Ferny Creek is unusual among Melbourne suburbs in many ways. Along with Diamond Creek, it is one of only two suburbs to be named something-or-other creek, despite how popular names of that type are in Australia. Unlike Diamond Creek (and the vast majority of other suburbs) it is also accurately named: Ferny Creek is indeed a watercourse whose banks teem with fernery. It is also home to more natural microclimates than any other suburb in the Greater Melbourne Metropolitan area, and thus, as night follows day follows environmental legislation, the suburb whose greatest proportion of comprised of national parks. And finally, of course, it is the birthplace of someone famous.
William “Ferny” McInnery was a highly unsuccessful bushranger in the years immediately prior to World War One. (His sobriquet referred to his copious facial hair.) What he was, more than anything else, was a survivor. He was the only man to escape from the final showdown that wiped out the Darlington Mob in Baxter, and later survived the brutal gang wars around the time of Squizzy Taylor. In between times, he volunteered to fight in the Great War, where he survived the assault on Gallipoli and another two years in the trenches of France.
The secret to his survival was a very highly-developed sense of his environment. McInnery was acutely attuned to nuances many of us cannot even detect – the consistency of soil, the rigidity of tree branches – such that he could tell these things at a glance. His sense of smell is said to have been similarly preternatural – at one point in World War One, T.E. Lawrence requested him by name for his mission, believing that Ferny’s olfactory prowess would help to find oases in the Arabian desert. (In the event, it was never put to the test – a vengeful high command kept McInnery in France until 1918.)
Ferny McInnery’s legendary bolthole in the region that now bears his nickname has never been discovered, but is rumoured to be filled with his ill-gotten gains, a rumour which may well be true, assuming a very low value of ill-gotten gains.
Suburbs near Ferny Creek: