Recognising Peramangk connection to 'Herbig Tree'1 Oct. 2021
The story of German emigrant Friedrich Herbig who lived in a hollowed out river redgum in Springton is famous in the Barossa Valley. In 1855, the 27-year-old dairy worker set up his home within the 6-metre wide tree that later also housed his bride Caroline and their first two children.
What is less well-known is the story of the indigenous connection to the ancient tree, which is estimated to be up to 500 years old.
The Northern and Yorke Landscape Board's Aboriginal Engagement Committee (AEC) initiated discussions to recognise the gum's cultural significance to the area's traditional custodians, the Peramangk people.
The AEC meet four times a year, with every second meeting held on one of the five Nations within the region, which include Nukunu, Narungga, Ngadjuri, Kaurna and Peramangk. One representative from each Nation is part of the committee, together with three Northern and Yorke Landscape Board members, and a representative from Legatus Group, Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North and Regional Development Australia Barossa Gawler Light Adelaide Plains.
On Friday 10 September the AEC met with some of Friedrich and Caroline's descendants, Peramangk leader Isobelle Campbell and Council representatives. It was an emotional gathering for all who heard about the tree's coolamon scars (evidence of Aboriginal people carving wooden dishes out of the tree's bark).
The meeting marks the first step in recognising the tree's indigenous heritage and it is hoped that further discussions will lead to signage for the site and native plantings.
Image: Matthew Turner - Northern and Yorke Landscape Board