Born on the Hermannsburg Lutheran mission in 1902, Albert Namatjira, a member of the Arrernte tribe, was the first of the Hermannsburg mission’s much-copied school of landscape watercolourists. Although lacking much painting experience, Namatjira assisted white artist Rex Battarbee on his painting expeditions through the Central Australian deserts in the 1930s during which his talent soon became obvious to Battarbee, who later became Namatjira’s agent. Like all NT Aborigines at that time, Namatjira was forbidden to buy alcohol, stay overnight in Alice Springs or leave the Territory without permission. At the insistence of southern do-gooders – and against his wishes – he was the first Aborigine to be awarded Australian citizenship, in 1956. This meant he could travel without limitations, but needed a permit to visit his own family on Aboriginal reserves. Following the success of his first exhibition in Melbourne, he became a reluctant celebrity, compelled under Aboriginal tradition to share his wealth with his extended family. A shy and modest man, he died in 1959 following a sordid conviction and short imprisonment for supplying alcohol to fellow Aborigines.

Critics could never make up their minds about his work, but his popular appeal was undoubted: today his paintings remain among the most valuable examples of Australia’s artistic preoccupation with its landscape. Sadly, the Twin Ghost Gums in the West MacDonnell Ranges, which featured in some of his most famous works, were destroyed in a suspected arson case in 2013.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A Rough Guide to: visiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef

A Rough Guide to: visiting Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders – it’s the largest structure ever built by living things and is vi…

08 Jun 2018 • Penny Walker insert_drive_file Article
In pictures: exploring Western Australia's remote northwest

In pictures: exploring Western Australia's remote northwest

Australia’s biggest state has often been neglected by travellers in a hurry to hop straight over to the East Coast or the continent’s Red Centre. This year …

17 May 2018 • Nori Jemil camera_alt Gallery
The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t …

21 Mar 2018 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs