Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Hermannsburg NT


Postcode: 0872

Hermannsburg is an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory of Australia, 131 km southwest of Alice Springs. At the 2001 census, Hermannsburg had a population of 458. It was established as an Aboriginal mission in 1877 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.

The missionaries learned the local Arrernte language, and developed a dictionary by 1891 so they could translate the Bible. They documented the Aranda traditions carefully.

In 1891, these 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 Aranda customs.

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, using the eyes of an Aborigine. 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. Much of the historic township is now protected by the National Trust.