In July last year (2022), I met Ko Maung Maung from Mandalay in Melbourne. He went to Tasmania Island for 40 days by car. When he crossed the sea, he had to put the car on a ferry. I was very interested.
This year on (16-3-2023), I arrived in Melbourne. Ko Maung Maung came to me on Friday (17-3-2023) evening. We went to the Forkner Mosque in Marrakesh. There I met with Azero Haque. They couldn’t come out this year because they were busy with Istemal, held on 10, 11 and 12 March.
The teams from Brisbane (Sydney) and Perth have left. The Darwin team has not yet left and introduced me to the leader of the Darwin team. They are preparing the car because they will travel more than 3,000 kilometres (3,756 km) in the desert. They will leave on Thursday, 23 March. So I have to prepare to follow them. On 22 March, Azero sent me to Springvale.
They planned to go in 2 cars. However, Dr Hajouna, a Sudanese doctor, lent us his 13-seater Toyota Hiace for free to take them on the road.
There were 7 people with a month’s worth of clothing, utilities, bed linen, cooking utensils, and a tent to spend the night on the road. It was beautiful and perfect. Having a big car was convenient. The Forkner Mosque did not see the moon on the night of the 22nd. When we left on the morning of the 23rd, we had not started fasting yet.
We had lunch at Horsham Jam-e Masjid on the road while praying Zuhur. The mosque in Horsham had already begun fasting.
Melbourne in the state of Victoria and Adelaide in the state of South Australia is 726 kilometres away, and it takes more than 8 hours to drive. We went to the Wandana Mosque in Adelaide city and prayed Isha prayer and Taraweeh prayer. Their mosque had already started fasting. After the prayer, we went to the guest house. It started well.
On 25 March, we went to Coober Pedy (SA), which is 849 kilometres from Adelaide. It used to be a place where there were old mines that produced opal stones. We saw a small Musalla, prayed, and slept in our own tents at Oasis Caravans Park.
The next day, we went to Alice Springs (Northern Territory), which is 687 kilometres from Coober Pedy. It took 7 hours to drive. There are mosque dormitories and Community Centre dormitories in the large compound of the Afghan Mosque. We could stay at the centre. They had Halal food and chicken, beef, goat, and sheep meat in the centre. The prices were written.
Many people came to pray on Friday, and each one bought and supported. Now it was good for us. We paid by the card system. There were many photos of old camel drivers hanging in the hall. Around 1884, the mosque hut and the pond created by the camel drivers became a historical monument. This place was given by the township, and it started in the 1960s. The current buildings were built in 1993. The tombs of the camel drivers have also been preserved. We visited and prayed.
On 28 March, we went to Tennant Creek (NT), which is 508 kilometres from Alice Springs. It took 5 hours to drive. The roads in the Northern Territory state are straight, and the surrounding desert is huge. There is very little traffic. It’s a 2-lane highway. It’s a 130 km speed drive. On the road, we often saw a long line of road trains with 4 containers. Be careful if you overtake them. I had to sit in the back seat of the driver.
In Tennant Creek, there is a Musalla place for Muslims to pray inside the International Community Centre. There are bathrooms, toilets, washing machines, and a full kitchen. They are not allowed to stay on the way, but on the way back, the officials of the Centre let them stay because we were guests from Melbourne. Similarly, in Coober Pedy, they were allowed to stay in a Musalla because it was raining on the way back.
We stayed in Tennant Creek for 2 days and had to camp in the caravan park. The kitchen in the caravan park was available for our use, including the bathroom, toilet, and swimming pool. We could still swim. The price was not too high. A resident brought a fan from his house because it was hot in the tent. Because it is a hot area, there are mosquitoes and a lot of flies. We also brought mosquito nets and fly traps.
On 30 March, we travelled 675 kilometres from Tennant Creek to Katherine (N.T.). It took 7 hours to drive. We went to the town and visited Katherine Musalla, run by the United Muslims of Northern Territory INC (UMNT). It had everything from washing machines to everything. Everything was fine. The people of the city were too tired to be hospitable at first, but they warmed up to us when they realized we were visitors from Melbourne.
On 2 April, we went to Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, which is 317 kilometres away from Katherine. It took just over 3 hours to drive.
The courtyard of the Darwin Mosque was very large. There was a large parking area between the mosque hall and the Islamic Community Hall. We were accommodated in an air-conditioned accommodation. We were also allowed to use the kitchen. The program was daily, and we provided lunch boxes for the evening meal. Both genders came together as families. They were very busy and active. We also saw Burmese and Rohingya families. They brought 2 wild chickens that they raised and cooked a special dinner for us. They brought pineapples, papayas, pousina, green chillies, limes, and betel leaves from their farm. They quarrelled for several days.
During this time, I also went to Darwin Central Musalla for 2 days. UMNT organized it. It was around the city, and many employees from the market and mall offices came to worship. There was also a prayer program. Hafiz was rented, and Quran reading was arranged. I respected it.
On Saturday 8 April, we went to the town of Palmerston (NT), which is 20.3 km from Darwin. Palmerston town was on the return trip from Darwin. There are only 3 mosques in the Northern Territory: in Alice Springs, Palmerston, and Darwin. Palmerston is a rural village close to mines, plantations, and farms. Many people are migrating there, and it is gradually becoming crowded. Therefore, the mosque on the outskirts of the city has purchased more land and is building a new mosque. It will be completed soon. There are guest houses that are fully equipped and neat. During the month of Ramadan, Taraweeh Prayer is led by a Qur’an Hafiz teacher from Melbourne. Therefore, it is very crowded on Saturdays and Sundays. Women and children pray in the hall. They pray, and the men also pray in the afisan. When they pray, they sit and eat in the outdoor chairs. After the new mosque is completed, it will be more convenient.
On 11 April, we went to Tennant Creek (NT). We were allowed to stay at the Musalla made at the Community Centre. This Musalla also borrowed a Hafeez from Melbourne to read the Qur’an.
On 13 April, we went to Alice Springs (NT). We stayed for about 2 days.
We arrived from the Coober Pedy (SA) mine area on 15 April. We met with a person in charge. It was raining outside, so we were allowed to stay at the Musalla. We found many underground caves dug out from the hills while looking for Opal stones. There were museums, hotels (Cave Hotel), and houses built there. It was interesting.
We returned to Adelaide (SA) on 17 April. We also visited Elizabeth Musalla and saw many Rohingyas. On 19 April, we returned to the Forkner Mosque in Melbourne.
On 20 April, the doctor’s car was cleaned and returned. Some of them went home after 40 days. On Friday 21 April, the rest of us were in Marakad. On Saturday 22 April, after Eid Prayer, we all went to Novel Park Mosque. After Eid Prayer, we went to friends’ houses and went to Musalla from Nobel Park. Two members of our group and a young man named Junid from the Brisbane group.
The leader of the Brisbane group, Ko Shafi Bai, a Yangon resident, had completed 40 days, but he was a Springvale martyr, so he stayed with us. Starting from the day after Eid, we continued to observe fasting for 6 days. Morning Fajr Prayer was prayed at Novel Park Mosque. We read the Talin with the Indonesian group. We had Bayan talks and discussions. During the remaining Prayer, we organized programs at the Virginia Street Musalla and Bertha Street Musalla in Springvale.
At the Bertha Street Musalla, the people of that neighbourhood had specially arranged it. It was respectable.
On 27 Aprilh, I was the only one left. Ko Shafi and the Indonesian brother Maw Lana Sfarudin stayed with me.
We moved to the Forkner Mosque. On the 28th, we saw many of them again at Markad. On Sunday, the 30th, many of them came to the meeting (Joe). I fed my friends from Springvale with Japanese frying rice.
My 40 days (Qila) ended after an official gave me a farewell speech after Fajr Prayer on Monday morning. Azero delivered it to my daughter’s house.
It was the first experience in my life. In the holy month of Ramadan, I had the opportunity to pray 5 times a day in addition to Nafil Prayer, Quran, Zaqeel, and Abadat. I observed 6 days of fasting.
May Allah accept all the good deeds I have done.