Finke River Mission (FRM) is arranging commemorative activities in Central Australia this year to mark the centenary of the death of Lutheran missionary Carl Strehlow.

Pastor Strehlow, who died on 20 October 1922 at Horseshoe Bend Station on the Finke River, aged 50, is most remembered for his service among the Western Arrarnta people at Hermannsburg (Ntaria). His legacy includes extensive Bible translation work and research and writings on First Nations languages and cultures.

Most of the 100th-anniversary events will be held from 24 to 31 July at Hermannsburg, 125 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs.

FRM Ministry Support Worker Pastor Neville Doecke says the key focus of the events will be on ‘giving praise and thanks to God’ for Carl Strehlow’s outstanding service, as well as that of his wife Frieda. ‘In addition, nothing could have been achieved without the support of the many Western Arrarnta Aboriginal people who dearly loved and worked tirelessly with Carl and Frieda’, Pastor Neville says.


Carl Strehlow was born on 23 December 1871 in Fredersdorf, in northern Germany. His early education was at his schoolteacher father’s Lutheran school. He entered the Lutheran seminary at Neuendettelsau in Germany’s south in 1888.

Pastor Strehlow graduated in 1891 and the following year was sent to Australia. His first posting was to the Bethesda Mission at South Australia’s Lake Eyre, where he learnt to speak the local Diyari (Dieri) language within six months. By the end of 1894, he had translated the New Testament into Diyari with Reverend J G Reuther.

In October 1894, Missionary Strehlow was transferred to Hermannsburg. He ran the mission also as a cattle and sheep station and provided pastoral care for more than 100 Aboriginal people. His soon-to-be wife Frieda Keysser joined Carl from Germany in 1895. They had six children and her service among the community members at Hermannsburg is fondly remembered by their descendants. Carl began the translation of the New Testament into Arrarnta with Moses Tjalkabota, Nathaniel Rauwirarka and Jacobus in 1913, completing it in 1919.


  • Sun 24 July, 11am: Worship service at Hermannsburg; followed by lunch
  • 25 to 29 July: Walk down Finke Gorge to Running Waters. The full walk is 70 kilometres, but shorter walks are possible.
  • Sun 31 July, 11am: Memorial service at Strehlow’s grave at Horseshoe Bend Station.

More information and registration, contact: Pastor Neville Doecke (0498 583 808 or or David Hewitt (0439 803 685;

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full