Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Back to Beltana

Photographs: Tim Cole

ImageEarly South Australian pastoralist and businessman Sir Thomas Elder is remembered by many Australians as a founder of Elder Smith and Company (later Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort, now trading as Elders Ltd). But the man after whom a major range in the Flinders Ranges is named was also a noted camel breeder who, impressed by the 1865 Burke and Wills expedition, imported 109 camels and arranged for them to be taken from Port Augusta to Beltana Station where he established a stud.

Known for their strength and stamina, the 'ships of the desert' played a major part in opening up early transport routes in the SA outback, and as well Burke and Wills were used by early explorers including Peter Warburton, Ernest Giles and William Gosse.

In June, a recreation of the journey that transported Elder's first camels to Beltana saw 40 cameleers lead 50 camels (including three wagon-drawn animals) from Port Augusta via Stirling North, Depot Creek, Neuroodla Creek and Parachilna.

ImageOver two weeks, the camel train travelled through the Flinders Ranges, averaging 20 to 25km per day. "The changing scenery was spectacular - the sunrises and sunsets," recalls Peter Sims, participant and organising committee member. "Sometimes we'd stop and sit under a big old gum tree in a creek bed and it would come to mind that those guys in 1865 might have sat under the same gum tree and panned out their next move. It was a small thought but it really hit home that those buggers did it tough." Story end

Full story: OUTBACK, October/November 2002

Go to:

Subscribe today

Subscribe now and receive each bi-monthly issue for only $45 mailed to any address in Australia. Overseas rates at Subscription Centre. OUTBACK has been Australia's fastest-growing magazine for the past two years in a row.

R.M. Williams Summer 2004/5 Catalogue

Visit rmwilliams.com.au for R.M.Willams history, news and the on-line product catalogue