Hermannsburg Adventure

One of the blessings of being retired is being able to travel at will. In 2018, my husband, Alan, and I decided to volunteer at Hermannsburg for four months.

We arrived in Alice Springs on 14 April and attended church there on Sunday before heading out to Hermannsburg.

We set up our van in the Historic Precinct and were greeted with the news that the manager, and his assistant, needed to be away for a week. So, I had some training in selling Indigenous Art and collecting entry fees before being left on my own for a week. It was an enjoyable challenge. I spent most of my time working in this area (bought quite a bit of art) and learnt a great deal about the local art. Often I was needed in the coffee shop to wash dishes and fold serviettes etc. There was always something to do.

We found that the employees of Finke River Mission (FRM) were very welcoming and thankful for our assistance.

Alan volunteered as a general handyman. He fixed drains; cleaned filters at the dialysis unit; drove the truck to Alice to pick up stock for the FRM store; constructed beds for the locals; repaired vehicles for Grey Nomads; gyprocked walls; washed dishes in the tea rooms; cleaned toilets and much more. He was often asked what he could do, and his reply was: “What do you want done?”

Sunday morning was always set aside for church. Most Sundays the service was conducted by one of the local pastors in western Aranda. On a few occasions, Pastor Marcus beckoned Alan up to do a reading with no warning. The singing by the congregation was amazing. Several of the members are part of the Central Australian Women’s Choir. On a weekend prior to the choir travelling to America, they practised in the old church in the precinct. Amazing is an understatement! At one point, a German visitor was sitting in the back of the church, listening to them sing, with tears running down her face.

The people we met were so welcoming. Alan and I are suffering withdrawal symptoms and can’t wait to return. It’s on our wish list for 2020!

To hear the indigenous residents tell stories about the Lutheran missionaries, and how they still respect them, is wonderful. As Lutherans we can be proud of the heritage at this site and I hope that you will all consider a visit in the future. Please keep the workers in your prayers as it is an ongoing mission. May God bless them all.

About the Author

Sue Waterson

Sue is a member at St Matthew’s Lutheran Church, NSW Central Coast, Woy Woy.

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