Dervish Bejah

Ray Bean didn’t just travel in 1948 for Walkabout Magazine. He did some extensive travel in 1947 as well and seems to have still been working with Walkabout Magazine as late as 1951, possibly even later, with some of this photos still being used well into the 1960’s. Over all Ray has photographs that were being used by Walkabout Magazine from 1941 right through to around 1965.

Whilst travelling and photographing for Walkabout Magazine Ray met a number of amazing people who were historical figures in their own right. One of these was Dervish Bejah.

Title : South Australia, Marree - Bejah Dervish. National Archives Australia. [Photographer, R Bean.] Date : 1947 Image no. : M914, SOUTH AUSTRALIA 3510 Barcode : 834513 Location : Melbourne Find other items in this series : M914 Series accession number : M914/1

Title : South Australia, Marree – Bejah Dervish.
National Archives Australia. [Photographer, R Bean.]
Date : 1947
Image no. : M914, SOUTH AUSTRALIA 3510
Barcode : 834513
Location : Melbourne
Series accession number : M914/1

Dervish Bejah was a camel driver, was born in Baluchistan, India (now Pakistan).  Dervish Bejah served in the Indian Army at Kandahar and Karachi under Lord Roberts and eventually attained the rank of sergeant. Dervish Bejah arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia in the 1890’s.

In 1896, Lawrence Wells was appointed to lead the Calvert Scientific Exploring Expedition through the central deserts of Western Australia from Mullewa to Derby. In May he left Adelaide by sea, with Bejah as the ‘Afghan’ in charge of camels. The trip was an incredibly hard one and over the course of the journey Lawrence came to rely heavily on Dervish Bejah.

The members of the party trekked through baron desert with little water. It was Dervish Bejah’s role to gather greenery for the camels and to feed them where available. But this fails to detail just how important Dervish Bejah was to the success and well-being of all members of the party including both men and camels. When the camels were failing due to the lack of water Dervish Bejah would run beside them rather than have them carry him so as to help spell them for a while. He would also go without food when they were unable to get food for the camels. Dervish Bejah had detailed knowledge of how to care for his animals and survive in an area such as the desert.

As the trek continued the party split up with Lawrence Wells and Dervish Bejah taking a different route to others on the trip. Not all members of the trek survived and on the 27 of May 1897 the bodies of two of the party who had not continued on with Lawrence Wells and Dervish Bejah were discovered.

Later in life Dervish Bejah settled at Hergott Springs (Marree) and bought land there. He later married Amelia Jane Shaw; they had one son, Abdul Jubbar (Jack). The family continued on at Marree. The area had a large Afghan camp with thousands of camels and a corrugated iron mosque. The first mosque built in Marree was constructed as early as 1861 to service the Afghan community in Marree, many of whom were Muslim. Over the years two Mosques were built, one at either end of the town. One of these was abandoned in 1910 and the other destroyed in 1950, just three years after Ray photographed it. A new mosque was built in the area in 2003.

By 1947 when Ray Bean was in Marree Dervish Bejah had been retired for a number of years. Ray took photos of both Dervish Bejah and the Marree Mosque. Dervish Bejah passed away on the 6th of May 1957 in the Port Augusta Hospital.

South Australia, Marree - The Mosque. [Photographer, R Bean.] National Archives of Australia. Date : 1947 Image no. : M914, SOUTH AUSTRALIA 3506 Barcode : 834494 Location : Melbourne Series accession number : M914/1

South Australia, Marree – The Mosque. [Photographer, R Bean.]
National Archives of Australia.
Date : 1947
Image no. : M914, SOUTH AUSTRALIA 3506
Barcode : 834494
Location : Melbourne
Series accession number : M914/1

For anyone interested in learning more about Dervish Bejah there are some links that may be of use.

http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=771&c=1996

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bejah-dervish-5187


Comments

Dervish Bejah — 6 Comments

  1. Hi Murad,

    thank you for your message. These photos are no longer in copyright. They are held by the National Archives in Melbourne. As long as you credit the images and where they come from, as I have done, you are allowed to used them. I suggest that you do a search for them under the details that I have up on my site. You will find the original images.
    If you feel that you do also need permission from a family member, then I am certainly happy to give you permission. Please just let me know the name of your book and when it is coming out. I would love to hear more about it.
    My apologies for the delay in responding to you. I have been unwell.

  2. hi Tina
    could you tell me what family member you are i would be glad to meet you.
    too many people use my Grandfathers name and photos for their own benefit

    would love to hear from you on my email address below

  3. Before the British invasion of India, Baluchistan and today’s Pakistan was part of the Great Afghanistan Soil. This is not me the history proves it. That is whey all of those brave men were called Afghan Cameleers.

  4. Hi, I am Ramu Nachiappan the owner of building which is subject of a controversial art mural by John Hinton a Broken Hill artist. John’s CV indicates that his mother Maneer Khan is a granddaughter of Bejah Dervish if any of this legendary explorer’s family wish to make contact. John fondly remembers meeting Bejah when he came for a visit to Broken Hill when John was about 11 years old, about 1957.

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