|List||National Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (13/04/2006)|
|Place File No||7/08/013/0003|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
Hermannsburg Mission was established by German Lutheran missionaries in 1877
following an arduous 20 month journey from South Australia,
at the forefront of pastoral expansion in central Australia. It was managed by Lutheran missionaries and
the Lutheran Church from 1877-1982, and is the last surviving mission developed
by missionaries from the Hermannsburg Missionary
Society in Germany under the influence the German Lutheran community in South
Australia. This community was
established in 1838 supported by the South Australia Company, and in particular
George Fife Angas.
The mission functioned as a refuge for Aboriginal people during the violent frontier conflict that was a feature of early pastoral settlement in central Australia. The Lutheran missionaries were independent and outspoken, playing a key role in attempting to mediate conflict between pastoralists, the police and Aboriginal people, and speaking publicly about the violence, sparking heated national debate.
The history of the mission reflects several phases of missionary and government policy towards Aboriginal people spanning 105 years, from intervention to protectionist policies, assimilation and finally self-determination. It is the longest-running Aboriginal mission within Australia that was both continually managed by a denominational body and that operated as a separate Aboriginal settlement throughout its history. In the early 1900s, the Lutheran missionaries strongly resisted government attempts to close the mission and sourced independent funds when the government temporarily withdrew its financial support following WWI.
Hermannsburg Historic Precinct is one of the few surviving and relatively intact mid-to-late century denominational evangelical bush missions in Australia. In the context of twentieth century development and overlays, the mission complex illustrates the progressive establishment, self-sufficiency and operation of remote, denominational, evangelical bush missions in central Australia, together with the principal characteristics of mid-to-late nineteenth century denominational missions. These characteristics include: planning and layout along the major cardinal axes, with a modified ‘village green’ layout bordered by residential buildings and communal facilities and a central dominant church; the self-sufficient nature of the former gardens, date palm grove and irrigation system; and buildings associated with the housing, feeding, schooling and education of Aboriginal people. The layout reflects the inward looking nature of the community and the centrality of Church and school to Lutheran communities; while the buildings display some unusual examples of construction and design influenced by German pastors and tradesmen of German origin in South Australia, such as gable ventilators and internal cross-wall construction based on German fachwerk techniques. The mission complex is also important in illustrating many of the common themes of Aboriginal mission life in Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, such as the distribution of rations, communal meals, the separation of Aboriginal children from their parents, and a strong emphasis on church, schooling, work and self-sufficiency.
Hermannsburg Historic Precinct has a special association with Albert Namatjira and Aboriginal artists who paint in the watercolour tradition. Namatjira grew up at Hermannsburg Mission, and was introduced to European-style watercolour painting through visiting artist Rex Battarbee. The Lutheran missionaries played an important part in supporting and promoting Namatjira’s early artwork, and managing his affairs. Namatjira's importance lies in his development of a distinctive Aboriginal school of Central Australian landscape painting executed in watercolour. He was the first Aboriginal artist to be commercially exhibited nationally and internationally. His work became widely acclaimed and a national symbol for Aboriginal achievement. Namatjira maintained a close association with Hermannsburg Mission throughout his later artistic career, frequently returning to the mission for periods of time until his death. Aboriginal artists from other family groups in this area continue the tradition of watercolour painting today.
Lutheran missionaries based at Hermannsburg Mission have made a singular contribution to the record of Aboriginal traditions through their work in this region. Pastor Carl Strehlow was a scholar and skilled linguist whose early research with the Western Arrernte and Luritja people in Central Australia over a 30 year period made a landmark contribution to the development of anthropology as a comparative discipline. His main work Die Aranda – und Lorita-Stamme in Zentral Australien adds to the early anthropological work of W. B. Spencer and F. J. Gillen on the Arrernte. Disagreements between the Lutheran Strehlow and the secular anthropologists set the scene for conflict over the interpretation of Aboriginal beliefs and traditions and over Aboriginal policy throughout the later twentieth century.
Carl Strehlows’ work was consolidated and developed by T. G. H. Strehlow, his son. His knowledge of Arrernte language and custom began with his early life at the mission, allowing him to develop the close relationships with Aboriginal people that were crucial throughout his career. He became a skilled linguist and was acknowledged as the leading anthropologist of Central Australia based on his intimate knowledge of Arrernte religious life and traditions. Hermannsburg Mission provided a base for much of his fieldwork, and many of his most important informants were associated with the mission.
The Arrernte people traditionally occupied the country around Hermannsburg Mission, and spoke the Western Arrernte dialect. There are stories associated with this country, such as the story of the Ntaria twins - one fat, one thin - who were born near a waterhole and later travelled across the country towards the present location of Hermannsburg (Mulvaney, 1989:141; pers. com, Judith Pungarta Inkamala).
A key aspect of Lutheran communities was the need to erect a church-school, as an expression of their faith. In the early stages of mission development such joint facilities were accommodated, as in most rural communities in the mid-nineteenth century, in the first permanent accommodation. The first permanent (stone) structures were erected aligned approximately north south/east-west, echoing the key principal employed in the planning and alignment of churches in European Christian society: the nave and altar defined the east-west axis of the building. The altar of the first Church was at the eastern end of the room identified as the Church section of the two-roomed Church /School building, which was aligned north-south. Winnecke’s 1894 survey indicates that this first church, when erected in 1880, occupied the centre of a potentially triangular space, a slightly modified ‘village green’ layout, which would be defined by the gardens along the river and by houses and service buildings erected between 1878 and the early 1900s. The Schoolhouse erected in 1896 was clearly aligned with the new Church of 1896/1897, which would dominate the triangular ‘village green’. Buildings not aligned with these dominant axes were limited to the Messhouse (1903) and Strehlow’s House (1896-1897), in which the alignment was dictated by the available space.
The first accommodation for Aboriginal people, the boys and girls dormitories, were erected sometime between 1894-1904. The increasing role of Aboriginal people in both mission and pastoral station activity is evident in the Messhouse and Stockmen’s Residence, erected in the early 1900s. Grass huts occupied by Aboriginal people (date of construction unknown) were located north of the Manse and the School, although no physical evidence remains (refer photographs in Strehlow Residence).
Evidence for the original gardens exists in the narrow strip of land between the alignment of the permanent structures between the Messhouse/Rations store and the Stockmen’s Residence and the Finke River watercourse and in the location of the date palm plantation on the western side of the precinct. Winnecke’s 1894 survey indicates that a small number of wells and mud and slab huts were associated with the gardens, although no evidence of these appears to remain. In places, the gardens are terraced below the adjacent houses using local stone. The difficulty in providing water supplies is evident in the Kaporilja Tank and in the underground structures erected in the 1920s and 1930s.
The individual buildings and the development of the precinct over time contribute to a strong sense of place. In general, residential buildings line the river, but faced inwards to the public space and the Church and School. The ‘Old Church’ of 1896/1897, the tallest building, remains the focus of the heritage precinct, which, although based on alignments and buildings erected in the 1870s and 1880s, is an expression of Strehlow’s intention to develop the mission in 1894. Strehlow’s House was erected near the site of the first Church (1880) and the second Church of 1896 appears to have been erected on the site of an earlier residence recorded by Winnecke in 1894, which had accommodated some of the first church services. The planning and layout of the simple cellular buildings, the use of local materials and the public spaces created are important evidence of the approach by Lutheran missionaries to living in a remote area in Central Australia.
As was generally the case in the nineteenth century, the cemetery was located some distance (approximately 100metres) from the mission buildings. This is now identified as the Old Cemetery.
Buildings and Structures
Although the immediate pastoral setting has been adapted over time through expansion of the mission station, Hermannsburg Mission Station retains its nineteenth century functional relationship to the pastoral landscape, evident in the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct and the related site of the Old Cemetery.
The Hermannsburg Historic Precinct includes the following significant extant structures, which are identified in the Conservation and Management Plan (Heritage Conservation Services 2003):
Smithy (1)1882: a gabled, rubble-stone structure originally in two sections; a smithy and harness store. A front verandah functioned as a wagon shelter. Now enclosed in a 1960s steel shed.
Colonists Residence (2) 1885: the oldest surviving residence at Hermannsburg Mission. Built for married colonists or lay-workers. The gabled, one-room deep, rubble-stone structure includes a cellar at one end. A verandah shields the north front of the building.
Manse (3) 1888: regarded as the Missionaries House, since it was occupied by the early pastors. A gabled, one-room deep, rubblestone building with a verandah on the south side.
Meathouse (4) pre 1896: date unknown, but possibly erected as a storehouse and originally part of a larger building. A single-room, gabled rubble-stone structure.
Schoolhouse (5) 1896: a gabled, single roomed, rubble-stone structure with calico ceilings.
Correspondence School (6): possibly erected as the ‘eating house’ in 1896. Similar design and construction to the Schoolhouse.
Strehlow’s House (7a) 1897: the design of this residence differs from the others in the use of a two-room deep plan and central passageway. Construction and details generally similar to other residences. Additions 1905, 1912, 1920. The house still has some of the original contents.
Old Church (8) 1896: a single-roomed, gabled, rubble-stone structure higher than other buildings in the precinct. The walls are lime-mortared and lime-washed and reduce in thickness with height. Iron tie-rods were used to tie the side-walls together during construction. A raised platform at the eastern end accommodated the altar. A wooden tabernacle hangs on the wall near the altar, painted with pictures of bread, grapes and a chalice. The letters ‘IHS’ are inscribed on the front of tabernacle, and it is also inscribed with the words pater, filius, non est, and spiritus sanctus. Small crosses characteristically decorate the gables with a dedication plaque above the entrance in Arrernte, German and English with the inscriptions ‘Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it’ and ‘Sep.21.1896’. A bell is suspended in a timber frame at the entrance to the church.
Messhouse/Ration Store (9) 1903: erected as the messroom for Aboriginal people. Of similar construction and details to the residences.
Boys Dormitory (10) c.1900: a pair of dormitories for boys (surviving) and girls (destroyed in 1954). Of similar design and construction to the other rubble-stone buildings.
Wagon Shed Wall (11) nd : a single stone wall that survives from the original rubble-stone shed.
Storehouse Ruin (12) c. 1900: a small, ruined, rubble-stone structure, now un-roofed.
Stockmen’s Residence (13a) 1911: a four-roomed, gabled rubble-stone cottage with a cellar, pitched roof and encircling verandah.
Stockmens Outbuilding (13b) 1917: originally constructed as a bakehouse. A gabled, rubble-stone building with pitched roof.
Underground tanks 1927-1930: four survive. Intended to assist with the tanning industry established in the 1930s.
Kaporilja Tank (14) 1934-35: an above ground tank constructed of local stone, lime mortar and plastered internally with cement. Covered by a corrugated galvanized iron roof.
Maids’ Quarters (7b) 1933: attached to Strehlow’s House. The rooms provided accommodation for guests and maids. Construction is similar to the other rubble-stone residences, but with a skillion roof.
Mortuary (15) 1936: erected behind the Old Church. A small, skillion-roofed, rubble-stone building in which the mortuary slab remains intact. A decorative cross is located above the entrance door.
Tannery (16) 1941: a skillion-roofed, rubble-stone structure with two rooms. Now enclosed in a larger building (1962).
Kitchen, Bakery and Dining Room (17) c. 1947-1948: a gabled, steel-framed shed clad with asbestos cement sheeting and flattened 44-gallon drums.
Isolation Ward (18): a timber-framed, skillion-roofed, 44-gallon drum clad building with a small chimney and fireplace.
The former gardens and date palm plantation are situated between the mission buildings and the Finke River, surrounded by a wire mesh fence. The gardens contain remnant date palms together with evidence of stone retaining walls and steps immediately below the mission buildings, a lower retaining wall of metal drums, below-ground concrete water tanks (2), and various pieces of irrigation equipment.
The nearby Old Cemetery contains graves dating back to 1886, including that of J. Heinrich. It was enclosed with a stone wall in 1930, the gates opening in the direction of the church (Radford, 1983:50). The stone wall remains along 2 ½ sides of the cemetery, the remaining sides are enclosed with a wire fence. Graves are aligned east-west with the headstones facing east and received both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Christian burials. The last recorded burial at this cemetery was in 1960 (NT Heritage Register). The early Missionaries’ graves feature metal crosses with detailing characteristic of German precedents. Later graves often feature cement or concrete crosses, although early Aboriginal pastors’ graves feature stone memorials.
Some of the buildings contain objects of value for their associations with the precinct and particular individuals. Within Strehlow’s Residence there are several items including an 1890 dining table (from Germany), a bookcase (made in 1921 by Strehlow), a piano, photographs and paintings. The old church contains a wooden tabernacle, an organ and other religious items. Other objects within the Precinct include original paintings by Albert Namatjira and other well known Aboriginal artists, including members of the Namatjira, Ebatarinji, Inkamala and Pareroulitja families, and machinery, such as a 1930s Chevrolet utility, the first car used at Hermannsburg (Heritage Conservation Services 2003:50).
The development of Hermannsburg Mission Station is reflected in the landscape, planning and layout, and associated wells and gardens, and in the details, fabric and structure of the buildings in the Heritage Precinct.
Winnecke’s 1894 description of the fabric of the buildings at Hermannsburg referred to all masonry buildings as being erected of sandstone rubble with thatched roofs, with no reference to timber framing. In particular the Colonist’s Residence (1885) was described as a ‘substantially built stone house of seven rooms, sandstone walls, 1’ 3” in thickness’. All other stone buildings appear to have been erected with 18-inch (450 mm) thick walls, in keeping with rubble-stone construction techniques across Australia. During conservation works in the 1980s by Service Enterprises, it was discovered that the Colonists Residence was timber framed internally, a section of the construction being left visible for interpretation. This timber-framed section has been interpreted as fachwerk construction, and appears to have been limited to internal construction such as cross-walls, without being expressed in the external stonework. ‘Fachwerk’ is generally understood to be half-timbered construction in which the timber structural frame is infilled with brick and in some cases ‘wattle and daub’. The technique used at Hermannsburg was a more primitive form of construction in which the panels were filled with a very basic form of ‘wattle and daub’, a form of infill generally restricted in use to outbuildings in SA.
Gabled roofs were often a feature of vernacular stone buildings in the Australian colonies and of traditional cottages and farmhouses in Germany. A distinctive feature of traditionally influenced buildings in South Australia was the use of gable openings providing external access to loft spaces within the pitched roof spaces. At Hermannsburg, similar loft openings appear in the gable end walls of many buildings, including the Colonist’s Residence (1885) and the Manse (1888). Winnecke’s detailed survey drawing shows that these early residences were of cellular, cross-wall construction with access provided to paired rooms by a verandah along one side of the building. Fireplaces were attached to the rooms on the side opposite to the verandahs. Existing early ceilings, such as in the Colonists Residence feature saplings as laths with thick, ant-bed based plaster. The provision of a cellar, providing secure safe storage, in the Colonists Residence also followed a practice seen in many German Lutheran farmhouses in SA in both the Adelaide Hills and in the Barossa Valley.
The separate Church and School erected in the 1890s represented a shift in the scale of accommodation, the functions formerly accommodated in a single building as the focus of the community. The dedication stone states that the new Church was completed in September 1898 by A. Haemmerling. The inscription includes messages written in German, Arrernte and English. Although these new structures continued the general scale, architectural idiom and use of materials, the use of gable-end fireplaces and chimneys reflected standards employed generally in the colonies by the end of the nineteenth century in such small institutional buildings. Strehlows’ House also differed from the first residences in that it was two rooms deep with a central hallway patterned after the standard, four-roomed, Georgian style cottage but with verandahs on both long sides. In contrast to the earlier thatched roofs a mulga wood and lime-based, concrete roof covering was employed on Strehlows’ House.
The thatched roofs and lime-concrete and mulga wood used on early buildings were progressively replaced with corrugated galvanized iron, also employed in the later new buildings. Internally the lime-mortared, stone structures were plastered, the external surfaces lime-washed.
As a group, nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings in the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct are small scale, vernacular in their planning and construction and accretive in their development, all attributes of the general development of pastoral stations across Australia. The range of construction techniques includes examples of basic fachwerk techniques evident in the interior of buildings such as the Colonists Residence, to more recent vernacular techniques employed in the flattened 44-gallon drums in the Isolation Ward.
Four broad phases of government policy on Aboriginal issues are identified:
Life on Aboriginal missions was variable, depending upon the religious philosophy of the missionary body, the outlook and interest of individual missionaries, the response of Aboriginal people, the intersection of the Church with Government etc. In some areas the missions led to the loss of language, breakdown of traditional practices, the removal of people from their traditional country and their families, and were places of abuse. In other cases, the mission allowed Aboriginal people to stay within their traditional country, provided some protection from violence associated with the spread of European settlement, facilitated the retention of local language and culture, and allowed the community to stay together (DEH, 2003).
By 1853 South Australia, originally part of New South Wales, had separated and achieved its own constitution. Constitution-making in South Australia was a serious political issue throughout the early 1850s, a product of the commitment to civil and religious liberty among the colonists. However, of the approximately 18,000 Germans who moved to South Australia in the nineteenth century, only some 5%, in particular the German Lutherans, had done so because of religious persecution in Europe. This included the first three groups of settlers who had moved because of the religious freedom offered in Australia (Young et al 1977 Vol 1: 44-46). The German Lutheran community would be instrumental in the establishment of missions in SA in the 1840s and in introducing and facilitating the evangelical role of the Hermannsburg Missionary Society in the Australian colonies.
The first missionaries in South Australia were German Lutherans from the Lutheran Missionary Society of Dresden, who were working in Adelaide by 1839. By 1840 two more German missionaries had arrived in South Australia, subsequently establishing a mission at Encounter Bay. At Port Lincoln, a Lutheran mission was established on one of the government reserves set aside for ‘pacifying’ local Aboriginal tribes who had shown a determined resistance to European settlement. However, due to doctrinal differences within the Lutheran Church resulting in a lack of financial support, most had abandoned their enterprises by the mid-1850s (Stevens 1994: 13-15).
In 1846 two distinct Lutheran Synods had formed as a result of the doctrinal differences: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (ELCA), also known as the Immanuel Synod, and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia (UELCA), commonly known as the South Australian Synod. Pastor J. F. Meiscel, a Lutheran missionary, formed the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society of South Australia in 1854. In 1862, he issued a challenge to Lutherans in Australia, in particular in SA, to begin missionary work among the Aboriginal people. Pastors Auricht and Reichner approached the South Australian Synod with a proposal to unite the two Lutheran Synods in SA and seek support from the director of the Hermannsburg Mission Institute in Hanover. The two Lutheran synods joined forces and established a Missions Committee (Stevens 1994: 17).
It is unclear why the Lutheran missionaries took an interest in the lake systems of the north-eastern part of South Australia; although Stevens (1994: 17) conjectures that it was perhaps due to the reports of massacres of Aboriginal people, or of corroborree grounds hosting numerous Aborigines for ceremonial rituals. The areas around the depressions of Lake Killalpaninna and Lake Kopperamanna also attracted the Moravian Lutherans of Victoria. On 9 October 1866 the Barossa Valley German community at Langmeil witnessed the departure of missionaries from Hermannsburg in Germany. Killapaninna Mission, established in 1866 by the Hermannsburg Lutheran missionaries from South Australia, was abandoned in late 1871 during a drought. The Killalpaninna Mission settlement (Bethesda Mission) was later re-established on the shore of Lake Killalpaninna (1879). The Moravians, a separate sect, also established a mission at Lake Kopperamanna in 1866, because the ‘natives from over 100 miles in radius meet here’ (Stevens 1994: 45, 52, 64-86).
Prior to the 1860s, little was known about the ‘remote centre’ of Australia. In 1862 explorer
John McDouall Stuart led an expedition (his third and final attempt) through the Centre, navigating and mapping the country for white settlement (Heppell et al, 1981:1). By 1872 the legendary Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin was completed, opening up the Centre for pastoralists (Harris, 1990:384). The first cattle reached Alice Springs (then called Stuart) in 1872. Further explorations were undertaken through this country, outwards from the Telegraph line by W. Gosse (1873), E. Giles (1873, 1876) and Warburton (1873).
By the early 1870s, the future of Killalpannina Mission was under discussion. In June 1874, the Missions Committee, interested in finding a more promising station site, appointed two members to interview the Surveyor General, Mr Goyder, about the possibility of land for a mission in Central Australia. Goyder directed them to the explorers Gosse and Giles, who agreed that an area about 90 miles west of Alice Springs would be adequate for their purposes. Reports from John McDougall Stuart’s earlier expeditions were also examined (Scherer, 1975:3). Eventually it was decided that the Immanuel Synod would retain the Bethesda Mission and that the South Australian Synod, together with the Hermannsburg Missionary Society, should establish a new mission on the Finke River in Central Australia (Leske 1977: 7). The Missions Committee was dissolved. In 1874 the South Australian Synod was granted 200 square miles for a reserve, reportedly increased to 900 square miles by the South Australian government, who also promised a supply of rations for the Aborigines (Scherer, 1975:3).
A well was sunk on 8 June 1877 (Lohe, 1977:13). The first structures to be erected at the mission site were a fowl pen of grass and bush materials, a small sheep yard and a dog-house (Scherer, 1975:48). Sheep shearing commenced soon after arrival. The first building was constructed of timber with a thatched reed roof and sandstone flagging. It is believed that this building was later replaced with a stone building used as a dining room, chapel and dwelling.
Work on buildings at Hermannsburg commenced in 1877, possibly by Gerhardt Johannsen, with assistance from some Aboriginal men. A lime-kiln was built, and building materials including stone, lime, clay and timber were readily available (Isaacs, 2000:17, Lohe, 1977:15). Buildings erected in the first decade included: the first timber dwelling single room (20’x 24’) (1877); the first stone building (1877) with later additions of a 6 foot lean to skillion and a partition wall (the front half was used as a dining room and chapel, the latter for accommodation); a stone house thatched with grass, and a wooden building with a reed roof and a bush shelter for wagons (1878); a kitchen (stone 20’x15’) (1878); a church-school stone (30’x16’ - the chapel occupying 12x16 ft.; a verandah 6’ft wide encircled the whole) (1880); a stone smithy (1882); a stone Colonists Residence (1885) and a stone manse (1888) (Leske, 1977:13; Heritage Conservation Services, 2003).
The first date palm was planted near the first stone dwelling in 1877 and by the following year a garden was established on the floodplains of the Finke River with an initial abundance of vegetables, fruit trees and date palms, watered by an irrigation system.
The missionaries’ objectives were to ‘civilise’ and Christianise the Aboriginal inhabitants: to train them in useful industries, make the station as self-supporting as possible, and teach them Christian ways (Scherer, 1989:362). Two Aboriginal men were the first to visit the mission in August 1877, and over the next three months larger groups of 70 – 80 men visited, camping nearby (Scherer, 1975:66). With time increasing numbers of men, women and children came into Hermannsburg, although the population tended to fluctuate. Lohe (1977:15) notes that the distribution of government rations (from the late 1870’s) brought about a more stable population, and the missionaries used rations as a means of gathering children for schooling (Harris, 1990:388). It appears likely that Aboriginal people camped on the edges of the mission settlement in this early period.
While the missionaries’ first impressions of the Aborigines were that they were ‘degenerate, living like animals’, naked, eating distasteful things and sleeping in the open, they concluded that the Aborigines were not as ‘stupid’ and ‘depraved’ as some ‘civilised’ people believed. They thought them physically handsome, and not lacking in intelligence (Harris, 1990:387). Schulze wrote:
The missionaries soon gathered the children for schooling, partly to educate and partly to segregate them from their elders, and were quick to notice their ‘intelligence’ and ‘rapid learning’ (Harris, 1990:388). As the numbers of Aboriginal children attending increased, work commenced on a school-church in May 1880 with assistance from local Aboriginal people. The first religious instruction classes were commenced in 1880, and in May 1887 the first seven Aboriginal teenagers were baptised (Scherer, 1975:84).
Soon after arriving the missionaries decided to learn the local language to better communicate and spread their message. Carols and a reading primer were produced in Arrernte in 1880, and in 1881, the first Arrernte book of Christian instruction and worship was compiled by Missionary Kempe and printed at Hermannsburg, Hanover. In 1888 Kempe compiled the first dictionary and grammar in the Arrernte language. A treatise on the habits and customs of the Finke River Aboriginal people was published by Missionary Schulze during this time, while in 1890 a 54 page ‘Grammer and vocabulary of the language spoken by the Aborigines of the MacDonnell Ranges’ was produced by the Royal Society of South Australia (Lutheran nd). It is understood that some of the school lessons were initially undertaken in German (Isaacs, 2000:72). The mission had a bilingual education program – in English and Arrente – until the late 1930s (Isaacs, 2000:42).
By 1879 almost all the land surrounding Hermannsburg Mission had been occupied by cattle stations, and open conflict arose between the pastoralists and the missionaries over the harsh treatment of Aborigines (Leske, 1977:17). Towards the end of 1883 there were also serious outbreaks of hostilities between Aborigines and white station owners; a number of Aborigines were shot, and many fled to the mission for safety (Harris, 1990:389). Although armed police had been stationed in remote parts of the colony by the South Australian government to ensure the success of pastoral invastion, some of the worst atrocities were perpetuated by the police (Harris, 1990:392). By 1885, Kemp believed that they were observing genocide (Harris, 1990:390). It has been estimated that approximately 700 Aboriginal people were shot between 1881 and 1891 in the area around Alice Springs (Isaacs, 2000:18). Pastor Schwarz wrote in 1884:
Pastor Schwarz brought the matter into the public arena, sparking heated debate in the press. The pastoralist lobby claimed that the missionaries were flogging Aborigines (which may have contained some elements of truth (Harris, 1990)). A joint Government investigation was conducted, with charges laid on both sides, and reported to parliament in 1890 (Leske, 1977:18). However, perhaps due to the involvement of Mounted Constable W. H. Willshire in the investigation (a notoriously brutal man, allegedly responsible for shooting many Aboriginal people), no charges were laid and matters were left (Harris, 1990:393-94).
The conflict led to a feeling of disillusionment amongst the missionaries, exacerbated by isolation, diet, harsh climate, overwork and subsequent ill health. All of the missionaries left Hermannsburg by 1891. Hartwig (1965:510, 520-525) has argued that the mission had limited impact on the local Arrernte people at this time. He suggests that while they cooperated with the mission to receive rations and other benefits available, this was limited because most people left once rations were distributed, and the religious converts were not people with strong influence amongst the Arrernte. However there were inevitable changes in settlement and subsistence practices as a result of contact with Europeans (Heritage Conservation Services, 2003:11). Present day Aboriginal people’s stories about this early establishment phase and the intersection of Arrente laws and ‘white-man’s laws’ have been explored by Austin-Broos (1994, 1996). She found that their narratives represented very different perspectives and rendering of events, and that such narratives were often used by Arrente people to canvass the relations between ‘two laws’, as well as making statements of attachment to the social order of the mission (Austin-Broos, 1994). The intersection of the Christianity and Arrente beliefs is also seen in Aboriginal artists stories told to Isaacs (Isaacs, 2000:73-74).
In May 1894 Professor Baldwin Spencer passed through Hermannsburg as a member of the Horn Scientific Exploration Expedition to Central Australia, commenting on the general disrepair of the place and the worth of the mission:
In 1896 efforts were made to reconstruct many buildings, as the number of Aboriginal people at the mission had increased to over 100 and 24 children were enrolled in the school. Strehlow indicated that the mission house with six rooms and two kitchens was to be kept in addition to a second house with six rooms and kitchen, two houses with thatched roofs, a smithy, a store and the meat house (transferred to the storehouse in approximately 1903). The old church-school and eating house were to be demolished to make way for new buildings. A new church was opened and dedicated on Christmas Day 1896 (Lutheran nd). Other buildings constructed during this period included the schoolhouse (1896), Strehlows residence (1897, additions 1905, 1912, 1920), Messhouse (1896) and the Boys Dormitory (undated). The Girls Dormitory was probably built at the same time. It was a stone building north of the Manse (destroyed by fire in 1954) (Radford, 1983:35). Aboriginal people lived in traditional groupings on the outskirts of the station, although one sources states that ‘pensioners’, the old, sick and schoolchildren occupied huts within the compound (probably located north of the manse and the school, date not specified) (Radford, 1983:47). A photograph dating from c 1920 by H. A. Heinrich shows an Aboriginal hut made of spinifex grass with a domed circular roof (Isaacs, 2000:18). G. Haem[m]erling and D. Hart were responsible for construction of the buildings (Leske 1977: 24-25). Iron roofs were installed on all residences and galvanized iron tanks were installed (around 1903). Wells were also sunk close to the houses.
Hermannsburg was run as a cattle station during this period. (Lohe, 1977:26). Following the sale of sheep in 1901, cattle and horses remained, and camels were introduced to transport goods from Oodnadatta to Hermannsburg (Leske, 1977:26). Isaacs describes the increasing movement of Aboriginal families to the Hermannsburg area with the arrival of the cattle industry (Isaacs, 2000:18-19). Aboriginal involvement in mission activities, including the building program and stock work increased, although Strehlow reported that people were reluctant to work without supervision and generally returned to the bush during good seasons. The prolonged drought from 1897 to 1907 virtually destroyed the mission economy, and many Aboriginal people from outlying areas came into Hermannsburg seeking food and refuge (Leske 1977:26). It is reported that non-Christian Arrernte were barred from living on the mission, instead camping on the fringe, and were excluded from food from the communal kitchen (Mulvaney, 1989:141). There were reportedly tensions between Aboriginal people from different tribal groups within Hermannsburg at this time. Perhaps due to ill-health, outbreaks of measles (1898) and whooping cough (1900) occurred, resulting in a number of deaths (Lohe, 1977:26; Heritage Conservation Services, 2003).
Traditional Aboriginal ceremonies and dances were still being undertaken close to the mission during this period. Major ceremonies were held in 1898 and 1908, and Christian Aboriginal people were present, and sometimes took part (Strehlow, 2002). During his mission at Hermannsburg, Strehlow embarked upon further linguistic work and commenced intensive ethnographic and anthropological research on Arrente and Luritja groups, to be continued by his son T. G. H. Strehlow (and extended to include other Aboriginal groups). His work included:
A long and bitter controversy developed between Carl Strehlow and Walter Baldwin Spencer, formerly Professor of Biology at Melbourne University, and Chief Protector of Aborigines of the Northern Territory from 1911. They developed distinctly different views on key aspects of Arrernte society and culture: Spencer’s views were firmly embedded in a social Darwininan evolutionary view of human development (Harris, 1990:404), undoubtedly stemming from his background in biological sciences, while Strehlow was a Christian theologist (Barratt, 1993:8). Their field techniques also differed to some extent: Strehlow was a skilled linguist, yet refused to attend traditional ceremonies and thus relied on oral tradition for his descriptions of totemic ceremonies (Barratt, 1993:5). Spencer and his colleague Gillen attended ceremonies, yet Spencer had no knowledge of the Arrente language, and Gillen’s translations have been questioned (Veit, 1991:115-116).
Between 1900 and 1921, Strehlow, together with Lutheran missionaries J. G. Reuther and O. Liebler gathered large collections of Aboriginal artefacts for sale, actively marketing these items in Europe (Jones, 1996:246). Strehlow sold at least nine collections of Arrernte artefacts to German and Swiss museums between 1906 and 1922 (over 1600 objects), and some were given to his editor. It is believed that many of these collections were lost in WWII. Strehlow systematically documented his ethnographic transactions with Aborigines. He obtained his collections in exchange for European commodities of flour, tea and sugar (Jones, 1996:246). It would appear that Aboriginal artefacts became a significant part of the Hermannsburg mission economy in the pre-war period (Jones, 1996:252).
Challenges during this period included financial problems, changes of state government control, internal tensions between missionaries and poor communications with officials. The Government sought to extend its control over Aboriginal people in this period, and in 1910, the Northern Territory Aboriginals Act 1910 provided for the custody, maintenance and education of the children of Aboriginals’, and the Chief Protector was appointed as the ‘legal guardian of every Aboriginal and every half-caste child up to the age of 18 years’ whether or not the child had parents or other living relatives (National Inquiry, 1997). The Chief Protector was also given power to confine ‘any Aboriginal or half-caste’ to a reserve or Aboriginal institution. In 1911, the Commonwealth took over control of the Northern Territory, and these powers were further extended under the Northern Territory Ordiance 1911 and again in 1918. Concern over ‘half-caste’ children in the Northern Territory saw the forced removal of many children from their families from this period, up until the 1970s (National Inquiry, 1997).
With the advent of Commonwealth legislation, the conduct of the mission started to be subject to close Government scrutiny. Official investigations were conducted into the Lutheran missionaries’ treatment of Aborigines commencing in 1911, and early critical reports received widespread publicity in the Australian press (Lohe, 1977:30). Later reports, including an investigation by Basedow in 1920 on Aboriginal health, were more positive. While the Government gave instructions to the mission regarding its program, it did not force the mission to close.
Towards the end of this period there was considerable anti-German pressure as a result of the social attitudes to German migrants and settlers during WWI (1914-1918) (Lohe, 1977:31). Perceived of as a German institution, many Australians called for the closure of Hermannsburg. While the Federal Cabinet decided to renew the missions’ lease, the annual subsidy was eliminated until 1923 (Lohe, 1977:31).
In 1922 Strehlow’s health failed and he departed the mission for Adelaide. Unfortunately he died en route at Horseshoe Bend, where his grave remains today. Journey to Horseshoe Bend, written by T. G. H. Strehlow and later performed as an opera with the Ntaria Ladies Choir at the Sydney Opera House tells this story (ABC, 2003). Isaacs’ suggests that Strehlow is revered in the memories of many Aranda people today as Inkata, the founder of the community, the original hardworking man of God (Isaacs, 2000:21).
In 1923 the mission was again the subject of Federal Government investigations into the `difficult problem' of control of the Territory's Aboriginal population, including ‘half-castes’ and Aborigines, undertaken by Professor Baldwin Spencer. While the government did not act upon Spencers’ recommendations, it concluded that ‘industrial training of the natives had been neglected’, and they agreed an attempt was being made to alter this (Isaacs, 2000:22). Consideration was given to establishing a training centre for Aborigines at Hermannsburg, yet this was not acted upon (Leske, 1977:35).
Pastor F. W. Albrecht arrived at Hermannsburg Mission in 1926, at the beginning of a severe drought that did not break until 1929. It was closely followed by the Great Depression. While Aboriginal workers were paid a wage and expected to feed their families, the system of sharing with relatives meant this was seldom sufficient. The mission also fed the old, infirm and mothers with small children (Albrecht, 1977:43) (an analysis of the rationing system in Central Australia, including Hermannsburg Mission, has been undertaken by Rowse, 1989). It appears the missionaries recognised that ration distribution made people more reliant on mission food and less able to hunt traditional bush foods (losing skills); and probably contributed to the poor health of Aboriginal people at this time. There were several measles outbreaks (late 1920s – early 1930s), a whooping cough epidemic and a severe outbreak of scurvy resulting in many deaths, including 85% of children (Heritage Conservation Services, 2003). During the drought, Aboriginal people from outlying areas were drawn to Hermannsburg as their traditional food and water supplies diminished. Simultaneously, Aboriginal people who lived near the railway construction settlements were relocated at the mission for social reasons, putting a strain on resources (Radford, 1983:9).
Pastor Albrecht realised the need for a regular water supply, and to raise funds, established a craft industry at the Mission. Items such as pokerwork boomerangs and polished mulga wood plaques were made to sell to tourists; Albert Namatjira became particularly accomplished at this work (Mackenzie, 1988:16-18). At this same time (early 1930s) Melbourne artists Una and Violet Teague visited Hermannsburg. Concerned at the effect of the drought on the Aborigines, the sisters held an art exhibition in Melbourne in 1934 to raise money for a water pipeline from Kaporilja Springs to the mission. The exhibition contained over a hundred donated works by fifty artists and writers, including Arthur Streeton, Hans Heysen, Arthur Boyd and Rex Battarbee (who later visited Hermannsburg in 1934), and the money raised was supplemented by appeals in the Melbourne Argus and the Adelaide Advertiser (Australian Exhibitions Touring Agency, 1991:25). A pokerwork boomerang depicting the laying of the pipeline was made by Albert Namatjira to celebrate the pipelines completion.
A receiving tank was installed, and a number of dams were later built in 1942 (Albrecht, 1977:65-67). Additional infrastructure and renovations to existing buildings occurred during this time, including the installation of five underground tanks (1927-1930); construction of a mortuary (1936), the Maids quarters (1933), the original tannery building (1941) and the Kitchen-Bakehouse-Dining Room (c1947-48); additions of a washhouse and fence to the Manse (1927); and various renovations. In the 1930s, there were several rows of Aboriginal houses north of the Manse and the school, built of stone and concrete, some with chimneys and stone floors (demolished in the 1960s) (Radford, 1983:47).
Advancements at the mission facilitated the development of new industries and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people, seen as a priority by the mission and essential for economic reasons. Various options were explored, some more successfully than others, including the establishment of a tannery (processing bullock hides and kangaroo skins); small-scale cattle ventures through the Aboriginal Pastoralist Association (1944-c1959); and an expansion of the handcraft industry, producing brush-ware, mulga-ware, artefacts, decorative pokerwork, embroidery, fur-goods, needlework and clay sculpture (Albrecht, 1977:68-75; Scherer, 1989:363). Other industries included the supply of meat to the Army depot in Alice Springs during the war, and trade with soldiers in leatherwork and curios (Heritage Conservation Services, 2003).
Hermannsburg was a port of call for numerous expeditions into the outback: by explorers, surveyors, anthropologists, medical researchers, gold-fossickers, artists, writers etc. It was also a springboard for rescue operations; for example, from here Bob Buck went out in search of Lasseter in 1931(Scherer, 1989:363). A visit by artist Rex Battarbee in the 1930s was a catalyst for the development of the Hermannsburg School of Watercolour, which came to provide significant income and fame for Albert Namatjira, and in time other Aboriginal artists (discussed further below). Aboriginal people on the mission had increased opportunities to develop relationships with the outside world from this time and engage with the broader economy (beyond the mission).
This period also saw significant effort expended in spreading the Christian message beyond Hermannsburg Mission. Following the initial work of Moses and others, Albrecht together with Aboriginal evangelists travelled out to more remote areas spreading the Christian word. Aboriginal evangelists were also sent to cattle stations at Henbury, Napperby, Jay Creek and Maryvale (Lutheran, nd). Over time ration depots and mission centres were set up at Haasts Bluff (first depot in 1941, taken over by Government in 1954), Papunya (1959) and Areyonga (Albrecht, 1977:54-64). The mission played an active role in protesting against grazing leases at Haasts Bluff, which was subsequently made into a permanent Aboriginal reserve in 1941.
Further Government investigations were undertaken during this period. In 1927, the Commonwealth Government, responding to pressure from the Association for the Protection of Native Races, set up an inquiry under J. W. Bleakley (Queensland Chief Protector of Aborigines), into its administration of Aboriginal affairs in the Territory (DEH, 2003). He reported on poor living conditions, lack of schooling and wages, poorly run Government institutions, but spoke favourably on the work of the missions. One of his recommendations was that the half-caste children at the Bungalow be sent to Hermannsburg (Heppell et al, 1981:15). Chief Protector Cook (1927-39), however, was fervently opposed to mission involvement, voicing concern about their approaches to the treatment of ‘half-castes’ and attempting to have the missions closed (DEH, 2003). Despite Government debates on the merits of both reports, Cooks’ views prevailed.
In 1946 Pastor F. W. Albrecht moved to Alice Springs, leaving Pastor Gross in charge of the mission. Leadership was then passed to Paul Albrecht (Lutheran nd).
In 1966 the Arbitration Commission granted equal wages to Aboriginal pastoral workers. Many pastoralists reacted by phasing out Aboriginal labour and driving Aboriginal communities off their properties. This, coupled with the drought, forced Aboriginal people to come into the mission and towns (Leske, 1977:1020). In the drought period, many mission cattle were agisted in the south, and it appears that a decision was made to end all meat rations: from 1967 all meat was purchased in bulk from Alice Springs and sold at virtual cost through the ‘meat house’ (Leske, 1977:102).
By the 1960’s the Finke River Mission had been consolidated as a field with six circuits – Hermannsburg (as the centre of work), Alice Springs, and the cattle stations of Alice Springs South, Alice Springs North, Areyonga and Papunya (Leske, 1977:99). With the amalgamation of the two main Lutheran synods in 1966, the mission became the responsibility of the enlarged Lutheran Church of Australia (Lutheran nd). In 1964 the first two Aboriginal pastors were ordained to the Holy Ministry at Hermannsburg - Conrad Raberaba and Peter Bulla, and evangelists schools were set up and run biannually. A two-language hymnal in Arrernte and English was completed in 1964 and published in 1965 with assistance from Adelaide Conservatorium of Music (Leske, 1977:95). The New Testament, translated into Arrente, was published in 1956, following revision of the original manuscript by T.G. H. Strehlow (Albrecht, 1977:83)
There were greater employment opportunities in this period, and social activities such as the Hermannsburg Choir flourished (ABC, 2003). However, there were also increasing social problems such as alcohol abuse, and the missionaries actively tried to stop Aboriginal people from visiting Alice Springs (Rowse, 1989:50-51).
This period saw a general growth of tourism in Central Australia, and the late 1950s-early 1960s there was a surge in visitors to the Centre and surrounding areas. Small numbers of tourists had been visiting Hermannsburg since the early 1930s, and the numbers increased after Bond Tours set up a tourist camp in Palm Valley in the mid 1950s, and a nearby chalet in the early 1960s. Tourists from the chalet received conducted tours of the mission, and artefacts were sold onsite. Private visitors were not encouraged until the 1970s, when improved roads allowed a one-day trip to Palm Valley (Heritage Conservation Services, 2003).
During the late 1960s and early 1970s Aboriginal people at Hermannsburg took on more decision-making roles: in 1974 a local Village Council was elected, followed by a Town Council and a School Council for dealing with community affairs. (Leske, 1977:97). This period coincided with the rise of the land rights movement during the late 1960s (Attwood et al, 1999:173), and the election of the Whitlam Labor Government in 1972.
In 1973 the Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights Commission was established, leading to the Aboriginal Land Rights Northern Territory Act 1976 (Cth). It has been suggested that the missionaries were opposed to the Land Rights Bill (refer Hagen, 1976 for a discussion on this).
Under a new Commonwealth Government policy of self-management, thousands of Aboriginal people moved out of the missions and settlements back onto their traditional lands – known as the ‘homelands and outstation movement’. Different views have been expressed on the reasons for the outstation movement at Hermannsburg, such as the missionaries desire to hand over the direction of work and property to Aboriginal people, (Leske, 1977:99); or a Arrernte-Lutheran initiative to decentralise the families at Hermannsburg as fighting and illicit drinking increased (Austin-Broos, 1994:139). One Western Arrernte man observed that the outstation movement was more a ‘decentralisation’ from Ntaria than a ‘land rights’ movement as such (Austin-Broos, 2001:4). The first outstation camp was established at Ellerys Creek about 16km away. By the end of 1974, there were nine outstations, and 33 by 1983. The outstations retained some contact with the mission, with teachers visiting some communities, and a supply truck visiting the outstations. Leske reported that some communities were keen to start small-scale industries (1977:115).
There was a significant element of cultural revitalisation in the outstation movement, and ceremonial activity was practiced more openly at this time, sometimes with missionary staff in attendance. Staff were told that while many ceremonies had never ceased, they had to be performed secretly and often in an abbreviated form (Albrecht, 1976:314; Pfitzner, 1976:316). From 1974 there also appears to have been an increased effort on the part of the missionaries to ‘try and see through Aboriginal eyes’, with the appointment of a team to research tribal laws, culture, customs and clan-group genealogies amongst Aboriginal people at Hermannsburg.
As a result of the outstation movement many of the facilities based at Hermannsburg became redundant. The mission relinquished their official ownership of Hermannsburg property to Aboriginal people in a ceremony on 2 June 1982, and it is now managed and run by the Ntaria Council.
During the 1970s large tour companies started visiting Hermannsburg, however this level of tourism could not be sustained, and declined between mid 1970 and 1982. Since that time, the Historic Precinct has functioned as a tourism venture, owned and managed by Ntaria Council.
In 1988 considerable Bicentenary funding was spent on buildings in the Historic Precinct. The Hermannsburg Historical Society was set up to manage the historic precinct, and a Conservation and Management Plan (CMP) for the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct was completed in November 2003.
From the late 1920s many artists visited the Centre, using it as a new icon to define Australia’s national and artistic identity (Megaw, 2000:198). Namatjira’s interest in painting was sparked by visits to the mission by various artists between 1932 and 1936, including Jessie Traill, Violet Teague, Una Teague and Arthur Murch. Artists Rex Batterbee and John Gardner visited in 1932, and again in 1934, and were the most important in terms of Namatjira’s development as an artist (Mackenzie, 1988). They showed their final works to the Hermannsburg community, Albert expressed interest in the work and proffered the view that he could also produce it (Albrecht, 1977:71).
When Battarbee returned in 1936, Albert accompanied him as a guide on a two month painting expedition, in exchange for learning how to paint with watercolours (Battarbee et al, 1971). In eight weeks he had mastered the finer details of watercolours, and his first paintings were sold in 1937. In 1942 the Lutheran Mission Art Advisory Council (also known as the ‘Committee’) was established to supervise the pricing, sale and standard of his work, with the mission handling the financial side of the venture (Albrecht, 1977:71).
His first solo exhibition was held at the Athenaeum Gallery in Melbourne in 1938, with all 47 paintings sold in three days. A second exhibition was held in Adelaide in 1939, and Namatjira sold his first work to a public gallery – the Art Gallery of South Australia (Albrecht, 1977:71). Subsequent exhibitions were held in the 1940s. His art was shown to the Duke of Gloucester in 1946, in 1953 he was awarded the Queens Coronation Medal, while in 1954 he meet Queen Elizabeth II and attended his own exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide (Horton, 1994:757).
Namatjira’s wealth accumulated, and in 1945 he built himself a cottage about three miles from the mission (Batty, 1963:55-57). He later moved out, and erected an Army disposals hut near the mission buildings. In 1949 he applied for an NT graziers lease, which was rejected and in 1951 his application to build a house in Alice Springs was also turned down (Horton, 1994:757). In the early 1950’s he spent some time camping at a waterhole at Morris’ Soak, a camp outside of Alice Springs, increasingly disillusioned with the society in which he lived (Mackenzie, 2000),
There were changes in the administration of his affairs during this period: in 1951 the mission, concerned about rumours of financial exploitation, relinquished management of Namatjira’s affairs, and the Native Affairs Branch of the Northern Territory Administration established the Aranda Arts Council (AAC) (French, 2002:16-17). Battarbee, Chairman of the AAC, worked as Namatjira’s agent until 1956 (Batty, 1963:91), and after this time it appears that Namatjira sold his work privately. Despite his reluctance, Namatjira and his wife Rubina were granted full citizenship in 1957 (Aboriginal people did not gain citizenship until 1967). He became a user of alcohol during this period, and served a short term in detention (jail and then open detention at Papunya Native Reserve) in 1958 for sharing alcohol with a relation who did not have citizenship (Horton, 1994:757). He was released from custody in May 1959, contracted pneumonia soon after and died on 8 August 1959 (Albrecht, 1977:73).
Albert’s work inspired his relatives to pursue watercolour painting, initiated in the 1940s with the establishment of the Aranda Arts Council (Battarbee et al, 1971). At first this was confined to close male relatives (e.g. sons, grandsons), many of whom also had close ties to the Arrernte evangelists. Some were taught by Namatjira and advised by Battarbee. Their work included animals, humans, people and mission life; however it was not initially widely exhibited or published. There were also some early women artists, although it appears women were not encouraged to continue painting (Batty, 1963:66; Megaw, 2000:201). Members of the Luritja-speaking Pannka family also became landscape painters.
These watercolour painters have become recognised artists in their own right, and come from a number of Aboriginal families (French, 2002:29-35). Their work primarily depicts landscapes, although in the 1950s a small group of artists also undertook Christian subjects, an amalgam of traditional Arrernte scenes and the religious images from the Lutheran Bibles and religious tracts used by the Aboriginal evangelists. Strehlow also noted that sacred tjuringa decoration and aspects of secret-sacred ceremonies were embedded in the works of some artists (Megaw, 2000:201).
Today the artists are women (Sharp, 2000:206). The work draws on Western Arrernte traditions, reaffirming connections to country while also actively incorporating elements from a wide range of contemporary influences. In addition to pots, the women produce large, tiled murals depicting Dreaming stories, landscapes, animals etc. Isaacs’ book Hermannsburg Potters: Aranda artists of Central Australia (2000) provides a history of the potters and stories told by many of the women artists about their lives and their work.
Hermannsburg pottery is located in private and institutional collections (e.g. the Australian National Gallery, the Darwin Museum, the Power Museum, Sydney) in Australia and overseas and is regularly exhibited (Knight, 1992:62; Sharp, 2000:206).
After serving in World War II, Strehlow returned to Central Australia, renewing his contacts with Aboriginal elders and building on the material that he had gathered during the 1930s. Assisted by research grants from various organisations, he made numerous lengthy visits to the region between 1946 and 1974. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, T. G. H. Strehlow commented influentially on Aboriginal affairs, policy and practice. The Strehlow Collection became a landmark in the Australian debate on the repatriation of Aboriginal material to Aboriginal communities, and Strehlow was a controversial figure in this debate.
T. G. H. Strehlow attracted many critics, and yet he was foremost a linguist and scholar of classics and European literature, and did not specifically train as an anthropologist (Jones, 2002:4). Strehlow's life's work resulted in one of Australia's most comprehensively documented collections of Australian indigenous culture. He wrote over one hundred papers, articles, and books, including Aranda Phonetics and Grammar, Aranda Traditions, and Songs of Central Australia. While not the work of an academic, this latter book translated and interpreted Arrernte songs, and introduced the concept of Aboriginal songlines to a broad audience. He also amassed a huge quantity of artefacts, myths, songs, photographs, films, sound recordings, diaries and translations which are currently stored at the Strehlow Research Centre. Strehlow’s records of Arrernte culture have become significant for Aboriginal land claims and native title. He died in 1978.
 Note that in this period, the annexation of states was still occurring. South Australia separated from NSW in 1853. The Northern Territory was part of South Australia from 1853 to 1910.
 Angas had intended the new colony to be a ‘place of refuge for pious Dissenters from Great Britain’, but the largest group of such dissenters was the German Lutherans (Stevens, 1994:6).
 Owen Spring was the first cattle lease established in Central Australia (Scherer, 1975).
|Condition and Integrity|
remaining structures/buildings at Hermannsburg Historic
Precinct vary in the level of conservation or restoration works required to
bring them to their optimum state. Major
conservation works were carried out in the late 1980’s and further works
were undertaken in 2005, focusing on six of the major buildings, ie. the Church, Strehlow’s Cottage, Old Colonists Residence, Old
School, Meathouse and Correspondence School, which would be “fully
restored”. The remaining buildings
are in varying states of repair and all are due for full restoration under the
Conservation Management Plan (2003).|
About 3ha, 140km west of Alice Springs on Larapinta Drive,
comprising Lot 196 (A) township of Hermannsburg as delineated on Survey Plan
1976 ‘Winds of change’, The Lutheran,
12 July, 10(14).|
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Radford, R. 1983 Report on the social and structural history of the Finke River Mission buildings, Hermannsburg, Ntaria, Central Australia, Prepared for the National Trust of Australia (Northern Territory).
Raworth, B. 1998 Ebenezer Mission Architectural Survey, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
Rowse, T. 1989 White flour, white power ? Colonial authority, rationing and the family in Central Australia, PhD Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney.
Rowse, T. 1999 ‘The collector as outsider – T. G. H. Strehlow as ‘public intellectual’, Strehlow Research Centre Occasional Paper 2, p.61-120.
Scherer, P. A. 1975 Venture of faith – an epic in Australian missionary history, Lutheran Publishing House, Adelaide, South Australia.
Scherer, P. A. 1989 ‘Hermannsburg: A Northern Territory mission’, in Coupe, S. (ed) Australias outback heritage – frontier country, Volume 1. Weldon Russell Pty Ltd.
Sharp, N. 2000 ‘Hermannsburg potters’, in Kleinert, S., M. Neale and R. Bancroft (eds) The Oxford companion to Aboriginal art and culture, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, p.205-206.
Stevens, C. 1994 White Man’s Dreaming: Killalpaninna Mission, 1866-1915 OUP, Melbourne.
Strehlow, J. 2002 ‘Shifting focus – T. G. H. Strehlow and the Carl Strehlow legacy’, Paper delivered at the Strehlow Conference, Alice Springs, 18 September 2002.
United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia, Hope Vale Mission Board¸ 1885-1975 Records of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia Hope Vale Mission Board [manuscript] (www.aiatsis.gov.au/lbry/ms/finding_aid/MS2369.htm).
Veit, W. 1991 ‘In search of Carl Strehlow: Lutheran missionary and Australian anthropologist, in Walker, D. and J. Tampke (eds) From Berlin to Burdekin: The German contribution to the development of Australian science, exploration and the arts, NSW University Press.
Winnecke, C. 1894 Horn Scientific Exploring Expedition survey of Hermannsburg Mission station in the Northern Territory of South Australia [cartographic material], Surveyor General’s Office, Adelaide: A. Vaughan, photolithographer. Held by National Library of Australia (Copy also in Hermannsburg Historic Precinct – Conservation Management Plan, opposite p.12).
Wood, V., and C. Westell 1999, Point Pearce Social History Project, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, a National Estate Grants project for the Australian Heritage Commission.
Young, G. et al, 1977 Barossa Survey, Final report of a research project by the School of Architecture SA, Institute of Technology and the Dept of History Adelaide CAE for the Australian Heritage Commission.
Gus Williams, Chairperson, Ntaria Council. August 2005.
Pastor Ron Buchold, Facilitator with the Finke River Mission, Alice Springs. Phone discussion 29 April 2005.
Michael Harris, Principal, Ntaria School, Ntaria. August 2005.
Lily Roenfeldt, Ntaria. August 2005.
Pastor David Roenfeldt, Parish worker and linguist, Finke River Mission (based at Ntaria). August 2005.
Steve Scarlett, Hermannsburg Historical Society (based in Alice Springs). August – October 2005.
Report Produced Wed Sep 24 04:06:40 2014