A well-known Australian poet, Geoff Guess, once described Springton as 'South Australia's best kept secret,' and having lived there for a time I would have to agree with him. Although it is situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by forests, fields and vineyards, the town itself is tiny and unassuming, but spend a little time there and it soon begins to show its unique personality. Here are seven great attractions not to miss in Springton.
Springton is best known for the Herbig tree with its fascinating history. For those who don't know the Herbig story, it revolves around a remarkable gentleman named Johann Friedrich Herbig, who emigrated to Australia in 1855 and made his way to the town of Black Springs – as Springton was formerly known – seeking employment with a dairy. Having no money but lots of big dreams, Friedrich came upon the huge tree and made it his home. As soon as he started to earn a living he leased a large parcel of land in the Angas Valley and went on to become a wealthy land-owner and patriarch of the vast Herbig family.
What makes this tree-dwelling story most remarkable is that, while still living in the tree, Friedrich married Carolyn Rattey and they raised eleven of their sixteen children there. Eventually Friedrich built a home in Springton which still stands today.
This is only a small part of a fascinating story and if you would like to know more Friedrich's great-grandson, David, wrote a book about it, which you can purchase at the Springton general store. Although the tree is estimated to be around five hundred years old, locals have ensured its legacy will live on by planting off-shoots from the original tree around the town.
Drop in for a cool one at the Springton Hotel
2. The Springton Hotel
Many small towns rely on the local pub to attract visitors and encourage them to stay awhile which can give them a real sense of the local flavour of the area. The Springton Hotel has been around since 1865 and is one that you should definitely check out even if you are a tee-totaller. Proprietor and local identity 'Bowser' (Wayne Nethercott) and his partner Angela have owned the hotel for around two years and live onsite. They are an integral part of the Springton community which includes sponsoring the local tennis club.
Bowser provides a cheerful, welcoming hub for both locals and visitors to have a drink and a game of pool or to check out the restaurant area downstairs for a hearty meal. They are open from 11am Monday to Saturday and 11am to midnight on Sunday. Meal times are 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and on Sundays for lunch from 12noon to 2pm and for a roast dinner from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
Lunch and Wine Tasting at Buck's Bistro
3. Buck's Bistro This stylish little bistro is situated in the main street of Springton and forms part of the 5-star Poverty Hill winery complex. Part owner and manager John Eckert is proud of what they have achieved since the winery began operation in 2004. They specialise in 4 wines, a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Riesling and in 2009 were voted the best new top ten winery. Although only a small boutique winery, they produce around 5,000 cases a year, much of which goes interstate.
The restaurant offers lunch and dinner or platters to accompany your wine-tasting experience. They also cater for bus tours or special occasions. You can choose to dine at a table by the fireplace, pull up a stool at the bar, relax with a coffee or glass of wine on a sofa with views of the garden, or wander through to the alfresco dining area at the rear.
Bucks is open from Thursday to Sunday and you can visit their Facebook page for times.
Step Back in Time at the Friedensberg School House Museum
4. Friedensberg German School House Museum
You will find this picturesque little building about two kilometres outside of Springton on an unsealed road. It was built in 1861 and served as a school during the week and a church on the weekends. It closed in 1917 but during the sixties a local group restored it and set it up as the museum you see today.
I spent an hour or so there with local identity David Herbig (a descendant of Friedrich) who proudly showed me around the displays and lovingly explained the photographs and paraphernalia on show, interspersed with fascinating stories and anecdotes.
It was easy to imagine life in the 1800's and I marvelled at the strict discipline and meticulous handwriting reflected in the students' work on display.
From there, David took me a little way down the road to the old Springton Cemetery, where I walked among the graves of the Herbig family and the Bauman family (the first teacher at the school.) What I enjoyed most about the tour, besides the authentic atmosphere of the old schoolhouse, was the genuine enthusiasm of David for the history he was so proud of.
You can book a tour by contacting David on 85 682 287.
Recreation and History Walk
5. Recreation Park and Settlers' Wall
Cruise down the main street of Springton and you will come upon a recreation area that takes in the local playground, oval, community hall, public amenities, tennis courts, soldiers memorial monument, an open grassed area and the Settlers' Wall.
After a quick stop at the playground where the children can stretch their legs, you can wander past the tennis courts and monument to the open grassed area and Settlers' Wall.
The Settlers' Wall is a striking curve-shaped wall erected in 2008 by the Springton Progress Association to commemorate the first families to settle in the area. Pop across the road to the general store to grab lunch and something cool to drink. The Settlers wall provides the perfect picnic spot to enjoy it, with its shade canopy and surrounding trees (including saplings from the original Herbig tree).
While you're there you will notice the contemporary artwork on the wall of the local clubrooms. From a distance it is a stunning representation of a country landscape dominated by a tree with spreading leaves. Come a little closer though and you will see the intricate work that has gone into this salute to Springton's history. Dotted among the leaves and hills are metal plaques, engraved with acknowledgements and aspects of the history of the area. These are incorporated cleverly into the bigger picture.
The artwork was commissioned by the Springton Progress Association through a grant from Country Arts SA and was designed and produced by local artists Alison Halliday and Trent Manning with input from students at the Springton Primary School. The artwork was officially unveiled in October, 2014 by local identity, David Herbig.
Taste Quality Local Wine at Edenmae
7. Edenmae Wines
Although the owners recently sold their Edenmae Estate and bed & breakfast cottage, the Winery itself is still going strong and life goes on as usual at the cellar door and tasting room in the main street of Springton. Situated right next door to the general store, Edenmae is a cosy and welcoming place to stop in for a coffee (organic) and something to eat, or to sample some of their stunning boutique wines.
Proprietor Michelle provides a warm welcome to visitors and enjoys a chat, not only about their fabulous selection of boutique wines, but about the local area in general. They are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and ask that large groups book ahead. They cater special events and offer snacks and platters to accompany the wine tasting.