Take a Sunday Drive (and Ferry!) To French Island
And now for something completely different... a Sunday Drive plus ferry to the largest coastal island of Victoria, French Island.
It's a perfect escape from the rat race, being largely undeveloped and uninhabited - 70% of the island itself is the French Island National Park, home to unspoilt landscapes and native animals.
With an environmental bent, the island's residents live with no mains water, electricity, or medical services, but instead live off the land in an eco-friendly way. You too can stay either camping, farmstay, B&B or in a guesthouse.
How to Get There
French Island is only 61km south east of Melbourne, but it's not so easy to get to. Access to the island is by the Western Point Ferries passenger ferry running daily from Stony Point pier to Tankerton Jetty. The 15-minute ferry does not carry vehicles; however ample parking is provided at the Stony Point Foreshore.
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 transfers from the ferry to the store via a courtesy bus (for diners or bike hirers). Call 5980 1209 before you board the ferry and let them know your arrival time so you can be met on arrival.
For the latest information on changes to local conditions, please check Parks Victoria for information.
What to see on French Island
French Island is a diverse wilderness, with habitats ranging from coastal mangroves, 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 the've ever seen one of those?!).
What to do on French Island
Walk through unspoiled natural bushland or along beaches where your only companions are hundreds of wading birds. Experience wonderful walks and bike rides through a range of habitats. There are day, half day and shorter walks and rides starting at Tankerton Foreshore Reserve (see the information display at Tankerton for more information).
The topography is mainly flat and gently undulating and at 60 metres above sea level, 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.
Active pursuits include bushwalking, bird watching, horse riding, cycling. There is one tour operator on the island, French Island Tours.
Where to Eat on French Island
The French Island General Store serves visitors a hearty menu every day of the year, and also sell goods to the visiting public.
Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm
Saturday - Sunday 9am - 5pm
All public holidays 9am - 5pm
03 5980 1209
289 Tankerton Rd, French Island
Or for something different, organise a trip (by appointment only, call 0477 818 255) to the French Island Winery cellar door. Established in 1998, French Island Vineyards is a small family run winery producing award-winning cool climate Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris & Shiraz and host plenty of fun wine events at the cellar door.
There is a $10 tasting fee refundable on purchases.
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Main Image Credit: Visit Victoria