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Herbig Family Tree

Home > Adelaide > Outdoor | Free | Family | Escape the City | Day Trips
by Paula McManus (subscribe)
Photography obsessed writer and urban explorer. Lover of nature, art and long weekends. Adelaide, South Australia. https://www.facebook.com/paula.mcmanus1
Published April 15th 2013
A most significant tree
The Herbig Family Tree is not just any old tree. It's a tree with an incredible history.

©paula mcmanus
Herbig Family Tree, Springton (©paula mcmanus)


This massive 500 year old red gum tree in Springton was home to a family for 2 years in the 1800's.

The tree is hollow at its seven metre base and bizarre as it sounds, it was the first home of Friedrich and Caroline Herbig from 1858 to 1860. The first 2 of their 16 children were born in their tree home.

©paula mcmanus
Herbig Family Tree, Springton (©paula mcmanus)


Friedrich Herbig was one of South Australia's early European settlers, arriving in our new colony in 1855.

Making a family home out of a twisted and bent old river red gum says a lot about the drive and persistence of those early European settlers who arrived in South Australia in the 1850s. Life would have been incredibly hard.

©paula mcmanus
Herbig Family Tree, Springton (©paula mcmanus)


Friedrich and Caroline eventually built a home nearby - "Herbig Homestead". The 1860 cottage of timber slab walls and flagstone floor is in remarkably good condition considering it was built with no nails or modern tools.

Friedrich and Caroline's great grandson David Herbig did a great interview with Postcards SA a few years ago.
In the interview he said: "Caroline was looking after two little kids. She was home with two little boys aged two and a half and another a few months old. A stranger knocked on the door claiming to be looking for straying cattle. She said she hadn't seen any and attacked her, dragged her to the vicinity of the cow yard, put a rope around her neck and hung her off a wattle tree, stabbed her above the left breast and left her hanging there. Then went inside to ransack the house looking for money.

Fortunately, she was on the plump side, her weight bent the wattle tree enough for her feet to touch the ground, she managed to free herself, ran half a mile to a neighbouring farmhouse, call out 'de-kinda, de-kinda, the children, the children. They sent for the doctor. The doctor said it was only because of the fatty tissue of the stab wound that she didn't bleed to death.

It was while she was recovering from that traumatic experience that she met Friedrich. They married soon after and began their life together in the old gumtree that's gone down in Springton's pioneering history."

©paula mcmanus
Herbig Family Tree, Springton (©paula mcmanus)


The Herbig Family tree is located in Springton in the Adelaide Hills, on the fringe of the Barossa Valley.

In 1968, to ensure protection of the tree and in recognition of its pioneer status, descendants of the Herbig family formed a memorial trust and bought the land containing the tree. The tree is now on the National Trust's Register of Significant Trees for historic significance and colonial occupation.

Herbig family reunions are held at the tree, usually every five years
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Why? Our pioneering past
When: Always open
Where: Springton, South Australia
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Good one Paula!
I was wanting to include this in my article on More Unusual Houses of Adelaide, but couldn't get the photo.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11266) 2409 days ago
A remarkable story, thanks for sharing. 16 kids, that's impressive!
by Hayley (score: 3|1016) 2409 days ago
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