French Island (Victoria)


French Island (Victoria)

French Island is located in Western Port, Victoria, Australia, 61 km southeast of Melbourne. In 1997 about 70 per cent of the island was declared the French Island National Park, and is listed in the register of the National Estate.

French Island is relatively isolated and undeveloped. There are no mains water, mains electricity, or medical services on the island. There is one small general store and post office located on Tankerton Road about 3km from Tankerton Jetty. Many of the locals actively promote environmental tourism. There is a range of accommodation from camping, Bed and Breakfast, Guesthouse, to McLeod Eco Farm (former prison farm).

Access

There is easy access to the island by suburban train and ferry. Catch a train on the Frankston railway line to Frankston station; change trains to catch a diesel locomotive service on the Stony Point railway line to Stony Point, where it is a short walk along the jetty to catch the passenger ferry to Tankerton jetty on French Island. It is also possible to catch a passenger ferry from Cowes on Phillip Island.

Population

At the 2006 census, French Island had a population of 89.Census 2006 AUS
id=255208529
name=French Island (Statistical Local Area)
accessdate=2008-10-08
quick=on
] In 2003, 10 students were enrolled at the Perseverance Primary School. [cite news|title=Primary School Class Sizes|url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/04/28/1051381888830.html|publisher=The Age|date=2003-28-04|accessdate=2008-10-09]

Natural Environment

Habitats range from coastal mangroves, swamps, heath, grasslands and blue gum forests. Most koala populations on the mainland of Australia are affected by the chlamydia disease. French Island provides the world's most dense and disease free population of koalas, with regular transfer of excess koalas to repopulate diseased areas on the mainland. Shelter is provided for more than 100 species of bush orchids, and 260 species of birds. Significant species on the island include: King Quail, the Critically Endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, Fairy Tern, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Swamp Skink, Long-nosed Potoroo.The island is one of only two places in Victoria where the invasive red fox is not present, which has enabled the island to maintain a variety of indigenous species which have been devastated by the predator elsewhere including Phillip Island. However rabbits, feral cats, feral goats, feral pigs, Indian Mynahs and starlings pose a threat to the island's biodiversity.

Transport

As the only cars used on the island are by residents, the network of more than 40km of gravel roads and tracks are quiet and ideal for cycling. The island is generally flat or mildly undulating with the highest point being Mt Wellington (96 m). Bicycles can be hired from the General Store, Macleod Eco Farm and Bayview. There is an abundance of walking tracks. Active pursuits include bushwalking, bird watching, horse riding, cycling, and as a base for deep sea fishing.

Two local tour companies, French Island Tours and French Island Eco Tours, can provide bus tours of the island by arrangement.

Camping

There is one free camping site in the National Park at Fairhaven, 4km up the coast road from Tankerton Jetty, where the ferry arrives from Stony Point. The camp site is set among trees near the beach, with one public toilet and a water tank. Other camping is available at "private sites" at Bayview and McLeod Eco Farm by arrangement.

History

* According to Aboriginal tribal songs, the Bunarong Tribe lived and hunted on French Island, until they were massacred by a warring Gippsland tribe
* April 1802 First discovered by Europeans when a French expedition from the ship "La Naturaliste" explored the area, naming it "Île de Françoise", since anglicised as French Island.
* 1847 First settled by William and John Gardner.
* 1880s Koalas introduced to the island.
* 1890s Establishment of several village settlements, under Government settlement programs. Planting of chicory and establishment of some 30 chicory kilns.
* July 17, 1916 McLeod Prison Farm opens
* 1975 McLeod Prison Farm closes
* July 1997 about 70 per cent of the island declared as part of the French Island National Park.
* May 2002 waters directly north of French Island declared as French Island Marine National Park

References

External links

* [http://www.interislandferries.com.au/ French Island Ferry Service]
* [http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/1park_display.cfm?park=52 National Park page at Parks Victoria]
* [http://www.frenchisland.org/ French Island Tourist Association] (this link has expired) * [http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~aussie/ French Island Eco Tours]


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