Hermannsburg
Collage of Hermannsburg.

This central desert settlement is now known by its aboriginal name of Ntaria. It's the name given by the Western Arrernte (or Aranda) people of the Northern Territory who were handed back their traditional lands in 1982. Prior to that it was known as Hermannsburg which is the the name given by two German missionaries in 1877. Kempe and Schartz were two Lutherans who hailed from Hermannsburg in northern Germany. They arrived at Palm Valley with some cattle and several thousand sheep to create a Lutheran Mission in the centre of Australia.

Colonial Australia is not best remembered for its kindness towards towards the indigenous population and massacres by pastoralists in revenge for stock theft were not uncommon. Usually, if the constabulary weren't directly involved then they were turning a blind eye. The Arrernte sought sanctuary at the mission and while a few were christened most held onto their traditional religious customs. The missionaries finally abandoned Hermannsburg in 1891 and the ambitions of the Lutheran church in central Australia lay dormant until the cause was taken up three years later by Pastor Carl Friedrich Theodor Strehlow.

Hermannsburg was the first settlement of central Australia and today is home to about 600 Arrernte people from 5 different cultural groups. The Hermannsburg township has been added to the National Heritage Listing and is protected by the National Trust.

Hermannsburg is the birthplace of famous aboriginal watercolour artist Albert Namatjiri. Namatjiri was baptised by Carl Strehlow.

Hermannsburg is the only town on our list of '100 Real Outback Towns' that doesn't have the traditional outback pub as the hub of the settlement. In Hermannsburg that's an indication of the towns Lutheran heritage and the choice of the current owners - the Western Arrernte people. It's probably not a bad thing. Visitors are welcome at the township but are requested not to venture to the outlying communities. Don't come to Hermannsburg looking to put your feet up on the hitching rail, fire up the barbecue and enjoy a few cold beers. It's a place to absorb this unique piece of Australian history before getting out into the bush to find the 'real' outback. Other places of interest around Hermannsburg are Palm Valley (18km) and Gosse Bluff Crater(55km).


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