From the 16th century Muslim Makassan fishermen from Indonesia began fishing voyages to Australia. Aboriginal cave paintings depict the traditional Makassan sailing vessel or 'prau' and Makassan artefacts were found in Aboriginal settlements.
In 1770 the first white, Captain Cook landed. According to Government records the first Muslims settled in New South Wales only 13 years after the colony was formed. Some inter-marriages between Aborigines and Makassans took place and Makassan grave sites exist. Muslim Malay divers were employed in the pearling grounds and by 1875, there were 1,800 Malays. In the 1930s, the Malays built a Musjid in Broome. Another group of Muslims to settle in Australia were the Afghan camel drivers between 1867 and 1910. They handled the hundreds of camels imported and used in the exploration of Australia. Only a few landmarks were named after the Afghans like Bejah's Hill and Kamran's Well, despite their great contribution to the founding of Australia. The only public reminder of the Afghans is in the ‘Ghan’, the name of the famous train that runs from Port Augusta to Alice Springs. In the 1800’s these Afghans constructed shanty ‘Ghantowns’, and built corrugated-iron Musjids. In 1903 a pro-whites law excluded non-Europeans from citizenship; or bringing their families. Many Muslims returned to their homelands. By 1921 there were fewer than 3,000 Muslims in Australia. Then came Muslim emigrants from Albania (1930’s) who worked as casual labourers, displaced Muslims from Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, Hungary and Russia, 10,000 Turks (1960’s) and 16,500 Lebanese Muslims (by 1981).
Now there are more than 60 Musjids in Australia and Muslims are about 1% of the population with most from Turkey, Lebanon, Yugoslavia and Cyprus. 50% of Muslims live in Sydney ands one third of Australian Muslims were born in Australia.