Hermannsburg (Ntaria)

Hermannsburg is an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is known in the local Western Arrernte language as Ntaria.

Ntaria is situated in one of the most picturesque areas of Central Australia, comprising of braod expanse of Missionary Plain running east-west with its northern and southren boundaries embracing the MacDonnell and Krichauff Ranges.  The plain is covered by thinn wooded grassland and includes the dramatic crater formation of Gosse Bluff. The Finke River and Ellery Creek are the main watercourses passing through the district and the main roads are Larapinta Drive, Namatjira Luritja Road, Ernest Giles Road and the Mereenie Loop Road.

Hermannsburg is associated with a number of people of importance to the history of the Northern Territory. Carl Strehlow and his son T.G.H. Strehlow undertook the detailed recording of the Aranda language and culture. The high esteem in which they were held by the Aranda made it possible for them to produce records that still provide baseline documentation for ethnographic research. Hermannsburg was also the home of Albert Namatjira, one of Australia’s most famous landscape artists. Namatjira met artist Rex Battarbee in 1934 and the result was a series of paintings in Central Australia which evoked the beauty of the region and contributed to interstate interest in the region.

The community is equipped with a Women's Cultural Centre, two Supermarkets, Post Office, Bank Agency, Takeaway Food, Finke River Mission Store, Service Station, Mechanical workshops and Church.

Nearby attractions: Palm Valley National Park, Ellery Big Hole and Boggy Hole are ideal for picnics, barbeques and swimming.  The Finke Gorge, West MacDonnell Ranges and the Watarrka National Park attract a large number of tourists to the districts with the peak between April and October. The Kings Canyon Resort has a motel, camping and restaurant facilities.

Albert Namatjira's House

Located approximately 5km west of Hermannsberg Community. It is a two-roomed cottage, constructed of hand-cut local sandstone bricks with a corrugated galvanised iron roof. Albert built this house for his wife and the house features a fireplace and chimney – which is located at the eastern end of the structure. The interior and exterior walls have been rendered and on the northern side of the structure, concrete footings of incomplete rooms to the house remain. There is also rock edging to a path leading to a gate. There is a sign out on the road pointing up the driveway and there is another house nearby with a few sheds around it.

The house was lived in by Namatjira and his family for only five years until one of their children died and so with their custom, moved out of the house and lived somewhere in Palm Valley. Relatives have cared for the house over many years since and following renovation in 1971 and conservation work in 1986, it was used as a small museum and craft outlet.


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Location: 131 km southwest of Alice Springs. 

History

Hermannsburg was established as an Aboriginal mission in 1877 at the forefront of pastoral expansion in Central Australia. The last of the missions of the German Hermannsburg Missionary Society, it was established due to the influence of the German settler community in South Australia.  Lasting from 1877 - 1982, it is one of the longest serving denominational missions in Australia. It was founded by two Lutheran missionaries from Germany who had travelled overland from Bethany in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. They named their new mission after Hermannsburg in Germany where they had trained. In 1891, the missionaries left, but the settlement was continued by lay workers until, in 1894, Pastor Carl Strehlow arrived. His son T.G.H. Strehlow became a noted anthropologist and was initiated into Arrernte customs.

Pastor Strehlow learnt the local Western Arrernte language and is credited with translating the Bible into the language. As Strehlow was of German descent, the Western Arrernte written form followed his German pronunciation—which is why the letter/sound relationships make the language easy to read and pronounce for English speakers/readers. Subsequently the mission achieved a number of historic firsts.

In 1925 Strehlow's succesor, Pastor F.W. Albrecht whose daughter Helene Burns was brought up on the mission and still speaks fluent Aranda, began a program which encouraged the local people to develop skills and trades.  This led to the establishment of the tannery in 1936.  In 1930 Hermannsburg became the first outpost int he Northern Territory to use a pedal wireless.

Albert Namatjira was born at Hermannsburg in 1902. He developed the ability to use his acute observation of the land to paint Western-style watercolours. Painting in this style came to be known as the Hermannsburg School of painting.

The mission land was handed over to traditional ownership in 1982. The Hermannsburg Historic Precinct was included on the Australian National Heritage List in April 2006. Much of the historic township is now protected by the National Trust.

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