Chapter 3
To Hermannsburg

The first part of the trip was out through Heavitree Gap past the camel camping grounds which seemed to be filled with the beasts. A little further on we met a donkey team which had just come in from Hermannsburg.6

Donkey team with wagon 1

Donkey team with wagon 2

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The load on our lorry started off by being too big for a gate at the camel camp, so we had to rearrange the load. This delayed us a little.

at the camel gate

Almost the whole of the trip out to Hermannsburg was over sandy dirt plain, covered with mulga, good Mitchell grass and spinifex. Here and there were traces of a big storm of rain that had fallen a few months before. The foliage being almost luxuriant in these spots. The road was fair most of the way,firm and good in some places and very bad over the rest. The main drawback was the sandy creek beds in which we managed to get stuck badly. The remedy was to let the air out of the back tyres and when we had gained the other side, to pump them up again off the engine.

40 mile stop

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I spent four hours of the eighty mile journey riding on top in the sun and dry wind in a state of dessication, dodging branches of the mulgas as we came to them. The whole trip was parallel to the Macdonnell Ranges until Hermannsburg was reached. The ranges take the on the name of Krichauff and lie more north-south than the east-west Macdonnells.

6: Early in 1933, many of the Hermannsburg people made a trip into Alice Springs. Young and old, men, women and children made the exodus - some walking, some by donkey wagon, a few by camel. Many had not been there before, and were keen to see 'The big fella snake', as they called the train, and other emblems of town life. Alice Springs was a potent atttraction for Aboriginal people from the mission and elsewhere. The government now handed out better rations than the mission could provide, and it was an easy way to escape the irksomeness of work routines or community discipline.

Albrecht thought it better that they experience the 'wonders of civilization' as a group and with his approval, since there was no real way to keep them totally away from Alice Springs. But he felt that the town environment was becoming a worse and worse influence for Aboriginal people generally. Drinking, prostitution and venereal disease were increasing, and normal tribal and family cohesion disintegrated at an alarming rate. Albrecht often had the impression that Europeans regarded the instability and prostitution among Aborigines in Alice Springs as insignificant, remarking that in their old state, Aborigines often exchanged wives or changed marriage partners after a quarrel. He felt, however, that under traditional law such things might be accomodated within the marriage class system, and the basic tribal organization remain intact. But in the settled districts, all tribal organization was broken down, and he felt strongly that if family life was not protected there, the Aboriginal community would cease to exist.

Barbara Henson, A Straight-out Man F.W. Albrecht and Central Australian Aborigines, (University of Melbourne Press 1992) P.77-78

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