Afghan-Australian relations can be traced back to the 1860s when Afghan cameleers came to Australia. For half a century, the cameleers played a crucial role in the exploration and development of the Australian outback, ferrying supplies across the continent. The Adelaide to Alice Springs train (now extended to Darwin), the Ghan, is named in their honour.
The next wave of Afghan migration to Australia followed the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when thousands fled their homeland. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (www.abs.gov.au), the Afghan-born population in Australia in 2001 was 11,296; however, this number has drastically increased in the past few years. There are Afghan communities in all of Australia's major cities.
Â For the first time in the history of Afghan-Australia relations, Afghanistan opened an honorary Consulate in Canberra with jurisdiction throughout Australia in October 1994. This commitment established the first resident formal link between the two countries, which was followed by the establishment of the Embassy of Afghanistan in 2002. And September 2006, Australia's High Commissioner to Pakistan was accredited as non-resident Ambassador to Afghanistan.Â In August 2006, Mr Downer announced the appointment of His Excellency Mr. Brett Hackett as Australia's first resident Ambassador to Afghanistan.
Since the 2002, Afghanistan and Australia both enjoy sound and cooperative bilateral relations. Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, has visited Afghanistan several times and his latest trip was in November 2005, when he called on Afghan President, Hamid Karzai and Australian defence personnel on duty in Afghanistan. In December 2005 Governor-General Major General Jeffery and later that month, Foreign Minister Downer visited Kabul and called on President Karzai, and other leading figures and cabinet members to announce further cooperation and strengthening the bilateral relations. In a similar attempt to boost the relationship between the two countries, Afghan Immigration Minister, Mr. Enayatullah Nazari visited Australia followed by Mr. Yusuf Pashtoon, Minister of Urban Development where he signed an agreement with the Australian government to build 1,400 apartments in Barik Aab, Alice Ghan Project.
Today, the Afghan Embassy in Australia and the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan, are both dedicated to working closely with their respective governments in private, public sectors to further improve economic, military and technology relations between the two countries.