The Fernery was first built in 1888 on the site of the early menagerie. However in 1937 it structurally collapsed and it was not until 1985, to mark the occasion of Victoria's 150th anniversary, that it was rebuilt to the original design. At this time a substantial number of ferns were planted and 5km of lattice had to be built and painted. The centre bed was established to show ferns found in the Otway Ranges.
In 2005 the Friends had wrought-iron gates designed to complement the building. In 2006 it was decided to complete the restoration of the Fernery by planting new ferns and replanting old established ones. For example, old "Soft Tree Ferns" or Dicksonia antarctica reach great heights in the wild so in a fernery must be cut down periodically and replanted lower in the ground.
All the ferns, large and small, that you will find in the Fernery are indigenous to the Otway Ranges. We believe our collection is unique in this respect.
The Minister for Planning made funding available for ‘Victoria’s Heritage: Strengthening our Communities’. The friends as usual are always on the lookout to gain funding for restoration works within the gardens. After researching the amount of work that was needed and gaining support from the WCC, the forms were filled out and posted with hope. To our surprise we were selected as worthy under the criteria ‘The program funds projects to repair, conserve and interpret heritage places and objects of importance to the community’.
We can un-chain those beautiful gates enabling visitors to view and enjoy our very special collection of Otway Ferns. The ferns have been lovingly compiled and planted by Marigold Curtis and Lorraine Depler.