The CITE is ideally located in South Australia, where the oldest permanent mosque in Australia stands. The Adelaide mosque was built in 1888 by Afghan and North Indian camel drivers, otherwise known as ‘the cameleers’.
Arriving in Australia in the mid-1850s, the cameleers were instrumental in the exploration of the Australian interior, and along with their camels became the backbone of the Australian economy. Among the first cameleers were those who arrived in 1860 for the Burke and Wills Expedition which were the first to cross the continent from South to North.
The cameleers pioneered a network of trails and tracks that later became today’s roads, linking towns, stations, mines and missions all across the outback. They also operated supply and equipment trains during the development of the rail link between Port Augusta and Alice Springs, which became known as the Afghan Express, and later the Ghan. The cameleers were Muslims who adhered faithfully to their religion and built mosques wherever they settled. Few centuries prior to the cameleers, Muslim fishermen from Makassar, Southern Sulawesi in Indonesia, traded peacefully with the Aboriginal people of mainland Australia and related Island communities of Northern Australia.
The Yolngu people of Arnhem Land had regular contact with the Makassans to such an extent that many cultural and linguistic influences are evident, and the Makassans are frequently referred to in the Yolngu dreaming narratives.
In the spirit of the many Nations and language groups of Australia’s first peoples, and the waves of migrants since, we welcome you to the Centre for Islamic Thought and Education (CITE).