Meta Johanna Sternberg was born in Neuendorf, Schleswig Holstein, Germany, in 1867.
She arrived in Australia in 1886 at the age of 19. She travelled with her sister, who had been banished from their religious family in Germany when she became pregnant.
Strangely enough, Meta was not told of the pregnancy, and was quite unaware, until the baby, a boy, was born on the ship.
Somehow, the two penniless sisters, neither speaking English, and with an illegitimate baby, found their way to Majorca, to an Uncle, Otto Bruhn.
Meta worked as a housemaid, and married Thomas Gardiner in 1888. They had eight daughters, and one son. Two of their daughters were ‘Lucas Girls,’ and their son served in World War 1 . He lost a leg in France but survived the War to return to Australia.
Meta’s life in Ballarat was one of hard work, raising a family of eight, and cooking and sewing and growing vegetables while her husband worked.
Meta died in August 1950, and is buried in the Ballarat New Cemetery, Presbyterian B, Section 3, Grave 1.