Apparently ‘Fernberg’ means ‘distant mountain’ in German, the native tongue of Johann Heussler, who bought the property in the early 1860s and built on it in 1864-5. Though it must have seemed distant from the city back then, it is located in what we now call an inner-city suburb — and this is what makes it special. Just 3.5 km from the CBD, this site contains not just the grand residence of the Governor, but also a substantial patch of remnant bushland. Along with the weedy scrub around Tristania Drive and Stuartholme, this is the only remaining bushland in the Western Creek catchment.
Fernberg therefore plays an important part in the story of how the Western Creek has been transformed. It is a significant slice of built and environmental history, nestled in amongst the modern suburb. At the bottom of the grounds, you will find the only significant natural water feature left in the catchment — a pond, apparently fed by an underground spring, and maybe even a sole survivor of the chain of ponds that John Oxley found when he explored the area in 1824.
As yet, I’ve written just one page about Fernberg, but it is a good place to start. It is a virtual (though admittedly very selective) tour of the grounds that I put together after the open day on Sunday 3 June 2012.
So take the tour, and when the next open day comes along (next Australia day, perhaps?), pay the place a visit and explore it for yourself. Then check back here as well: by that time, I just might have managed to write some more!
In the meantime, feel free to share your own knowledge about the history of the Fernberg property (especially the bottom bit, where the creek would have been) in the comments below or in the Forum.
Last modified: July 28, 2012