Take a Sunday Drive (and Ferry!) to French Island in Melbourne

  • Family
    All Ages

And now for something completely different... a Sunday Drive plus ferry to the largest coastal island of Victoria, French Island.

Being a largely undeveloped and uninhabited island, with 70 per cent part of the French Island National Park, French Island is home to unspoilt landscapes and native animals - and it's a perfect escape from the rat race.

With an environmental bias, the island's residents have no mains water, electricity, or medical services, but instead, live off the land in an eco-friendly way.

Everything you Need to Know About French Island 

French Island accommodation
An aerial view of stunning French Island.

How to Get to French Island

French Island is only 61km south-east of Melbourne. Access to the island is by the Western Point Ferries passenger ferry running daily from Stony Point pier or Cowes on Phillip Island to Tankerton Jetty. Tickets for the 15-minute ferry ride are  $26 for adult return and $12 for a child return. The ferry does not carry vehicles.

The French Island Barge Company operates a vehicular ferry from Corinella on the eastern side of Western Port to the barge landing on French Island. It accommodates two standard size cars or a larger truck. 

The French Island General Store offers free shuttle bus transfers between the jetty and Store on weekends and public holidays. To make a reservation call (03) 5980 1209 before you board the ferry and let them know your arrival time. 

Things to See and Do on French Island

Koala in a tree
Say hello to the koalas!

French Island is a diverse wilderness with bushwalking, bird watching, horse riding and cycling. Habitats range from coastal mangroves and swamps heath, grasslands to blue gum forests.

Home to the world's densest (and healthiest!) population of koalas, and more than 260 species of birds including the king quail, endangered orange-bellied parrot, fairy tern, white-bellied sea eagle and the long-nosed potoroo (who can say they've ever seen one of those?).
Walk through unspoiled natural bushland or along beaches where your only companions are hundreds of wading birds and experience wonderful bike rides through a range of terrain. There are day, half-day and shorter walks and rides starting at Tankerton Foreshore Reserve.

The topography is mainly flat and gently undulating and at 60 metres above sea level, and the Pinnacles offers expansive views of Phillip Island, Western Port and the west coast wetlands of the Park. 

There are more than 40 km of unsealed gravel roads and tracks on the island, which are quiet and ideal for mountain bikes. Bicycles can be hired from the general store.

You can also discover the island on a guided tour with French Island Tours or Naturaliste Tours.

Where to Eat and Drink on French Island

French Island General Store
A stop in at the French Island General Store is a must!

The French Island General Store serves visitors a hearty menu every day of the year in their licensed cafe. They also sell groceries and gifts and offer an in-house post office, bottle shop and newsagency. You can also hire a bike!

Location: 289 Tankerton Rd, French Island
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 5 pm | Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 9am - 5pm

You can also organise a trip to the French Island Vineyards, a small family-run winery producing award-winning cool-climate Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris & Shiraz. The Cellar Door is open seasonally on Sundays for wine tastings and cheese platters from 12:30pm to 4pm. Bookings are essential. On other days, you can organise exclusive group bookings for a group of 10 or more and private tastings by appointment. They host plenty of fun wine events at the cellar door!

Location: Long Point, Tankerton, French Island

Accommodation on French Island

French Island Glamping
Glamping on French Island.

You can also stay overnight on French Island either camping, on a farm stay or in a B&B or guesthouse. Try Eco InnFIGS Cafe or French Island Glamping.

Get the latest information and changes to French Island local conditions at Parks Victoria.

Main Image: Visit Melbourne

More Sunday Drives Near Melbourne

Dandenong Ranges
Peninsula Hot Springs
Hanging Rock

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