State Library’s Cameleers exhibition explores forgotten histories

  • New State Library exhibition explores the history of WA’s earliest cameleers
  • Between 1870 and 1920, as many as 4,000 men and 20,000 camels journeyed to Australia, including the Goldfields
  • Free launch event and panel conversation at the State Library on 18 April 2024

A new exhibition at the State Library of Western Australia follows the trail of cameleers who left a significant cultural and economic legacy in Western Australia.

Camels and those who cared for them were a familiar sight along the tracks connecting Australia’s outback to the coast 150 years ago.

Often referred to as ‘Afghan Cameleers’, they came from diverse nationalities including Egypt, Persia (Iran), India, Trkiye, Syria, Afghanistan and what is now Pakistan.

Sheiks, Fakes and Cameleers seeks to overcome stereotypes and misconceptions of these hard-working explorers and entrepreneurs.

The exhibition coincides with the 120th anniversary of the founding of the Perth Mosque, Australia’s second oldest continuously functioning mosque. Located in William Street, Northbridge, Perth Mosque was initially funded with donations from cameleers and Muslim merchants from across the State.

The exhibition will be launched on Thursday, 18 April 2024 with a panel conversation featuring researchers, historians and families of cameleers whose stories are shared in the exhibition.

Visit the State Library website at to register for your free ticket.

As stated by Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman:

“The State Library continues to bring its collections to life through free exhibitions and events.

“Sheiks, Fakes and Cameleers explores the significant contribution of cameleers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, most of whom were migrants from diverse backgrounds.

“The exhibition uses objects, letters, photographs and documents from the State Library’s vast collections to share the often-misunderstood story of these important historical figures who built a life and legacy here in Western Australia.”

/Public Release. View in full here.