In the space of roughly thirty years (1890-1920) Abdul Wade (Wahid) created an extraordinary ‘sheikhdom’ based in Bourke that stretched 1500 kms north to Cloncurry in Queensland, and 800 kms west to Maree in South Australia. Almost certainly the most successful camel owner in Australia, Abdul was also one of Bourke’s most colorful characters.
Born Afghanistan in 1866, Wade arrived on West Australian goldfields with his camels somewhere in the 1880’s. He must have been successful because when he next appeared in Maree in 1892, he spent 6000 pounds importing 59 Afghan cameleers and 750 camels.
In 1896 the powerful Pastoralists Union brought Wade to Bourke in an effort to break the monopoly of the Teamsters Union. By 1901 the Bourke Carrying Co. with Wade as General Manager had multiplied its depots in three states, and employed more than sixty men, handling nearly a thousand camels serving the big stations beyond the Darling River.
Abdul had a strong physical presence, and proved forceful when questioned over his employment practices. He argued that his cameleers made it possible to develop inaccessible goldfields and to explore and stock country that would otherwise remain useless.
For more information please contact the Back O' Bourke Information and Exhibition Centre
Kidman Way, Bourke NSW 2840
02 6872 1321