A paddock of camels on the edge of Mount Isa has mirrored the popularity of sunflowers in the outback as tourists and locals head out to take photographs and feed them carrots.
- Paul Keegan’s camels have become a popular attraction for tourists and locals to take photos
- He’s urging people to feed the camels quickly to avoid agitating them
- The Mount Isa Special School has incorporated the camels into its curriculum
The camels are part of Paul Keegan’s network of hundreds of the animals agisted on several properties, some of them more than 400 kilometres away from north-west Queensland mining city.
Mr Keegan spends most of his days laying tiles, and admits the camels are more of a hobby.
“I’ve been brought up with livestock. Since I was a kid we had horses and ponies,” he said.
Social media sensation
His camels on the edge of Mount Isa have become an icon of the city, regularly popping up on Instagram feeds and providing a backdrop for all sorts of photo shoots.
“People have been waiting for it to cool down to come out and do photo sessions,” he said.
Most of the visitors to the camel paddocks show up with a bag of carrots and the animals lunge over the fence to snatch them out of their hands.
“Some of the camels here you couldn’t come near them because they were wild. Now you can put your hands all over their heads because of the attention they get,” he said.
“The idea is to feed them the carrots quickly and get it over and done with quickly, then they all settle down.”
Part of the school curriculum
At the Mount Isa Special School, Lorna Hocking’s class makes regular trips out to the paddocks to feed the camels.
Ms Hockings said the class took photos of students feeding the camels and used them to assist with learning.
“I take a lot of photos, that’s on the Friday when we do it,” she said.
“Then on the Monday when they open their writing book it’s a picture of them with the camel. It could a be a silly photo of them feeding it.
High hopes for the camels
While Mr Keegan had been enjoying the appreciation for his camels, he hoped the more landholders would look at them for woody weed control.
“I’ve been lending quiet camels to graziers to take the flower and seed off the [prickly acacia],” he said.
But the use of camels for weed control is not the mainstream, with many graziers and government departments preferring to use chemicals.
Mr Keegan hoped more research would go into using camels.