French Island

Imagine the excitement of boarding a small ferry, knowing you are crossing the water to a secluded  island. On the other side, the kids leap onto Tankerton Jetty. You are now in another, almost  forgotten world. There are hardly any cars and there is no mains electricity, piped water or sealed  roads. There is just one store and it also serves as the post office. Only about 70 people live here, and  the tiny school has less than ten pupils. But there are thousands of koalas, and lots of other wildlife and adventures to discover.

Price range

FREE; VARIOUS PRICES FOR FERRY CROSSING

Contact details

Peninsula Visitor Information Centre, 1800 804 009

www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

Don't Miss

■ The historic Bayview Chicory Kiln in Bayview Road. You can have afternoon tea, pat farm animals  and browse historical displays.

■ The koalas. There is also a large population of long-nosed potoroos, but these are nocturnal so you  are less likely to see them.
 
■ Birds feeding in the mudflats and mangroves of the marine park at low tide. You’ll see them in  summer when they migrate from the Northern Hemisphere, some from as far away as Alaska and Siberia.

Fabulous Facts

Koalas were introduced to the island from the mainland just across the water over 100 years ago.  French Island now contains the largest population of disease-free koalas in Victoria. Koalas breed  here so successfully that park rangers are kept busy planting manna gum trees to keep them supplied  with food, and many are transferred to reserves in other parts of Victoria.

Insider Tips

■ It’s a good idea to bring your own drinking water to the island. Water supplied at campsites must  be boiled or purified.

■ The northern two-thirds of the island is the national park. In spring, the national park is a blaze of colour from the hundreds of different indigenous plant species that grow here, including over 100  orchid species.
 
■ The northern shore of the island is a marine park, which means that killing or taking fish or other  marine creatures is forbidden. 
 
■ The only way to access the island is by a 30-minute passenger ferry ride from Stony Point, 30  kilometres north-east of Flinders (or from Cowes on Phillip Island). Contact Inter Island Ferries, (03) 9585 5730 or www.interislandferries.com.au
 
■ Hire a mountain bike (children’s sizes available) from French Island General Store and Bike Hire, Tankerton Road; (03) 5980 1209. The roads are all gravel and sand but they are not hilly. You can book ahead and have bikes waiting at the jetty.
 
■ If you want to stay overnight, there are farm stays, B&Bs and campsites.
 
■ There are public toilets at the Fairhaven campsite on the western foreshore.
 
■ Open fires are banned at all times because the vegetation of the island is highly combustible, but  portable gas stoves are permitted.
 
■ Organic lunches and dinners are available at McLeod Eco Farm, McLeod Road; (03) 5980 1224.
 
■ For organised tours of the island, contact French Island Eco Tours, www.frenchislandecotours.com.au, or French Island Tours, www.frenchislandtours.com.au.

See Also

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