The watercourse passing through this township was known in the early days of
European settlement as Stinking Gully, and this name was officially
changed to Ferny Gully only in 1930, at the request of the Esk Shire
Council. Stores and other buildings were erected on the site of the present
township, which became known unofficially as Stinking Gully after the
nearby stream. The area on the northern side of Stinking Gully was known
unofficially as Harrisborough after the store of J & J Harris which
had been established there.
The Wivenhoe post office opened on 6th July 1870, and was at the centre
then known as Fernvale Stores near Stinking Gully. This indicates that
the name Fernvale was being used already by some people, albeit
unofficially, no doubt in an attempt to overcome the unfortunate connotations of
the existing unofficial name. It is assumed that Fernvale referred to the
abundant ferns in the nearby creek.
The first official use of the name Fernvale was for Fernvale
telegraph office which opened on 20th May 1876. The name Wivenhoe post office
was changed to 'Fernvale' on 10th May 1877 and a combined Fernvale post and
telegraph office was formed on 2nd December 1878. The last local official
establishment to change its name was the Harrisborough State School which became
known as Fernvale State School in 1889.