Fernvale is currently a 4 star accredited Queensland Tidy Town. Tell us what you think by voting in the poll – you can give a 1 to 5 star rating!
Fernvale (situated in the Somerset Region) began as a teamster’s camp in the 1840s, near the crossing over the Brisbane River when timber, cattle and sheep were raised on the large stations. It was one of the earliest localities in which pastoral leaseholdings were resumed for closer settlement in the late 1860s and early 1870s. It has since developed as a town servicing in turn pioneers, cotton growing and mixed farming, and is now a thriving town of 2500 people.
Fernvale offers an attractive rural lifestyle with local access to all essential services and enjoys a variety of local cafes. Apart from the many parks, there is a new major sports ground development, an indoor sports stadium and plenty of outdoor recreation such as camping, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, horse and bike riding, and many walking trails.
Located just an hour’s drive from Brisbane and 24km from Ipswich, Fernvale is the gateway to the Brisbane Valley Lakes and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.
Local Government Information
The Somerset region has an area of 5382 sq km and includes five major townships, Esk, Fernvale, Kilcoy, Lowood and Toogoolawah. The region is home to about 23,000 people and figures released in a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in April 2014 show the region had a growth of 3.2% during the 2012/13 year. Somerset's growth rate was well in excess of the Queensland total growth rate of 1.9%.
The Fernvale Futures Complex next to Memorial Park is the Tourist Information Centre – the helpful staff will be able to provide information on the many attractions the region has to offer.
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is now nearing completion of a 160km Wulkaraka to Yarraman line, with tours and events. The first section, an 8km length from Fernvale to Lowood. Pedestrians, Horseback and bike riders can enjoy the rural scenery, with beautiful views of the Brisbane River.
The spectacular Wivenhoe Lake Dam is a few minutes’ drive away. The Cormorant Bay Park offers picnic facilities, extensive grounds, walking trails and lake views. The Cormorant Bay cafe is located at the Park, overlooking the lake. The SEQWater Education Centre has an interesting display of photos, maps and aquariums featuring marine life in the dam. The Spillway Common offers a spectacular view of the dam spillway, especially when there is a water release.
The dam and the Brisbane River provide plenty of opportunity for all kinds of water activities including fishing, kayaking and canoeing. There are restrictions on powered boats on the dam and fishing licences are required.
Fernvale has become a destination in itself. The many cafes and coffee shops cater for tourists, especially on the weekend when the Sunday Markets are held in the Fernvale State School grounds. The Old Fernvale Bakery is housed in a heritage building offers prize winning pies and features a collection of old photographs and memorabilia.
The Fernvale Markets attracts people from all over southeast Queensland, selling locally produced goods, including fresh fruit and vegetables, with plenty of arts and craft.
There are two hotels with motel accommodation in Fernvale. The Fernvale Hotel has 8 motel rooms and the Brisbane Valley Tavern has 7 two bedroom, self contained apartments. Both hotels are happy to accept overnight parking from RVs. Parking is also available for RVs at Twin Bridges.
Fernvale is a popular base for camping, with Savages Crossing and Twin Bridges camping areas on the banks of the Brisbane River being the most popular.
There are 7 restaurants and cafes in town. The Old Fernvale Bakery and the Tree Change Cafe both open at 6am for breakfast, while Kiks opens at 5am for coffee only. Old Fernvale Bakery, the Fernvale Hotel restaurant, the Brisbane Valley Tavern Bistro and the Tree Change Cafe are open for lunch every day, offering mainly Australian cuisine. The Cormorant Bay Cafe, overlooking Lake Wivenhoe is open Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch, offering meals with an Asian twist. The Old Fernvale Bakery and both hotels offer options for dinner and feature indoor and outdoor settings. The 6 takeaways offer pizza, sushi, subs, chicken, pies, sandwiches, cakes and fish and chips. Most cafes also cater for takeaway food.
The Jaggera, Yugarra and Ugarapul peoples occupied the Fernvale area for millennia prior to European settlement. The Platypus rock shelter, now on the edge of Lake Wivenhoe yielded thousands of artefacts, testament to their long occupation of the area. In 1842 after the embargo on land occupation near the convict settlement of Brisbane was lifted, the Uhr brothers took up the area inclusive of where Fernvale is now, naming it Fairney Lawn. In 1843, they sold it to the North family, who remained in occupation for the next 60 years.
The original name for the Fernvale area was Stinking Gully. It developed first as a teamsters camp located on higher ground near a Brisbane River crossing. In the 1860s, larger blocks were subdivided and sold to new settlers. At first these selectors were Scots and English, but by the end of the 1860s, there were an increasing number of German families coming to the area.
While cattle, horses, sheep and timber were still important products, the advent of the Civil War in the United States made cotton growing attractive, especially as the Queensland Government offered a bounty for its production. Two warehouses and ginneries, one at Stinking Gully and one on the other side of the creek at Harrisborough were established.
Fernvale became a recognisable locality with the opening of a Methodist Church in 1871, and a primary school in 1874. By 1873, the name Fernvale was being used instead of Stinking Gully and when the railway arrived in 1884, the station was officially called Fernvale.
Fernvale grew in its role as a service centre for the surrounding mixed farms. The wide street remained as a reminder of the space required to turn a bullock team and the development of the town was concentrated on the east side facing the railway. Memorial Park now occupies the area that was once the goods yard and the Fernvale Futures Centre stands where the station building used to be. The last train left in 1989, and the track is now developed as the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. This, together with Wivenhoe Dam, completed in 1985 and the natural beauty of the countryside, has made tourism the lifeblood of Fernvale.