Hermannsburg Here We Come
[In 2013, the T-Team, next generation embarked on their pilgrimage to Central Australia. Purpose: to scatter Dad’s ashes in his beloved Central Australia, in Ormiston Gorge.
Over the next few weeks, I will take you on a virtual trip to the Centre and memories of that unforgettable holiday in 2013, with my brother and his family; the T-Team Next Generation.
This time, the T-K Team (my husband and I) return to Hermannsburg and catch up with friends there.]
As we powered along the sealed Larapinta Highway, I mused, what a difference some 60-70 years makes. When Mum T lived in Hermannsburg, back in the 1940’s and 50’s, the trip to Alice Springs was a long arduous half-a-day journey on a dirt track in a truck where one spent several days in Alice Springs stocking up on supplies.
As we passed the turn off to Jay creek, I said Anthony, ‘Mum told us the story of her mum (Grandma Gross) who, when the Finke flooded, had to wade through the waters to reach the other side to continue the journey to Alice Springs. She was 8-months pregnant at the time.’
‘Hard to imagine the creek flooding,’ Anthony glanced at the dip, a dry riverbed, that signalled the up-coming fork in the road leading the Hermannsburg. ‘But I know from camping in the Flinders Ranges, at the first drops of rain, you don’t hang around, you get out.’
‘Your mum and friend didn’t when they camped at Parachilna,’ I said. ‘They were stuck there on an island with the river all around them for days.’
‘I know, my mum’s friend liked to take risks.’
A sign with an image of a cow, and below written, “Beware of wandering stock”, flashed by. Brumbies galloped on the side, as if racing with us. Hawks soared in the cobalt blue sky above. A lone wedge-tail eagle, having gorged on a carcass of roadkill, waddled off the road just in time, avoiding the same fate as its feed.
This time, when we arrived in Hermannsburg, we made a beeline for the FRM (finke River Mission) store where we located our friend, P. He welcomed us and gave us a tour of the store. So much bigger than in 1981; more like the size of our local IGA store in size and shelves fully stocked. It even stocked fridges and washing machines. P proudly showed us the bakery where fresh bread is made each day and he introduced us to the Indigenous workers at the store.
After settling into our P and K’s home, we spent the afternoon drinking coffee and storytelling with P and K. Storytelling continued over dinner. Much had changed since the T-team visited in 1981. The population of Hermannsburg has now grown to 600, the Finke River Mission still exists there, and the Christian community is growing. However, there remain challenges for the Indigenous community as there are in communities all over Australia, and the world. ‘It just is,’ as P stated, ‘we’re at the coal-face, being a small, isolated outback community; you see everything…’
‘Whereas,’ I concluded, ‘in the city it’s hidden by numbers, a larger population and behind the walls of our castles.’ Then I changed the subject. ‘Oh, by the way, this is the house I stayed in when the T-Team visited Hermannsburg in 1981.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021