Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Fern Tree Village

Fern Tree (at 450 metres), is Tasmania's highest community of any size. The name Fern Tree is adapted from the common name of the plant Tasmanian Tree Fern which grows abundantly in the area. Set beneath Mount Wellington whose summit is at 1270 metres above sea level, Fern Tree is 13 km by road from Hobart's central business district.

Fern Tree was originally a postal station on the road to the Huon Valley and later the site through which Hobart's water supply would pass. Settled from the mid 19th century, Fern Tree and its environs have always been a major recreational area for Hobart residents. Its many walking tracks (most notably the Pipeline Track) see tourists and locals alike appreciating the diverse flora and fauna.

The first Fern Tree Tavern was built in the 1861 by John Hall. It was soon replaced by the Fern Tree Hotel, which was established by Alfred Totenh̦fer, a Collinsvale farmer of East Prussian descent. Totenh̦fer's hotel burnt down in the 1967 bushfires but was subsequently rebuilt as the modern Fern Tree Tavern. The Fern Tree Tavern is located in the centre of Fern Tree Рat the foot of Mount Wellington.
As this area of Tasmania is prone to bushfire, the current Fern Tree Tavern is actually the third incarnation of this local icon.  The first Fern Tree Tavern was built in the 1861 by John Hall as the Hobart Town Corporation was building a new water supply for Hobart.  People came from Hobart to enjoy the Tavern’s hospitality and wander the mountain trails.  They were drawn to the clean cool mountain air. 

By the 1900′s Fern Tree was established as Hobart’s Mountain Retreat.
On 7 February 1967 the bushfires that devestated Southern Tasmania, took much of Fern Tree, including the grand Federation-Style Fern Tree Hotel which had replaced the John Hall’s original Inn. Since then, new waterworks have been established to enhance Fern Tree’s ability to deal with the fires.
The other significant historical building in the village is St Raphaels church. Saint Raphael’s Church is the daughter church in the Parish of All Saints, South Hobart. It is situated on Huon Road, Fern Tree, ten kilometres from the city of Hobart.

This beautiful ‘Swiss’ style Church was designed by Melbourne architect Alan C Walker and built by local builders William and Charles Gillham. The Foundation Stone was laid in 1892 by Emily Dobson and the Church consecrated in 1893. Previously services had been held in a room at the back of the Fern Tree Inn (now the Fern Tree Tavern) which was opposite the site of the present church. The incentive to build the Church came from residents who were concerned at the use of the Inn for their fortnightly church services.
The land and a monetary donation towards the building of the Church was given by Henry and Emily Dobson. The remainder of the cost was donated by Fern Tree residents and members of the wider community. It is a significant building for the Fern Tree community, being the only building to have survived two major bush fires in 1898 and 1967 that destroyed the Fern Tree community.

Current day Fern Tree is a quiet town which is the doorway to Mount Wellington and all it has to offer.  The Fern Tree Tavern is a great starting & finishing point for many walks around the area including the historic Pipeline Track.


Fern Tree Tavern website: http://www.ferntreetavern.com.au/

3 comments:

  1. Hi Geoff there is an inaccuracy in your blog about Fern Tree. The statement about the church, "being the only building to have survived two major bush fires in 1898 and 1967 that destroyed the Fern Tree community" is incorrect. Several houses in Fern Tree escaped the 1967 fires including the house I live in on Huon Road (circa 1940). Cheers, James

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  2. Hi James,
    thanks for your comments. I was really referring to the church having survived both major bushfires. I understand that there were buildings that survived the fires but the church was the only one to survive both 1898 & 1967. I, of course, stand to be corrected. :)
    Kind Regards
    Geoff

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