School of Arts

Heatheranne Bullen

CRCAH masters candidate

Why is there a camel man on the Australian $20 note? Examining the interactions and connections between indigenous and non-indigenous people in a remote area of Central Australia in the early 1920s


In 1919 a thirty-four year old minister from Melbourne travelled by train to Oodnadatta in outback South Australia to take up a three-year post, as a padre, for the Australian Inland Mission. After disembarking at Oodnadatta in the north of South Australia, his mode of transport was a string of camels with an Aboriginal tracker leading the way. The First World War had just ended, the soldiers were returning, and the influenza pandemic was spreading to the inland. Drawing on primary documents, including an extensive photo collection and correspondence from the padre and an AIM nurse, this thesis will examine the connections between photos, story, people, places, events and will also examine the interactions between individuals, groups, their roles,health, medicine, foods, transport and communications in the context of are mote settlement in Central Australia in the early 1920s.

In answering the question: 'Why is the camel man on the Australian $20 note?' His story will shed light on a relatively unknown,yet important group of people in Australia's frontier history.

Publications and conference papers

Heatheranne is in the process of writing a book, a micro history of outback Central Australia in the early 1920s, conveyed through the eyes of the camel padre and a nurse, and enhanced by an extensive photo collection.

She has completed several research trips, to South Australia and Northern Territory, to retrace the padre's journeys, to identify places, photographs, and for deeper investigation of the primary data.

Heatheranne has also delivered several presentations including three related to the work of the camel padre.

Other relevant information

Before transferring to work with adult learners both as a trainer and supervisor, Heatheranne was a secondary school teacher for 20 years.