BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Australian High Commission, in collaboration with the Islamic Museum of Australia, on Monday launched a week-long photographic exhibition showcasing the history of Muslim migration to Australia.
Called “Boundless Plains: The Australian-Muslim Connection”, the exhibition will run until February 3 at the Mabohai Shopping Complex — only the third time the collection has left Australia.
“Australia is home to more than 600,000 Muslims from over 120 countries around the world,” said Australian High Commissioner, Nicola Rosenblum, during the exhibition opening.
“This exhibition explores how fishermen from Makassar, Afghan and Pakistani cameleers, Albanian farmers and Bosnian migrant workers all contributed to the development of Australia’s vibrant Islamic community and its traditions today.
“From trader to business owners, artisans to bankers, teachers, doctors, sporting heroes and politicians, our Muslim communities continued to add so much to the social, economic, political and cultural life in Australia”.
In partnership with the Melbourne-based Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA), the exhibit is aimed at providing educational and cross-cultural experiences to its viewers, to give Bruneians a better understanding of the life of an Australian Muslim.
“A lot of people don’t realise that Muslims have a strong connection with Australia, it actually predates European Settlement,” said Sherene Hassan, IMA’s director of Education and Community Engagement.
Sherene said Muslims were one of the first visitors to the Australian continent, beginning with Muslim fishermen from Makassar, Indonesia in the 1700s.
Through the exhibition, viewers will be able to see how these Muslim visitors were able to shape and develop the country’s earliest infrastructures, primarily among the sand dunes of the Australian outback.
“After the Indonesian fishermen, the Afghan cameleers came [and] because Australia is full of desert, camels and cameleers were needed to open up the outback,” said Sherene.
“So they built railway tracks, telegraph lines and they transported supplies all around Australia”.
Boundless Plains will highlight the legacy of these migrants through photographs, from the simple graves of the original cameleers to the replica of Australia’s first mosque built in 1861.
Sherene added that representatives from the IMA will also be touring Brunei, visiting schools, conducting workshops and meeting officials from local museums to build mutual cooperation.
During the school workshops, students can try out the IMA’s new virtual reality experience called “Mecca to Marree”, which will take viewers on a visual journey from Mecca in Saudi Arabia to the outback of South Australia, where the site of the first mosque was built in the country.