Celebrating South Australia


4 August 1859 Caroline Herbig

 4 August 1859 Caroline Herbig

Caroline Herbig gave birth to her first child, a son, on 4 August 1859 in her home which was actually a hollow red gum tree near Springton. Caroline was a remarkable woman; she came to South Australia from Germany at the age of 16 years with two uncles and their families and within a short time one uncle, Johann Leske, was killed in an accident. On the day of the funeral Caroline was left to look after the two young Leske children at the farmhouse when a man, who thought there was money hidden in the house, attacked her, hung her from a tree and stabbed her in the chest. The tree bent with her weight and she was able to struggle free and in spite of her injuries run to neighbours for help.

The next year, at 18, she married Friedrich Herbig and moved to his property where they lived in the tree – 70 feet high and 20 feet across the base at its widest – for several years. With the birth of a second son Friedrich built a two-roomed pine and pug house where Caroline was to bear another 14 children. She died in 1927 having outlived her husband by 40 years and seven of her 16 children. She could write only her name and speak just a little English, yet this child of peasant stock displayed amazing strength and endurance. The knotted and gnarled old tree is now a memorial to her and her family.

Judith Brown, Country Life in Pioneer South Australia, Rigby, 1977, pp 81-5.