Ever wondered what French Island is like? It's only 20 minutes by Westernport ferries across from Cowes, Phillip Island or Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula yet once you step on the island, it couldn't seem more remote. There is no mains power, gas or drinking water, so be sure to bring some with you or stock up at the General Store and cafe once on the island.
This destination isn't for everyone, however, it's the perfect place if you are wanting to get away from it all! No distractions, noise, crowds, traffic lights, shopping centres or urban development - just a small population of French Islanders who live on the island, mainly farmers and about 4000 koalas. Cape barren geese are thriving here and you'll also spot farm animals and lamas.
Tankerton Jetty is the main gateway to the mainland and Phillip Island. It's also the name of the main road that crosses across the bottom part of the island and a good place to start exploring. Unfortunately, swimming is not recommended due to the soft mud and strong currents.
It is highly recommended to bring your own mountain bikes or hire one for $30 from the only general store on the island, located 3km from Tankerton Jetty. If you are lucky, Tommy, the owner's friendly cat, will come out and greet you!
We brought our bikes from Melbourne and stopped at the general store to refuel before heading off to explore the vast expanse of French Island. It's twice the size of Phillip Island! Riding through farms, blueberry bushes, sandy tracks, grasslands and mangrove swamps was all part of the adventure.
All the roads and management tracks are unsealed, so the quickest way to get around is by bike. If you prefer walking, it will take longer, so make sure you have enough water, food and walking boots are recommended. There is a tour company, Naturaliste, that takes bookings to explore the island if you prefer a guided tour.
So if you are looking for a remote place with unique nature, historic farmhouses, chicory kilns, seabirds and national parks to explore than you will love its isolation and serenity. You can choose to stay overnight at Fairhaven campsite, situated on the west coast in an idyllic natural setting.
French Island has remained relatively isolated and undisturbed for a long time and this is how the locals prefer it. So make sure you take any rubbish with you and respect nature and its ecosystem in this special place.
So grab a map from the ferry, bring a mountain bike or walking boots and a backpack full of essentials to keep you going for a half day, full day or longer stay on this tranquil, remote island in the middle of Westernport Bay.
Loved the article and photos. Always wanted to visit there, now I feel I have. I used to know a French Island resident, but he was a guest of Her Majesty when it housed a prison., so his views were probably biased.