Fernshaw was a rural township 63 km north-east of Melbourne and 10 km north-east of Healesville.

Situated on the Watts River, near where a log had fallen making a convenient crossing, Fernshaw was settled in the 1860s. It provided good country for orchards and berry growing. The location was at the foot of Blacks Spur, with Mounts Juliet and Mondah rising on either side, providing spectacular scenery. There were nearby fern gullies giving rise to the name – ‘shaw’ is old English for thicket or wood. By 1875 Fernshaw had a post office (1865), two hotels, a school (1871) and stores. It was famed for its beauty, attracting tourists.

In 1886 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works began work on the Watts River water catchment scheme – later to become Maroondah – and the Board obtained approval for the catchment country to be reserved and kept free of settlement. This required the removal of the Fernshaw township, which was completed by about 1890. The area was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:

Fernshaw remains as a roadside place name and there is a Fernshaw reserve.

Further Reading

S. Symonds, Healesville: history in the hills, Pioneer Design Studio, 1982

Alma Mitchell, Fernshaw the forgotten village, Healesville, 2001