There are quite a few camel farms in Australia where you can experience a camel ride. Did you know that camels aren’t originally from Australia? Find out more about Camel rides and Camel Tours Alice Springs.
Why were camels imported to Australia?
During the 1860s as pioneer explorers raced to map the interior of Australia the camel became their greatest support to get further inland as camels, unlike horses, thrive on desert flora and fauna, not only getting enough nutrition, but also enough water. The first camels arrived in small numbers in the 1840s from the Canary Islands. However, it was George Landells, who had worked in India that persuaded the Victorian Government to allow him to import camels for use in exploration. In June 1860 Landells, 8 highly experienced cameleers (camel handlers) from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and a load of camels arrived Melbourne.
Did they ride camels?
The first exploring party to add camels to their horse team to carry supplies was Burke and Wills. Joining them on their expedition were Landells as ‘officer in charge of camels’ and the cameleers, Samla, Dost Mahomet, Esau Khan, Belooch, and a man from Kelat and 26 camels. All did not go smoothly: Burke and Landells disagreed over the camels’ treatment. By Menindee Landells left and at Coopers Creek depot Dost Mahomet stayed with 16 camels. Only 6 camels remained on the trek to the Gulf; some were lost or abandoned, and on the way back from the Gulf, eaten by the doomed exploration party. Later, Giles and other explorers used the camels for exploration.
Camels’ main task was carrying bulk supplies to outback towns like Alice Springs, mining communities and pastoral stations as well as in the construction of rail and telegraph lines. Camels were also used as a means of transport for outback residents and Aboriginal families.
In 1907, there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in India that stopped camel imports. There was still a demand in Australia for camels, so the Governments in SA and WA established camel depots where they bred and trained camels. Private breeders like Thomas Elder also supplied camels. Approximately 20,000 camels were working at their peak.
From the 1920s camel transport was largely abandoned in favour of road and rail and their numbers grew in the wild. Because they impact of the food chain of native animals and some plant species, camels are today classified as feral or noxious animals.
Attempts have been made in the Northern Territory to establish a camel industry to process camels for meat and by-products, and a live camel export industry. As a desert resource, camels can produce meat and milk in extreme conditions, with less water intake. Their milk is lactose free with three times the amount of Vitamin C than cows’ milk. The fat in their humps can be made into moisturisers and potentially, bio fuel. Several dairies operate in Australia. Overseas, camels are prized for racing, meat, milk, wool and tourism as well as properties in camel blood, urine, tears, eyelashes and other by-products.
Where can you ride a camel in Australia
A popular camel ride is along the beaches of Broome Western Australia, which is where our Marcus Williams, the camel man of Pyndan Camel Tracks learned all about living with camels. Marcus has worked with camels for more than 40 years. He caught his first two herds in the Simpson Desert as wild camels, trained them in the bush, and walked them back to Alice Springs.
Which camels can you ride?
Our camels go to camel school with Marcus over several months before they are ready to join you on your tour. Please meet our trained camels here.
Can you ride a camel in Darwin?
Camels prefer the arid climate; Darwin is in a tropical zone and there aren’t any camel rides. Book a camel tour by clicking here.
Are there camels at Uluru?
There are wild camels in the desert around Uluru. The camel cup held at Uluru is lots of fun and you can have camel rides too.