- Copyright © Simon Bayliss 2008-20 Simon Bayliss
- Last Updated: 21 January 2020 21 January 2020
- Visitors: 3458 3458
In 1882, severe drought on the Albert Goldfields caused near-famine for the miners and settlers of the district. The Darling River ceased to flow, and the paddle steamers were prevented from carrying stores to Wilcannia. Horses and bullocks were unable to use the road to the goldfields because of the terrible conditions. Essential food supplies were in desperately short supply.
Just as the situation became critical, relief arrived from the west, with the first-ever camel teams arriving from Farina on the Transcontinental telegraph line. Following a previously un-marked track, the route took the teams around the northern end of the Flinders Ranges and across the lower reaches of the Simpson-Strzelecki Dunefields. Then, following the Yandama Creek eastwards, the Mount Browne Hills were visible in the distance. Almost 100 kilometres of the track was originally waterless.
Thereafter, for almost five decades, the camel became an integral part of the transport industry in the Corner Country. With up to 60 animals the camel teams were used on routes to Wilcannia, Bourke and Broken Hill.
The route to the west became known as the Mount Browne to Hawker Road. It was regularly used as teams loaded with goods from the rail network in South Australia for transport to New South Wales, or returned loaded with wool. The journey was more than five hundred kilometres and took over a month.
At times their arrival into towns was procession-like, with the Afghan drivers dressed in multi-coloured silk shawls and turbans.