Camel West – riding along Elizabeth Quay
Riding a friendly camel along Perth’s shiny new waterfront development Elizabeth Quay, with Camel West, is the latest fun thing to do in this rapidly developing tourist spot. The sunniest of all Australia’s cities, you can now fly directly to Perth from London on Quantas. In our darker months the long sunny days and laid back lifestyle are a real attraction to winter weary Brits.
Jon Warren rounded up a small caravan of wild camels, he caught himself on the Nullarbor Plain. He has trained them to take tourists on a ride through Elizabeth Quay, and along the Swan River foreshore. The cameleer was inspired to start the business about 18 months ago, when he heard Perth was about to get a glut of new hotel rooms. Tourists in the city would need something to do.
Camel West – the Australian story
Camels formed a big part of Western Australia’s heritage. Most of the camels from yesteryear actually came in through the port of Fremantle, imported from the Canary Islands. They were used extensively in Western Australia from the late 1800s through to the early 1900s.
Imported camels were used in early explorations like Burke & Wills. They also helped develop major infrastructure of the time such as the overland telegraph, the Ghan Railway, the Trans Australian Railway and the Kalgoorlie Pipeline. Camels were also used to open up much of the pastoral inland, and by prospectors looking for gold until the 1920’s, when the motor vehicle and steam trains began to take over.
Camel west – your camel today is..
The camels in our Camel West caravan are Blister, Big Red, Black Jack, and Mr Pink. They used to be part of the largest population of wild camels in the world. That is before Jon rounded them up on a motorbike into a pen and picked them out as suitable candidates for his troupe.
Gemma, the lead camel in the train, is actually an ex racing camel. Luckily, she was pretty laid back the day we took our ride and it was a steady walk all the way. The camel walking tour is supervised by Jon and his able assistants, Ashlee and son Jack.
The route takes you along the Swan River, through the canary island date palms, past the Bell Tower, through Barrack Square at Elizabeth Quay and back again. It lasts about 30 minutes and the new purpose built saddles are really comfortable.
How to train a camel
Jon, our intrepid cameleer spent his early life on sheep and cattle stations where camels occasionally visited him. Camels are feral animals in Australia and no one actually owns them. If you can find a mob of them and feel up to the job, you can wrangle one your very own!
Our camels were only ten months out of the wild, but were already fully trained and had graduated from Camel finishing school. They live in the Swan Valley, out in the countryside. Jon’s aim is to bring Camels back into everyday Australian life. He wants to educate people on their amazing history, while showcasing beautiful Perth at the same time.
Camel Wild West
The large camel population in the wild is starting to cause a problem with the environment here. Camels are very successful at surviving in desert conditions. However, they do tend to eat everything, leaving slim pickings for the native wildlife.
Consequently, alternative uses for these hardy ruminants are starting to emerge. Some camels are sold back to the Saudis mainly for breeding, as the Australian population is largely disease free. Some may end up in camel racing or, if they are particularly attractive, camel beauty competitions at the camel festivals there.
In Australia, camels are kept for their milk which is good to drink. It also has properties which are beneficial for both digestion and ailments like IBS. Camel milk also makes a gentle soap and moisturiser. These are great for skin conditions like eczema. Check out Dromedairy website for more details on camel products.
Camels are cool
Camels are incredible animals. They can go for seven days without water and weeks without food. They have earned their place here in Australia. Our Camel West gang certainly looked like they were a happy bunch. They are now breeding some of their own new baby camels too.
If you are down under in Western Australia at any point, I can recommend a visit to Elizabeth Quay and a spot of camel riding. Camel rides costs 45 AUD for an adult with concessions for seniors, students and children.
Check out what else is at Elizabeth Quay – Willie Creek Pearls