such as Alice Spring, the coexistence of Afghans and other 
>communities such as Aboriginals and Australians was above the national 
>"Each Afghan community had its own leader. In Oodnadatta it was Abdul 
>Kadir and in Marree it was Bejah Dervish. Bejah, decorated for his 
>military service. In these communities the Afghans continued to live 
>as they had always done, following the Muslim religion and customs. 
>Most Afghans who came to Australia were single or if married left their 
>wives behind as they expected to return wealthy in the not too distant 
>future. Many remained single but others married Aboriginal women. 
>Very few married white women" South Australia Historical Information.
>Many interracial marriages was recorded all around Australia between 
>Afghans and others. This practice was strongly present in towns like 
>Alice Spring (NT) and Maree (SA).
>The 2,900 Km Overland Telegraph Line
>Australia desperately needed a new line of communication with mother 
>England. Before the telegraph line was completed in 1872, the only 
>communication link between Australia and Europe was a monthly mail 
>service called P&O (Cigler, 1986). Afghans and their camels played a 
>historic role in constructing the overland telegraph line between Port 
>Augusta (SA) and Darwin (NT). According to Charles Todd, Superintendent 
>of Telegraph in 1872, "without the Afghans, the southern and central 
>sections of the construction project would have been almost impossible 
>or never completed on time".
>The Famous Ghan Express
>One of the most famous Afghan achievements in Australia is the train 
>link of Port Augusta and Alice Springs known as the "Ghan" rail link. 
>This belongs to the great family of trains that includes the Canadian 
>Pacific, the Indian Pacific and others. The railway was constructed 
>mainly by the Afghans and their camels. According to Fuller (1975), 
>after the completion of the railway in 1889, the South Australian 
>Government in appreciation of Afghan workers gave it the name Afghan 
>Express or Royal Afghan. Today, this rail link is famous by the name 
>Ghan Express (short for Afghans).
>Afghans also helped construct the Trans-continental train line. This 
>linked eastern and western Australia via land from Adelaide (SA) to 
>Perth (WA).
>Afghan Role in Famous Discoveries in Australia
>Afghans and their camels participated in many ventures inland. In the 
>process they discovered new areas and opened the way for migration 
>inland. One of their famous discoveries was in July 19th 1873 in 
>central Australia. An Afghan Camel driver by the name of Kamran with 
>an Australian venturer William Gosse discovered one of Australia's 
>great landmarks, Ayers Rock.
>Ayers Rock in Central Australia
>Languages of Afghan pioneers in Australia
>Most of the Afghans who came to Australia are from Pashtoon, Tadjek, 
>Noristani and Baluchi backgrounds. The reason the British choose these 
>tribes was because they are mostly tall, well built and tough. The 
>main languages of Afghan pioneers recorded by Australian historians are 
>Pashtoo, Dari, Nuristani, Baluchi, Uzbaki, Turkmani and Kirgizi. Most 
>of the documents left behind by Afghans are in Dari. Almost all 
>gravestones in Afghan cemeteries are inscribed in Dari.
>Afghan Descendants Association
>Mr Abdull Khan
>C/o P.O Box 777 Alice Spring 0871, Northern Territory, Australia
>Mr Omar Mohamad
>C/o P.O Box 777 Alice Spring 0871, Northern Territory, Australia
>Tel +61 8 8955 0564
>Mrs Beth Mohamad
>C/o P.O Box 777 Alice Spring 0871, Northern Territory, Australia
>Tel +61 8 8955 0564
>Mr Abdul Fazullah
>Third generation Afghan living in Broken Hill
>Tel +61 8 8087 4164
>Mrs Bebe Nora Bejah
>Third generation Afghan living in Port Augusta (SA)
>Tel +61 8 8642 4776
>It should also be noted that dates were first introduced by Afghans in 
>Australia. The first date palm was planted near Alice Springs in the 
>Northern Teritory.
>Today in Australia there are about 60,000 to 70,000 camels. Camel 
>export is one of Australia's major trades with Saudi Arabia.
>Further Readings
>1. Cigler M (1986) "The Afghans in Australia" Published by Australasian 
>Educa Press Pty Ltd, Blackburn, Victoria,
>2. Stevens C (1989) "Tin Mosques & Ghantowns" Published by Oxford 
>University Press Australia, South Melbourne,
>Victoria, Australia.
> All Rights Reserved Afghan Community In Australasia 
> http://www.afghans.bit.com.au

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