Alice Springs Region

Northern Territory

After our sojourn in Queensland, we flew from Cairnes to Alice Springs, the second largest town in the Northern Territory and located near the geographic center of Australiala. Most whites call it "the Alice" or just "Alice." The Arrernte people, who have lived in the region for more than 50,000 years, call it "Mparntwe." Don't make me pronounce that! At the time we visited, its population was 26,486 but I didn't have the impression of that many people.

I am pretty sure that I shot photos of Todd Mall and other parts of the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct, but those photos seem to have vanished, the only such loss of the trip. Fortunately, I found these public-domain photos.

Alice Springs Cultural Precinctt
Alice Springs - Todd Mall


The area west of Alice Springs, en route to Palm Valley, includes the Aboriginal town of Hermannsburg. The region is semiarid, receiving an average of 27 inches per year of rainfall, which can be spread across the year or can fall in a single week. Average evaporation is approximately 34 inches per year, so most areas lose more water than they receive.

Ntaria Aboriginal Reserve

Brumbies (left) are wild horses and have been in this region since the 19th century. Considered a pest, in recent years they have been successfully fenced out of many sensitive park areas. For many years, brumbies were gathered and slaughtered for dog food. At right, in the distance, you can see the West MacDonnell Ranges, a dominant geological feature.

Ntaria Aboriginal Reserve - Brumbies
Ntaria Aboriginal Reserve - view of West MacDonnell Ranges

Historic Hermannsburg

Established by the Lutheran Church in 1877, Hermannsburg was the the first Aborignal mission in the Northern Territory. In 1982, control of the land was returned to the Western Aranda people under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Today, the 390,000 hectare former Mission lease is divided into five areas based on traditional family associations. Freehold title is held by the Uruna, Roulpmaulpma, Ltalantuma, and Ntaria land trusts. And yes, I spelled those names correctly.

The most famous resident of Hermannsburg -- probably the only famous resident -- was artist Albert Namajira. Namajira's watercolor landscapes of his home region are considered masterworks and are mostly held in private collections, so the originals are rarely seen.

The Manse Museum

The Manse was built in 1888 as a residence for the missionary assisting Pastor Strehlow and was restored in 1992. It is now a museum and holds watercolors by Hermannsburg artists, mostly in the style of Albert Namajira.

Manse Museum, Hermannsburg

The Church, Built in 1897

Hermannsburg church interior
Hermannsburg church exterior
Hermannsburg church organ

More Historic Hermannsburg and Vicinity

Due to unreliable rainfall and difficulties in obtaining underground supplies, five collection tanks were built, including the 1927-vintage tank at far left. Second from left are the dormitories, and third from left is some old machinery. One of Albert Namajira's famous paintings shows two trees near Hermannsburg that, when viewed at the right angle, look like a single tree (far right).

Hermannsburg collection tank
Hermannsburg outbuildings
Hermannsburg aging equipment
Namajira trees

This photo was taken from the parking lot of the general store in modern Hermannsburg, an Aranda farming community.

Farm area near modern Hermannsburg


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