For a unique problem, there was a unique solution ... camels.
In the mid nineteenth century the Victorian Government imported 24 camels from India, and Afghan cameleers were enlisted to bring their nomadic skills to open the way into the very centre of the continent. Three cameleers accompanied the Burke and Wills expedition of 1860.
In succeeding years, the camel teams were the backbone of inland exploration. By the end of the century, there were more than 6,000 camels at work in Australia. It was the contribution of camel teams that made possible such momentous leaps forward as the Overland Telegraph Line (see the Charles Todd feature), begun in 1870. The success of this venture produced a surge of optimism.
The next goal - the building of inland railways - provided a new challenge for the camel teams that padded across the desert to lay the foundations of Australia's great transportation network. Ironically, it also marked the beginning of their decline as an integral part of that network.
Source: Booklet accompanying the 1997 Masterpieces in Silver - The Opening of the Continent - Set.
Camels are featured on the following Australian coins: