This rural commuter town is growing fast and is the commercial centre for the surrounding farming community. Its close proximity to Ipswich gives it the big-city amenities many love, while maintaining the small-town charm that makes it so popular for raising a family.
- Population – 3,209
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander percentage of population – 3.8%
- Closest major town/city – Ipswich (24 km)
- Distance from airport – 72 km (Brisbane)
- Cinemas – 0
- Cafes/restaurants – 3
- Pubs/bars – 2
- Primary schools – 1
- Secondary schools – 0
- Tertiary education providers – 0
- Annual average maximum temperature – 26.8°C
- Annual average minimum temperature – 13.1°C
Surrounded by pastures, Fernvale sits beside the Brisbane River, west of the city of Brisbane and around 24 km north of Ipswich. The D’Aguilar Range is east of town, rising above the agricultural valley.
Fernvale is a young town with a median age of 33, a few years below the Queensland and Australian medians. Children 14 and under make up more than 27 percent of the population, and less than one in ten residents is retired. Almost 80 percent of those who call Fernvale home were born in Australia. Interestingly, almost a third of the population stated at the 2016 census that they have no religious affiliation.
There are two general practices in Fernvale – Health Matters Fernvale and Stellar Medical – to cover the healthcare needs of the town. Ipswich Hospital, less than a half-hour drive away, is a major hospital providing a full range of services.
Fernvale’s health profile is not disadvantaged. Median income is similar to the state level and there is a lower percentage of residents aged 65 or over. Some lifestyle factors are a concern; the smoking rate is quite high and 64 percent of residents are an unhealthy weight. Drinking and poor diet are also prevalent.
Fernvale is in the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN and is rated RA2.
The large proportion of young families in Fernvale are well catered for when it comes to education for preschoolers and primary-aged children. There are two kindergartens in town – Goodstart Early Learning and Mission Australia Early Learning. While the local Fernvale State School caters for students from Prep to Year 6, education beyond this requires travel outside of town, with Lowood State High School being the closest secondary school. This trip can take as little as 10 minutes by car.
If private education is preferred, parents need to look to Ipswich for options at both primary and secondary levels. For education beyond high school, the University of Southern Queensland has a campus in Ipswich, while there are other university and TAFE options in Brisbane.
Career options for partners
With many of Fernvale’s residents working in nearby Ipswich, work for anyone moving to the area is probably easier to come by than in many country towns. Rates of full-time and part-time work amongst the population are almost identical to those for all of Queensland.
Residents are employed in a mixture of occupations, with trades, clerical, professional, labouring and personal services work all taking fairly equal pieces of the pie. Industry of employment is varied, with freight transport, health and education amongst the top sectors. Being a commuter town, close to three quarters of Fernvale’s workforce travel to work by car. Around one in six residents have done voluntary work in recent times, with the St. Vincent de Paul Society being one of the local options.
Arts and culture
While the town of Fernvale has little to offer in terms of cultural organisations, there is a local art group whose members get together each week to paint. There is a sewing and craft shop in town, and in nearby Lowood is a wonderful crafts co-op called Folk Art Cooperative Society that sells members’ home-crafted pieces.
For lovers of good wine, Mount England Estate Winery, about 10 km from town, could be considered a cultural high point. Though there are no cinemas in Fernvale, nearby Ipswich has two that show the latest movies. Ipswich is also the best place to go for live music.
For bushwalkers and campers, the nearby D’Aguilar National Park has a lot to offer. The park has a wide range of native habitats and features including remote gorges and subtropical rainforest. There are two formal camping areas with toilets and fireplaces, as well as eight remote camping sites. The park also has areas suitable for horse riding, trail bike riding and cycling.
If watersports are your thing, the southern end of Lake Wivenhoe is around 8 km north of Fernvale. The lake has plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming or boating, along with camping facilities.
The town itself has several areas of parkland, including Fernvale Memorial Park, a tribute to the area’s railway history, situated where the railway goods yard once stood. The park gives access to the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, which passes through farmland, forests and towns over its 161 km length.
Fernvale’s recently built sports park has facilities for playing Aussie rules football, cricket, rugby, soccer and netball. Sports are also available at Fernvale Indoor Sports Centre, which offers a range of activities including cricket, futsal, netball and basketball, as well as a gym and fitness classes for both children and adults.
Food and drink
While there aren’t a huge number of options for eating out in Fernvale, the options that do exist are quite popular. There are a few cafes and fast food outlets, with the Old Fernvale Bakery Cafe known for its huge range of pies. For some pub grub, head to either of the town’s hotels for lunch or dinner. In addition, Ipswich, with its wider range of choices, is only a short drive away.
The recent boom in Fernvale means that most of the housing stock is quite new, often less than 15 years old. Virtually all dwellings are separate houses, and demand is substantially lower than the Queensland average. A typical three-bedroom home sells for around $290,000, with rental for the same-sized property around $330 per week.
Since the railway line through Fernvale closed down almost 30 years ago, residents now need to travel to Ipswich to connect to the rail network, from where there are regular services to Brisbane and also to the west. There is a bus service that runs six days a week between Ipswich and Fernvale, with a morning and evening bus in both directions on weekdays and a single service on Saturdays. However, travelling by car may be the most convenient, with easy access to Ipswich and Brisbane via the Brisbane Valley Highway (A17), which runs through town. This also gives connections to the rest of the Queensland highway network.
Broadband – While the National Broadband Network is available in much of Fernvale, there are some areas yet to be added to the rollout. However, ADSL2+ is still available, with speeds of up to 15Mbps.