French Island (Victoria)
|• Density||0.682/km2 (1.77/sq mi)|
|Area||170 km2 (65.6 sq mi)|
French Island is the largest coastal island of Victoria, Australia, located in Western Port, 61 km (38 mi) 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. The island is an unincorporated area and declared locality of Victoria.
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 3 km (1.9 mi) from Tankerton Jetty. Many of the locals actively promote environmental tourism. There is a range of accommodation, including camping, bed and breakfast, guesthouse and farmstay.
- 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 Ile des Français, 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.
- 17 July 1916 McLeod Prison Farm opens.
- 1967 - The SECV proposes the island as the site of the first Nuclear power plant in Australia.
- 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.
Tankerton Post Office opened on 3 September 1890 and closed in 1994. It reopened in 2001 under the name French Island. A Fairhaven office was also open from 1911 until 1957.
Proposed nuclear power plant site
In mid 1967, the SEC applied to the Lands Department for the reservation of 400 acres (1.6 km2) of French Island for future construction of a Nuclear power plant. The plant was speculated to have 350-500MW generator capacity and would likely have been built during the 1970s. Other plants around Australia were also envisioned after the construction of a successful, fully operational plant in Victoria. If the SEC did decide to construct a nuclear power station, it would have continued to construct brown coal power stations as well for some considerable time.
Due to the low cost of brown coal in Victoria and mounting pressure from the anti-nuclear movement, the SEC subsequently decided against commissioning a nuclear plant and instead continued the commissioning of brown coal plants. These included the Hazelwood Power Station, which was completed in 1971. Nuclear plants were not constructed in NSW as access to Black Coal allowed for bigger generators. The declaration of various areas of many Australian states as nuclear free zones was a key factor in the selection of coal plants over nuclear plants.
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 Sprinter 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. Generally this ferry does not carry visitor's vehicles. It is also possible to catch a passenger ferry from Cowes on Phillip Island.
There is no airport on the island as such, a few properties have private landing strips.
There are a few notable landforms which include:
- Mount Wellington - highest point on the island at about 96 m
- The Pinnacles - 66 m
- Harrop Hill
- Tortoise Head
Watercourses on the island include:
- Tankerton Creek
- Redbill Creek
- Mosquito Creek
- Brella Creek
At the 2011 census, French Island had a population of 116. In 2003 ten students were enrolled at the Perseverance Primary School. In 2009 five students were enrolled at the primary school. According to ACARA, in 2011 there were nine enrollments
Habitats range from coastal mangroves, swamps, heath, grasslands and blue gum[disambiguation needed] forests. Most koala populations on the mainland of Australia are affected by the chlamydia disease; however 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.
The network of more than 40 km of gravel roads and tracks are quiet and ideal for cycling. They are affected by rain and can become dangerous for the inexperienced. The island is generally flat or mildly undulating with the highest point being Mount Wellington(96m). Bicycles can be hired from the General Store. There is an abundance of walking tracks. Active pursuits include bushwalking, bird watching, horse riding, cycling. Everything that needs to be on the island comes via the French Island Barge. This service runs everyday of the year dependent on tide and appointments. There is one tour operator on the island, French Island Tours.
There is one free camping site in the National Park at Fairhaven, 4 km 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 French Island Eco Inn, Bayview and McLeod Eco Farm by arrangement.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "French Island (Statistical Local Area)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Retrieved 2008-04-11
- Our N-Power, Stephen Hall, The Age, 4 October 1967
- "Primary School Class Sizes". The Age. 28 April 2003. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- "School Profile". myschool.edu.au. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- French Island Community Association
- French Island Ferry Service
- National Park page at Parks Victoria
- French Island Tours
- French Island Eco Inn