Aboriginal people outside thatched huts 1923

Stories

There are  many stories to be told about Hermannsburg and some of them are recounted here from a mixture of written sources and oral histories. 

A mission that operated for 150 years, a people that owned this country for millennia, foreign colonists under resourced and struggling in the harsh Australian outback, a history of frontier violence and sanctuary, years of drought and illness and heartbreak, enduring  friendships and a community that continues to grow and evolve in response to the changes in the world around them; there are  many stories to be told about Hermannsburg and some of them are recounted here from a mixture of written sources and oral histories. 

Over time it is hoped that stories will be added recording the recollections of community members handed down over the generations. An oral history component was planned for this project but like many projects in 2020, these plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and remains an important priority of the Hermannsburg History Committee.

The stories collected here have been roughly grouped under the following headings:
  • History of the Mission
  • Living on the Mission
  • Arrarnta Creativity
  • Arrarnta Culture
  • People and Relationships
  • Speaking Arrarnta

We hope you enjoy exploring them. 

For those that want to dig deeper we include some addition references to explore.

The Strehlow children: Friedrich standing at back
The Strehlow children: Friedrich standing at back. Martha sitting with Rudolf right and Hermann on her left.1905. Source State Library of South Australia B42442

A wealth of stories and historical treasures

The backdrop to the stories is the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct which reflects the principal characteristics of bush missions.  It includes, based on a modified ‘village green’ layout, with a central church bordered by residential buildings and communal facilities, including a school and eating house.  Against this backdrop the people of Hermannsburg worked, laughed, cried and worshipped building a legacy that continues to shape the settlement of Ntaria.

Explore the stories

Go deeper into the stories

Aboriginal people outside thatched huts 1923
Aboriginal people outside thatched huts 1923. Source Lutheran Archives
The Hermannsburg compound in 1941
The Hermannsburg compound in 1941. Source the Gross family album.
New (current) Bethlehem Church
New (current) Bethlehem Church. Lutheran Archives Photographer, Glenda Schiller