A Man of Many Fiddles

Mackay’s Man of Many Fiddles – Herb Zillfleisch


‘Scrapsovarious’ – the home made fiddle constructed by the late Norm Boughen of Minden. Norm always thought his fiddle, made of red cedar top and tin sides, could match the famed Stradovarious for tonal quality.

Herb Zillfleisch of Mackay, retired canefarmer, has one of the largest collections of violins in Australia. Many folk of German descent are great collectors, whether it be tractors, barb wire samples or whatever,  and are also very musical, so little wonder that Herb has a passion for collecting fiddles. Mackay City Council acknowledges him as a local ‘living treasure’ and when I visited Herb in 2002 he was more than pleased to show me his collection of violins. On the walls of his garage at least 100 instruments are displayed and more have their homes throughout his home.   Such was his fame that Walkabout magazine wrote an article on Herb’s passion back in the 1960s.

Although he rarely picks up the violin, Herb can certainly still play an old-time tune on his Hohner single-row ‘ccordeon. Born in the Mackay district to German immigrant parents, Herb spent his life working canefarms and as a Director of a local sugar milling company. However as he told me, music and violins were his real love is the violin.

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