Camel(S) of the Day 24-11-2019

When camels had been used to put in place the structures that would make it possible to live without camels, the Australians got rid of them (this has also happened in the Arab world, as we’ll see in the future).  There were a very large number of camels doing lots of different types of work though, and a few were bound to get away and breed in the very big Australian deserts.  And many were set free by their ‘ghan herders.

Amongst their descendents are those racing in this picture, at the annual Alice Springs Camel Cup.

There’s not quite the same speed or scientific approach as is the case in Arab camel racing.  The Australians don’t like to think of camels as natives, but as quirky foreigners, so there’s no need to worry about being good at it.  Thus the Camel Cup’s own homepage advertises the annual event by saying “Racing a camel is not so easy for a rider and handler, and that’s why it’s so exciting to watch.” Personally, I’d prefer to watch racers and riders that knew what they were doing, but that’s just me.

For those who share my preference for competence, check out this beautifully composed shot, also from Alice Springs, by Mike Young.

Through most of history, camels haven’t really been best used for riding, but for their ability to walk with the vast amounts of stuff humans need to survive in the harshest of climates.  So the statue featured here does the reality of camel history a slight disservice – though, unlike the case with Gordon “of Kartoum”  no actual camels were persecuted in order to cast it. 

It does a rather greater disservice to the cameleers, who are remarkable both by their absence and by their replacement by a woman riding side-saddle.

Perhaps we can see a little more clearly how central the camel was to the building of Australia as a nation in this picture, showing exactly where this town is that the camels carried the rails through.


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