Hermannsburg, Australia Tourist Attractions
Hermannsburg (pop. 500) is on the Larapinta Drive 125km southwest of Alice Springs (the last 30km on a gravel road; no special permission required). In 1880 German Lutheran missionaries arrived in the Finke River plain to bring the Bible, medical aid and education to the Aranda people, after an arduous 20 months' journey from Bethany in South Australia with horses, sheep and herds of cattle. Their settlement, the first mission station in the Northern Territory, was named after a Lutheran seminary in Hannover. Some 100 Aborigines lived in the mission in the 1880s, and the present mission buildings were erected around 1890 by Carl Strehlow. There were vegetable gardens, fruit plantations and date palms. The missionaries recorded the language and vocabulary of the Aranda. Among those who lived here was Albert Namatjira, the best-known Aboriginal painter. He is commemorated by a monument in the form of a tall stone column on the Larapinta Drive (10km east of Hermannsburg). Since 1982 the Aranda have been owners of the mission and a wide surrounding area, in which most of the Aborigines live in traditional groups in outlying stations. There is a similar settlement, with a school for the children of nomadic cattle herds, at Ipolera, to the west of Hermannsburg, where the Aborigines give tourists an introduction to their way of life. The historic buildings in Hermannsburg - the church (1880), the schoolhouse, a number of dwelling houses and a smithy - are maintained with assistance from the National Trust. Two of the houses have been converted into a museum. Visitors can see the historic buildings in the main street but not the area with the homes of the Aborigines. There are numerous tours from Alice Springs, often combined with a visit to Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park.