A camel in Australia?
Many would be astonished by that very statement. Little do they know, their astonishment comes from ignorance of a very interesting history that we are about to delve into.
As of today, the Australian Outback is home to a shocking number of wild camels. According to the Feral Scan, a government-supported website, the current numbers of feral camels are between 1 and 1.2 million, which is shocking. It’s a true wonder how rehab motorways here aren’t continuous camel parades.
So how did these non-native animals get to this point?
Now, the history of camels goes back a long, long way, to the good ole pioneering days. With the Australian Outback spanning over 6 million square kilometres, a space almost twice the size of India, the massive area coverage of barren lands is home to some of the harshest environments in the world.
The exploration of the Australian Outback started from the late 1700s onwards, once coastal Australia was settled by the British. The desire to cover extreme distances meant that explorers had to find a different solution to horses and bullocks. And so the camel was introduced.
Between 1870 and 1920, approximately 20,000 camels were brought into Australia from India, Afghanistan, and the Arabian Peninsula. Most of the camels were dromedaries, with half ton ungulates and a single hump, making them suited for the Australian Outback climate. They could go weeks without watered and had the strength and stamina to carry heavy loads and riders across merciless landscapes.
When the arrival of the internal combustion engine came in the 1930s, the camel industry flopped. Put simply, these magnificent beasts were no longer useful, and were certainly no match for motorised vehicles.
As a result, thousands of camels were released in the wild, given their redundancy in the industry. Naturally, they thrived, which meant numbers growing exponentially to date.
Where can you see a camel in Outback Queensland?
One of the most popular places to see a camel in Outback Queensland is Mount Isa.
Paul Keegan’s camels in Mount Isa have quickly become as popular as sunflowers in the Aussie Outback. With tourists and locals heading out to take photos with the camels, and to feed them carrots, now is your opportunity to see a camel in Outback Queensland.
Running a camel farm is more of a hobby to Mount Isa local, Paul Keegan. Having been brought up with horses, ponies, and other livestock, his affiliation with animals was cemented when he first came across camels 30 years ago.
After decades of breeding camels, with many of them scattered across different properties up North West Queensland, the big show seems to be happening in Mount Isa, with regular trending photos popping up on Instagram featuring his magnificent beasts.
From tourists to models who want to book in photo sessions with camels, the demand to see them is high.
Many visitors show up with bags of carrots, and the camels will typically lunge over to snatch them out of their hands. According to Mr Keegan, the trick to being on the good side of camels is to feed them quickly to avoid them getting frustrated. Once fed quickly, the camels will settle down just as easily.
Feral camels won’t come near people, as they are wild and unfamiliar with humans. Paul Keegan’s camels, on the other hand, are friendly and will tolerate having their heads touched all over as a result of their exposure to so many people through years of attention.
Some classes from the Mount Isa Special School make regular visits to the camel paddocks to feed them. These camels in Mount Isa are used as learning assistance in the classes, by taking photos and showing the kids their interaction with the camels.
Mr Keegan says that camels are extremely effective at woody weed control, with the ability to take flowers and seeds off prickly bush plants, such as acacia. He lends quiet camels to graziers and hopes that landholders will identify their unique skill set and use them more in weed control.
Accommodation and dining in Mount Isa
When visiting the camels in Mount Isa, set yourself up at the Redearth Boutique Hotel for a luxuriously comfortable stay. From first class customer service to impeccable room conditions, with pressed bed linen that is soft and welcoming, you are guaranteed a restful night when settling in at the Redearth Boutique Hotel.
When it comes to dining in Mount Isa, you’ll be happy to know that the best dining experience is within the establishment. The Redearth Restaurant acts as a leader in Mount Isa for innovative cuisine, focusing on exciting culinary delights that combine freshness, flavour, and presentation. Offering an intimate setting that is beautifully decorated, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. With wait staff that offer first class service, followed by exquisitely decadent meals that will surely impress, experience the best of Mount Isa dining at the Redearth Restaurant.
Banner image credit: Track Trailer