Broken Hill North - William Street Mosque

Broken Hill North, NSW


Close to the border of South Australia. Mosque is located at the corner of Williams Street and Buck Street

Broken Hill Mosque
Australia's first mosque was built at Maree in northern South Australia in 1861, the first large mosque was built in Adelaide in 1890, and the first mosque in NSW in Broken Hill in 1887. The mosque was originally located at a camp in West Broken Hill and was relocated to its present site about 1903-1904. It was constructed by the Afghans and comprises a modest structure made from wood and corrugated iron sheeting, painted rust red (which is the colour of the original mosque and a typical colour of Broken Hill). The adjoining anteroom is also constructed of the same materials. The mosque sits on a dusty site at the edge of town, with an avenue of date palm trees, planted in 1965 by the Broken Hill Historical Society. At the entrance of the site are two olive trees which were planted by The Islamic Council of NSW in December 2008. Surrounding the mosque are original camel wagon wheels made from wood and iron used by prominent Afghans in the town; mainly Shamroze Khan and Poujen Khan. To the far eastern corner of the site is the water trough used by the men to make their ablutions before they entered the mosque. Upon removing their footwear the men stood beside the concrete channel as water was poured over their feet and they entered the mosque using specially constructed stepping stones which are now housed in the adjoining museum.

The mosque was well used even when the Ghan community diminished in later years and the few Muslims remaining in Broken Hill continued to use it regularly up till 1940 and then less frequently until the death of the last Mullah in the 1950's. After his death the mosque fell into disuse and was vandalised. Dost Mahomet was a prominent Afghan Camel driver who worked at Broken Hill. He arrived with the camels and later travelled part of the distance and assisted the explorers. His grave lies three kilometres from Menindee, on the road to Broken Hill, and is the first known Muslim person to be buried on Australian soil (Matthews, 1997). At present there are few descendants of the early Afghan families in Broken Hill. The mosque has been renovated and refurnished by members and friends of the Broken Hill Historical Society and the Islamic Council of NSW to mark a unique but important phase in the development of transport in the West Darling district of NSW.

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