We took the opportunity to book a 4wd tour to Palm Valley while in Alice Springs and go to a place our motorhomes wouldn’t be capable of taking us. On the way to Palm Valley we travelled alongside the amazing West MacDonnell Ranges to Hermannsburg, the historical site of an old Lutheran mission. I know I posted photos of the West Macs in my last post but here’s a selection from the trip to Hermannsburg. As you can see it was a very overcast day and it looked like a storm was threatening although all we got was a misty low cloud hanging over us at its worst. But the sky was amazing…
On the way to Hermannsburg we stopped at an Albert Namatjira Memorial. Namatjira was raised at Hermannsburg and the place is credited with encouraging his ability.
Then it was on to Hermannsburg.
Hermannsburg Mission was managed by the Lutherans continuously from 1877 to 1982. The structures and landscaping of the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct reflect the changing phases of missionary and government policy towards Aboriginal people over this period.
The mission functioned as a refuge for Aboriginal people during the violent frontier conflict that was a feature of early pastoral settlement in central Australia. The Lutheran missionaries helped mediate conflict between pastoralists, the police and Aboriginal people, and spoke out publicly about the violence, sparking heated national debate.
The I have been told that the first Lutheran minister took 20 months to walk from Adelaide with his companions to establish the mission at Hermannsburg – what a trek that must have been, with no roads and not knowing where there would be water in this hot dry inland. Strehlow was another of their Lutheran pastors and it is interesting to read about how he recognised the aboriginal culture, quite unusual as most white people wanted to erase it from the communities in their quest to make the natives conform to ‘white-man’s’ thinking. It is now a small aboriginal community and relies on volunteers to keep the historic precinct open to the public. In this slide show you will see Karin, one of our fellow Solo travellers, who is volunteering out there at the moment.
We then had the opportunity to do the first of three walks, this one a short climb up one of the tracks to what is known as Lizard Rock (Kalarranga Lookout). I looked at the climb and then decided to have a go at it – climbing hills is not my favourite pastime – but the views from the top were worth the effort.
Our next walk was through the Cycad Gorge – amazing lushness in this arid land.
Cycads are plants of great antiquity, being the oldest living representatives of the Gymnosperms – the first seed-bearing plants. They are the descendants of the Bennettitales (cycad-ferns) which flourished in the Mesozoic age and probably dominated the vegetation of the world some 200 million years ago.
Our bus dropped us off at one end of this short walk and picked us up at the other end. Once again, a beautiful environment and so unexpected in this area. Our driver was telling us that the rocks are basically sandstone and the water seeps through them over a period of time and becomes underground water that provides a permanent water source that these plants, and the palms in Palm Valley, survive on.
The main walk of the day was a loop through Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park.
The track to Palm Valley is still only accessible with a four-wheel drive vehicle. It departs from the town of Hermannsburg and travels south, following the usually dry bed of the Finke River. Palm Creek flows into the Finke River from the west about 15 km (by track) south of Hermannsburg. The track follows the creek to Palm Valley about 5 km west of the Finke River. (source Wikipedia)
Only 2.5kms it was a little more testing than the Lizard Rock walk as we clambered up to the rim of the valley and then made our way back to the bus. It was quite spectacular (I’m sure I’m using this word far too often!) It truly was like an oasis in the desert. The palm trees that grow here are Red Cabbage Palms.
Our bus driver, Phil, was full of information and enthusiastic about the area – and loved the 4 wheel driving through deep sand and over rocks. After leaving Hermannsburg we were basically travelling along the dry Finke River bed and then Palm Creek so it was sandy in spots, rocky in others, but totally picturesque the whole way.
What a fantastic day! We left home at 7am and arrived back at 6pm. Many thanks to my travelling buddy Margaret Cook for sharing her photos with me – and therefore with you. I hope I’ve identified Margaret’s photos with (MC).
Our last photo stop was at Pram Creek….I wonder how it got its name?