French Island Eco-Tours
There’s a hidden gem in Victoria that most people don’t know about: Phillip Island’s larger neighbour French Island.
It has a permanent population of less than 60 people and the primary focus is on eco-tourism, making it a secluded and amazing place for bicycling, watching more than 200 species of birds, walks through wildflower fields and heath lands with hundreds of plant species, bus tours and camping.
There are no sealed roads, no piped water and it’s independent from outside electricity; 70 percent of the island is National Park, but there’s even more to it than that. McLeod Prison Farm, founded in 1916 and closed down in 1975, was the first Australian prison to introduce television.
Today it’s not only a historic tourist venue, but also an organic farm. The French Island Llama experience offered by Tanderum Farm is also not to be missed, and a wonderful way of exploring the whole island is by tour. Two companies, French Island Eco-Tours (1300 307 054) and French Island Bus Tours ( 5980 1241), offer coach tours departing from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula.
“I’D NEVER HEARD OF FRENCH ISLAND BEFORE, BUT AFTER LUNCH WITH SOME LOCAL LLAMAS I’LL NEVER FORGET IT. SAY HI TO THE MINOGUE FAMILY WHILE YOU’RE THERE!” – Catriona Rowntree
WHERE // French Island is a short ferry ride across Westernport Bay from Stony Point, southeast of Melbourne. You can also get there from Cowes on Phillip Island.
DID YOU KNOW? // French Island houses the world’s densest and most disease free koala population. Keep your eyes peeled for them at recreation hall and the post office at Tankerton where the ferries dock.