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.
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.
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."
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