Camels played an important role in the early development of Central
Australia. Today, there are more camels in Australia than anywhere else
in the world. Pyndan Camel Tracks gives visitors the opportunity to
recall this mode of transport from the past by taking a camel ride
through the Liparpa Valley close to the MacDonnell Ranges. A variety of
rides are available.
Pyndan Camel Tracks, Jane Rd White Gums NT 0870. Ph 0416 170 164
Camel rides are also available for visitors to Uluru.
Camels in Central Australia
The first camel in Australia was imported from the Canary Islands in
1840 by Horrock. The next major group of 24 camels came out in 1860 for
the ill-fated Bourke and Wills expedition. The first time the explorer
Giles used camels he travelled 220 miles in 8 days without giving water
to the camels. He later went from Bunbury Downs to Queen Victoria
Springs (WA), a distance of 325 miles in 17 days and gave one bucket of
water to each camel after the twelfth day.
Camel studs were set up in 1866, by Sir Thomas Elder at Beltana
Station in South Australia. These studs operated for about fifty years
and provided high class breeders. Working camels bred in Australia were
of superior quality to those imported. Imports continued until 1907
from Palestine and India as there was a need for large numbers of cheap
animals. An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 camels, imported into
Australia between 1860 and 1907, were used as draft and riding animals
by people pioneering the dry interior.
The camels brought into Australia were almost exclusively the
one-humped camels (Camelus dromedarius) which are found in hot desert
areas and are highly suited to the climate in Australia. Only about 20
of the two-humped camels (Camelus bactrianus) normally found in cold
deserts were imported into Australia. The very big camel teams in
Western Australia and the Centre consisted of 70 camels and 4 Afghans.
Normally they travelled between 20 and 25 miles a day in desert
country. The teams would collectively carry between 16 and 20 tons on
their backs. A large bull camel was expected to carry up to 600 kg, and
small camels from 300-400kg.