Sheiks, Fakes & Cameleers

The Nook - Ground Floor
Free exhibition, no tickets required

Discover the forgotten history of cameleers in Western Australia. Between 1870 and 1920, as many as 20,000 camels and 4,000 men travelled to Australia to help explore and develop the country's arid interior and helped spark the biggest gold rush in the west. Often referred to as "Afghan Cameleers", they came from incredibly diverse nationalities, including Egypt, Iran, India, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan. Despite their important role, they were subjected to discrimination and hostility. 

To coincide with the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Perth Mosque, the State Library is unveiling a new exhibition of collection material which helps unpack the often-mistold history of camel men and their social, cultural and economic contribution to Western Australia. Perth Mosque, located at 427 William Street, was spearheaded by so-called ‘camel men’.

Delve into the origins of South Asian migration to Australia in the late nineteenth century and discover more about these adventurers who built a life and legacy against the odds. 


After seeing the exhibition, continue the journey by downloading this self-guided walking trail and following in the footsteps of the cameleers of WA. 

Discover more...

Riding a camel in front of the Union Bank Port Hedland ca 1910
A Royal Tragedy
WA history
Ameer "Dusty" Dost Mohamet (1904 -1987) oral history. Father was an Indian prince and camel proprietor who met his mother, Annie in Coolgardie. Both of his parents were murdered and his siblings sent to orphanages.
Holding a picture of choir members in the refugee camp of Tanzania where members spent up to 12 years before relocating to Australia
A range of resources and services that the State Library of Western Australia offers to multicultural communities.
SWF Live and Local Promo image
Live and Local 2024
Join us for one of Australia’s most loved forums for literature, ideas and storytelling. A selection of headline events will be live-streamed to the State Library.
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