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Home > Travelogues > 2017 Travelogues Index > Broken Hill, New South Wales 5

Broken Hill, New South Wales - history, mining and art

Heritage buildings

In the 19th and early 20th century Broken Hill was home to a community of Afghans. Afghans worked as camel drivers in parts of outback Australia, and they made a significant contribution to economic growth when transport options were limited. The camel drivers formed the first sizeable Muslim communities in Australia, and in Broken Hill they left their mark in the form of the first mosque in New South Wales (1891), however it was not the first mosque in Australia #.   


Broken Hill's Afghan Mosque is located in Williams Street and is recognised as Australia's first mosque #. It was built in 1891 by a small group of Muslim camel drivers from Afghanistan and India on the site of a former camel camp. It appears that the site was used for worship from 1887. Importation of camels had commenced in 1840 and the first Afghan camel driver, Dost Mahomet, accompanied Burke and Wills in 1860.  The Broken Hill Mosque has historical significance as the first mosque built in New South Wales and the only surviving mosque built by cameleers in Australia #, however this statement also appears to be not entirely correct.    


There were two Afghan camps in Broken Hill, west and north of the town, and each had their own mosque. It is the main north camp mosque which survives today as the Broken Hill Mosque (above right). 


Tours of the Mosque can be taken between 2 pm and 4 pm on Sundays when the Caretaker is in attendance, or by arrangement at other times. Gold coin fee.


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# The first mosque built in Australia was built in 1861 at Marree, South Australia, and a replica constructed in 2003 now stands at the site of the original mosque.

# The Great Mosque of Adelaide was built in 1888-89 by the descendants of the Afghan cameleers. The Adelaide Mosque is the oldest surviving mosque in Australia, and the first to be built in an Australian city. The minarets were added to the building in 1903. 

Hadji Mullah worked with camel teams carrying materials and supplies for the Overland Telegraph Line, completed in 1872. This suggests that he was one of the first of the cameleers to arrive in South Australia from 1865. Retiring to Adelaide, Hadji Mullah wanted a place where cameleers and traders could practice their Islamic faith. Abdul Wade from the Quetta district of Afghanistan became the trustee and builder of the mosque. He was a merchant and cameleer in the area of Bourke in outback New South Wales.

Falling into disrepair, the Adelaide Mosque was restored during the 1950s and is still in use for worship, almost 130 years from its first construction.


Sources: Broken Hill Heritage City 

Broken Hill Afghan Mosque 

Broken Hill Mosque Museum


Adelaide Mosque 

The Afghan Mosque - sometimes called Australia’s First Mosque
Above left the Broken Hill Post Office and clock tower,
corner of Chloride and Argent Street was built 1990 - 1892.  The tower of the Town Hall is in the background. 

The Town Hall at right was built in 1890, complete with an elaborate tower (above right).  When undergoing a rebuild in 1970, the facade and tower of this beautiful building was preserved. 

Soldier memorial

A bronze statue of a World War I Australian soldier in battle-worn uniform, about to throw a Mills bomb, is the centre piece of the monument and is referred to as 'The Bomber', by artist Charles Web Gilbert.


It stands on a cairn of rough cut Harcourt granite and this rests on a platform of three surrounding steps. There are four bronze tablets with the names of 365 fallen from the district.


The memorial is at the corner of Argent street and Sulphide street.



341xbroken_hill_town_hall_turret.jpg 341xbroken_hill_post_office_1.jpg 341_broken_hill_town_hall_3.jpg 341xtrades_hall_dsc_0411c.jpg
Trades Hall at the corner of Blende and Sulphide Streets was built 1898 - 1905, and the classical interior has been retained.  At right and below right.
See our visit to Trades Hall
341_broken_hill_mosque5.jpg 341_broken_hill_mosque3.jpg
Broken Hill's Afghan Mosque (above); the first Mosque built in New South Wales, at the site of the north Camel Camp.  This building underwent restoration in the 1950s, and is still used for worship, with a key being held at the Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre.
The first Mosque built in Australia is believed to have been be at Marree in South Australia.  This has been re-constructed at the original site (above). 
A restored wagon forms part of the outdoor display section of a museum at the Broken Hill Afghan Mosque.   

To the memory of the men of Broken Hill and district

who gave their lives in the Great War 1914 - 1918

Their name liveth for evermore

They were a wall unto us both

By night and day

Reference War Memorials Register 
Follow our visit to Broken Hill and Far Western New South Wales on the following pages