Muslims in Australia have a long and varied history that is thought to predate European settlement. Some of Australia’s earliest visitors were Muslim, from the east Indonesian archipelago. Muslims from Indonesia have been coming to Australia for many years, they made contact with indigenous Australians as early as the 16th and 17th centuries.

Evidence of these early visitors can be found in the similarity of certain words that occur in the language of the Macassarese and of the coastal Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal cave paintings depict the traditional Makassar vessels or ‘prau” and a number of Macassan artefacts have been found in Aboriginal settlements on the west and north coasts of Australia. Marriages between Indigenous people and Macassarese are believed to have taken place, and Macassan grave sites have been found along the coastline.

A ‘humble outback structure’: a former Afghan cameleer’s mosque in Bourke NSW.

Afghan Cameleers

By 1976 the community had grown considerably and the leaders decided to set up a three-tier structure of local Islamic societies at grass roots level, State Islamic Councils as state umbrella bodies and a federal body to be named the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), now known as Muslims Australia. This structure provides for an inclusive organization that represent the diverse Muslim communities of the time and the future.

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