Focus on Ferguson
In this issue we focus on the little known locality of ‘Ferguson’, a former timber town where the small population eked out a living from deforestation, and make no mistake it was a life full of hardship and heart break, of an area that is now a tourist destination for the remnant trees and regrowth. Such are the ironies of our modern times.
As you drive up from Gellibrand on the Colac-Lavers Hill Road you come to a ‘T’ intersection with an old wooden sign proclaiming ‘Ferguson’. And that is all that is left of the town. The quirky Nouri-shed is on your right and is the perfect pit stop for some nourishment and browsing through the locally sourced goods and produce for sale.
The image depicted is from Eugène von Guérard’s Australian landscapes: a series of 24 tinted lithographs illustrative of the most striking and picturesque features of the landscape scenery of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia & Tasmania, printed and published by Hamel & Ferguson in 1867.
von Guérard wrote: “The journey is about as di cult as the physical features of the declivitous and thickly-wooded ranges are grand and romantic; and it is only at rare intervals that the tourist obtains such a glimpse of the mountain slopes, and wide-spreading forests as the artist has succeeded in doing at the spot which forms the foreground of the accompanying landscape. Lying about a hundred miles from Melbourne, as the crow ies, this tract of country is comparatively a terra incognita; so impenetrable is the jungle, and so vast the scope of the boundless forests, lled with battalions upon battalions of towering trees, the more eminent of which rise to an altitude of 300 feet.”
One hundred years ago the narrow gauge train line from Colac stopped at Ferguson and there was a tin shelter for passengers. All gone now. The old railway line is now part of the Beechy Rail Trail and is enjoyed by walkers, hikers, mountain bikers and Otway ebikes who follow its meandering through the forest, farmland and hills.
At Ferguson you can turn left and head off to the Otway Fly to play among the tree-tops. Or you can continue on to the many waterfalls in that part of the woods and stopover for a meal or over-nite accommodation at The Otway Farmstay or Beechy Hotel.
So it’s the sort of place that if you were just driving through without any local knowledge you might think ‘humph, not much to see around here’. But with a little planning and some maps there are many jewels of the Otways to discover just a little ways off the beaten track. Local photographer Tim Lucas can reveal some hidden gems. So go ahead and immerse yourself in some of the deepest parts of the Otway Ranges and listen to the trees whisper their stories and secrets. You will return home refreshed and renewed.