The Broken Hill Mosque was the heart of the ‘Camel Camp’, the recreational and spiritual domain of the Afghan Cameleers, and a vital community hub for those who provided such a valuable service to the early pioneers of the Far West of NSW.
The cameleers were known as Afghans but few came from Afghanistan, many came from areas of what is now modern day Pakistan. They were mainly single men or had left their wives back in their homelands. Some married European or Aboriginal women and raised children in the Islamic faith.
They built a number of mosques for their worship in outback regions including a second mosque in West Broken Hill. Though there were two Afghan camps in Broken Hill, only the former North Camel Camp Mosque survives. In fact the Mosque in Broken Hill is the only surviving Mosque built by cameleers in Australia.
It was important because apart from the religious use where members prayed multiple times every day, it also provided a valuable community hub. There were the usual religious ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, but it was also an important meeting place to discuss all manner of topics from business to resolving personal disputes, (usually in a peaceful fashion, though not always).
The Mosque and Anteroom are constructed of corrugated iron and wood and painted red. Palm trees lead to the entrance and the alcove points towards Mecca. There is a water trough outside the building where worshipers traditionally washed their feet before entering the place of worship.
Inside the Mosque visitors can see display cases containing objects relating to the history of the Afghan community in Broken Hill along with photographs.