Historical information

A copy of an early pencil sketch of Fernshaw in Victoria.


A copy of an early pencil sketch of Fernshaw in Victoria by Louis Buvelot.
Louis Buvelot ( 1814–1888), born Abram-Louis Buvelot, was a Swiss landscape painter who lived 17 years in Brazil and following 5 years back in Switzerland stayed 23 years in Australia, where he influenced the Heidelberg School of painters. Arriving in Melbourne in February 1865, after leaving the cold of Switzerland, which was impacting on his health, for the warmth of Australia, Buvelot was in business as a photographer in Bourke Street for a year but soon resumed his painting. He lived in Melbourne for a number of years before moving to Fitzroy. The National Gallery of Victoria purchased two of his paintings and he continued painting until his death in 1888. He was buried at the Boroondara Cemetery, where a large monument was erected in his memory.
Fernshaw was a rural township 63 km northeast of Melbourne and 10 km northeast 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.