Hermannsburg is located 125km south-west of Alice Springs, NT, on the Finke River within the MacDonnell Ranges, in the traditional lands of the Western Arrernte people. Established in 1877 at a sacred site known as Ntaria, it was conceived as an Aboriginal mission by two Lutheran missionaries A. Hermann Kemp (sometimes spelled Kempe) and Wilhelm F. Schwarz of the Hermannsburg Missionary Society from Germany, who had travelled overland from in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.
They brought with them 37 horses, 20 cattle and 2,000 sheep. The mission land holdings were large, approximately 233,099 hectares (2,300 square kilometres), and later expanded to 310,799 hectares (3,108 square kilometres), but the Arrarnta people’s traditional territory covered a much larger area and by 1879, when all the land surrounding the mission had been occupied by cattle stations, tension began to mount. The mission then became a place of refuge for Arrarnta people in that they were protected somewhat from the graziers and the police.
Now a historic precinct, the mission was managed by Lutheran missionaries and the Lutheran Church until 1982 and is the last surviving mission developed by the Hermannsburg Missionary Society in Germany under the influence of the German Lutheran community in South Australia.
Today indigenous students ride from Hermannsburg to Alice Springs each year for ANZAC Day. The five-day ride sees students acknowledge the role of Indigenous people in the Australian Defence Forces and the Central Desert brumbies used by the Light Horse Infantry during the First World War, as well as celebrates their significant contribution to agricultural enterprise as prize horse and stockmen.