The Ferntree Gully Reserve was created in 1994 to conserve the special plant community which exists in and around the gully. A trust consisting of nine persons was appointed to administer the Reserve.
For many years prior to this, schools in the area had been using the Reserve for environmental studies and the Trust felt an expansion of this use should be one of its highest priorities. It was decided to upgrade the access track so that small (21 seat) school buses could more easily reach the picnic area.
A series of grants allowed the Trust to upgrade facilities, including a mud brick toilet, improvements to the existing steps accessing the gully and a new track along the rim of the gully with two platforms (Norm King Lookout, named after an early local environmentalist, and Flat Rock Lookout) to show the wonderful scenery which borders the gully itself. This track provides a round trip returning to the picnic area.
These improvements have been made possible with a Forest Eco Tourim Grant, the assistance of the LEAP Scheme, the then Rylstone Shire and the members of the Trust.
The Wheelbarrow Track is named for the wheelbarrows that were used to haul half sleepers to the site of the steps during construction. The track was made on the route that least affected the sensitive plants of the area, and now provides an alternative entry to the gully.
A boardwalk was also constructed in the sensitive rainforest area at the base of the gully to minimise damage to the soft rainforest floor while allowing visitor access.
These improvements have made it much easier to appreciate the range of habitats which exist at the Ferntree Gully Reserve, an important part of the natural heritage of the shire.
Bird species in the gully include the lyre bird, the rare powerful owl, scrub turkey, glossy black cockatoo as well as pigeons, parrots and owls. Most animals in the Reserve, such as grey kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, as well as several species of gliders and possums, are nocturnal and so are rarely seen. Echidnas, marsupial mice and several species of snakes are also found in the Reserve.
Interesting plantlife is abundant along the walking tracks – there is much to spot and examine closely! Plants to look out for include large fig trees and the Pandora pandoreana with its entangled maze of roots. In the gully itself there are many species of ferns and other rainforest plants including rock orchids, some of which are unique to the area.