People don’t associate camels with typical Aussie wildlife but they are very much part of the Australian outback.
During the last four decades of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th, Afghan cameleers formed the core of every major expedition into Australia’s central desert region and provided transport and communication links with sheep and cattle farms, mining projects and religious missions on the desert fringe. Their camels, which foraged on semi-desert plants and could go for days without water, were faster and cheaper than horse or bullock transport.
As the demand for this transport increased, hundreds of Afghans travelled to Australia on three-year work contracts. Low wages—in the 1880s between £3 and £4 a month or about a quarter of the amount paid to bullock team drivers—ensured that most remained in Australia. Many married and established families. Afghan settlements, later known as Ghantowns, sprang up around shipping ports and outback railheads in South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.
There are now significant populations of wild camels in various parts of Australia. Some are exported back to the Middle East as they are very healthy diverse stock and do well in the camel racing industry. Some end up as roadkill and others as camel burgers.