French Island, in the Western Port between the Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island, is as off the grid as it gets, with their 116 residents powering their homes via solar power and generators.
The unspoilt, rugged beauty of French Island is unique and captivating, the slow pace enables visitors the opportunity to completely unwind and switch off from the day-to-day grind. The island runs completely off the grid with no main water or electricity, there is virtually no traffic, and famously, Kylie Minogue once owned a holiday home here.
Where to stay:
French Island Glamping is a truly unforgettable experience, situated on 100 impressive acres, the property combines modern comforts and facilities with the wonders of the great outdoors. Each European bell tent is fully furnished with a queen size bed, luxury bed linen, towels, lanterns, chairs, bluetooth speakers, board games and all the creature comforts for guests to relax and take in the view. The stunning communal kitchen and barbeque space is of the highest quality, and the fire pit is the perfect spot to roast a few marshmallows and share a camp story, or two. The surrounds at French Island Glamping offers a range of habitats to explore, from native woodlands to coastal wetlands, spectacular views across the rolling farms and bushland, plus ocean as far as the eye can see.
58 Barge Access Road, French Island. Ph: +61 498 843 850
What to do:
Two-thirds of French Island’s 170-square kilometres is national park, and now, visitors can explore more of the remote and fascinating island with Naturaliste Tours. Nature lovers will discover the history and natural beauty of this hidden destination, located just 15 minutes by ferry from the mainland. There are two new tours to choose from including a 1.5 hour Pinnacles and Wildlife Tour and a 2.5 hour history and wildlife offering. French Island has the largest Koala population in Australia and Naturaliste offers the chance to spot the cuddly locals as well as echidnas, potoroos, white-bellied sea eagles, king quail, unique orchids, amongst their natural habitat and spectacular coastal scenery. The fully guided, land-based tours run Tuesday through to Sunday in an impressive 12-passenger, four-wheel drive.
By appointment. Ph: +61 408 112 72
Eat, drink and unwind:
Established in 1998, French Island Vineyard is a hidden gem tucked away in the south-east corner of the untamed island. The cool climate, clean air and sandstone soil provides unique elements that delivers an adventurous flavour, which made their 2010 Pinot Noir an award-winner. Every step of the wine-making process is done on-site by the French Island Vineyard team - the vines are hand pruned and the fruit is handpicked at optimum ripeness, then the wine is bottled by winemaker Peter Hatton. The Vineyard opens for wine tastings, wood-fired pizzas and cheese platters every Sunday or other times by appointment.
Long Point, Tankerton, French Island. Ph: +61 477 818 255
Fig’s is the dedicated general store, licensed café, post office and newsagency one-stop shop for French Island. Since visitors can’t bring their cars onto the Island, the Fig’s team provide a complimentary shuttle bus service, picking up travellers direct from the ferry. Fig’s stock local produce including French Island honey, delicious preserves, wine from the vineyard, fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of homemade treats and generous meals to fuel a day of exploring on the island. Fig’s offer bicycle hire for visitors to get out and see the island in all its rugged beauty and even has a self-contained cottage for overnight guests.
289 Tankerton Road, French Island. Ph: +61 3 5980 1209.
The French Island Eco Inn is undergoing an exciting redevelopment as they work towards opening the first ever pub on the island. The property which is set on a hill, boasts awe-inspiring views over the island and Western Port Bay and offers accommodation options in a private cabin or dormitory-style cabin which are set to re-open this Easter. Visitors can make the most of stargazing, birdwatching and bushwalking all from the Eco Inn. The highly anticipated French Island pub is due to be ready by December 2018.
Western end of Tankerton Road, 300 metres from the French Island jetty. Ph: +61 3 5980 1234
French Island is easily accessible by a short 15-minute passenger ferry from two locations, Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula or Cowes on Phillip Island. Western Port Ferries have recently added even more services, meaning it’s easier than ever for people to make their way to Tankerton Jetty on French Island to escape the rat race. Tickets are $26 for an adult return and $12 for a child return.
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