Alice Springs – Hermannsburg – Palm Valley (147kms)
Our first stop was the Old Mission at Hermannsburg. This was established in the 1880s by German Lutherans, and at the time was the biggest settlement in Central Australia, and Alice Springs was a mere telegraph station. The mission was concerned with ministering to the Indigenous peoples in the area, both their physical and spiritual needs. One the the major figures in Hermannsburg was Pastor Albrecht, who was born in Poland, and apparently spoke Polish, Russian and German. Just after he arrived a series of calamaties befell the mission, including: …drought and scurvy(?) The mission was also central to John Flynn’s idea of establishing a medical service, and they ran one of the first pedal-powered radios here. It should be noted that the mission did not participate in the enforced abduction of mixed race children by the government.
Perhaps, their greatest claim to fame, was a “native son” of Hermannsburg, Albert Namatjira, who achieved worldwide recognition as an artist. He painted watercolours in the European style, and his depictions of ghost gums are probably the most well known. He achieved internal recognition for his work, which are displayed in galleries around the world. We visited his house, about 5kms west of H., and it was rather sad. His modest 2-room cottage was basically just that; no information boards, no recreation of his working conditions; and very little, apart from the sign, to mark it as his place of abode.
We headed south along a 4WD track (actually suitable for 2WD vehicles) to the Palm Valley campsite. It was a beautiful site beside the newly filled river, and you just breathed out, relaxed, and enjoyed the beauty.
After setting up camp, we proceeded up the valley on a 4WD-only route. It was very rough and knarly track, with steep rocky sections, and 5 river crossings, some deep enough to reach the door sills; very exciting! We did a short 2km walk up the valley, and back along the surrounding cliffs. It was quite breathtaking, with the palm trees and cicads catching the evening light, and the low sun glinting off the rock pools.
I know I have said this before but .. if you get a chance .. go there.