Aranda Aboriginal pupils with Pastor C. Strehlow

Mission history

The Hermannsburg Mission was established in 1877 following an arduous 20 month journey from South 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 of the German Lutheran community in South Australia

Most of the formal histories relating to the mission have been written from the perspective of the white missionaries and the experiences recounted relating to Aboriginal people are therefore filtered through the experiences and understandings of the male authors. The narratives in this theme are counter-balanced against the anecdotal and personal account in the theme ‘Living on the Mission’. 

The history of the Arrarnta Lutheran community is constantly evolving. Today, the mission buildings lay empty and they sit alongside the growing town of Ntaria. The ownership of the heritage precinct is in the hands of the local Western Arrarnta people who are represented by the Hermannsburg Historical Society, with the Finke River Mission acting as managers. Through close cooperation between these two bodies, this nationally significant heritage site is maintained and operated.

Explore the historic precinct