The first camel in Australia was imported from the Canary Islands in 1840 by Horrock. The next major group of 24 camels came out in 1860 for the ill-fated Bourke and Wills expedition. The first time the explorer Giles used camels he travelled 220 miles in 8 days without giving water to the camels. He later went from Bunbury Downs to Queen Victoria Springs (WA), a distance of 325 miles in 17 days and gave one bucket of water to each camel after the twelfth day.
Camel studs were set up in 1866, by Sir Thomas Elder at Beltana Station in South Australia. These studs operated for about fifty years and provided high class breeders. Working camels bred in Australia were of superior quality to those imported. Imports continued until 1907 from Palestine and India as there was a need for large numbers of cheap animals.
An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 camels, imported into Australia between 1860 and 1907, were used as draft and riding animals by people pioneering the dry interior.The camels brought into Australia were almost exclusively the one-humped camels (Camelus dromedarius) which are found in hot desert areas and are highly suited to the climate in Australia. Only about 20 of the two-humped camels (Camelus bactrianus) normally found in cold deserts were imported into Australia.
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