French Island National Park

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French Island National Park

French Island National Park is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Bunurong People. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Bunurong Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.

French Island National Park is located in Western Port, just off the Mornington Peninsula. This ever-changing landscape is shaped by water, from rocky shorelines and sandy beaches to mangroves, saltmarshes and wetlands that shift with the tides and seasons.

Heathlands and open woodlands provide a home for wildlife, such as the Long-nosed Potaroo and Victoria’s most significant koala population. Critically endangered Eastern-barred Bandicoots have also been released into the bushland of the island. French Island has more than 580 indigenous plant species, including over 100 native orchid species. Over 230 bird species have been recorded on French Island, including rare birds such as the White-Bellied Sea-Eagle, King Quail, and the Orange-Bellied Parrot, as well as 33 species of waders that forage along the coast at low tide.

In the mud-flats, shell-fish, crabs, worms and other small animals provide rich pickings for ibis, herons and egrets. You may also see migratory waders, such as the Eastern Curlew, feeding on Ghost Shrimps and crabs, while the tiny Red-necked Stint searches nearby for worms and small crustaceans.

Plan a day trip to enjoy the short, half or whole-day walks from Tankerton Foreshore Reserve. Discover the island habitats by bushwalking through heathland and woodland along the 5km Old Coast Road walking track, or follow the shoreline along Fairhaven Beach at low tide to see roosting shorebirds. The West Coast Wetlands Walk (9.6km) climbs to the Pinnacles at 60m above sea level, offering expansive views of Phillip Island, Western Port and the wetlands.

Explore French Island with your mountain bike via the roads and cycleways, from the shorter Redbill Manna Gum Woodland Ride (8km) to the full-day Gartsides Ride (24km).

French Island is not accessible by car, unless destined for a permanent residence. If you need longer to explore, set up a beachside base camp at the Fairhaven Campground, 5km from the jetty. Try to spot koalas, Purple Moorhen, Swamp Harriers or Cape Barren Geese.

Things to do in the area

Fairhaven beach at French Island National Park

Fairhaven Campground

Fairhaven campground is located in the dunes behind the beach approximately 5km walk from the ferry terminal at Tankerton and 7.5km from the General Store.
Mum helps her young son as he jumps off a large piece of drift wood at West Cape Beach.

Beaches

Walk white sandy beaches, swim in cool coastal waters or surf the wild waves of the Southern Ocean.
Father and son bird watching on boardwalk

Bird watching

From bushland to wetlands and everything in between, parks provide habitat to an abundance of common and rare bird species. Go for a wander and see how many you can spot.
A husband and wife stop to take a photo of Masons Falls from the lookout.

Day trips

Pack the car and round up your family and friends. Whether you're seeking relaxation or adventure, parks offer a variety of day trips close to Melbourne.

Wildlife and Nature

French Island supports a large population of the Long-nosed Potoroo, as well as containing the most significant population of koalas in Victoria. The koalas reproduce so successfully that they eat themselves out of house and home. Each year over 200 are transferred to reserves in other parts of Victoria.

Wetlands, mangroves and salt marshes provide spectacular habitat for water birds year round, including the soaring sea eagles. Over 230 bird species have been recorded, as well as 33 species of waders which forage along the coast at low tide.

In the mud-flats, shell-fish, crabs, worms and other small animals provide rich pickings for ibis, herons and egrets. You may also see migratory waders, such as the Eastern Curlew, feeding on Ghost Shrimps and crabs, while the tiny Red-necked Stint searches nearby for worms and small crustaceans. Some birds fly from breeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere.

Little Penguins
Koalas
Echidnas
Seals
Dolphins
Weedy Seadragon
Crimson Rosella
Coral
Wedge-tailed eagles

Tours and adventure experiences in parks

One of the best ways you can get into nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator.

There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready and waiting to help you experience and connect with Victoria’s spectacular parks and waterways.

Discover more than 60 different types of nature-based experiences including hiking, mountain biking, boating, four-wheel driving, indigenous culture tours, birdwatching, surfing, diving and so much more. 

Licensed Tour Operators know the all best places to go and will plan and prepare your visit to ensure you are safe and can enjoy your nature-based adventure to the fullest.

Find a Licensed Tour Operator

How to get there

French Island National Park

French Island National Park is accessible by ferry from Stony Point and Cowes. Stony Point is located 80km south-east from Melbourne CBD.

Take the Western Port Ferries passenger ferry from Stony Point across to French Island. The trip takes 10 to 12 minutes and delivers you to Tankerton Jetty on French Island.

Tickets are available for purchase on the ferry or online. Check Western Port Ferries or phone (03) 5257 4565 for the ferry timetable and weather conditions. Ferry services can be cancelled at very short notice.

The only roads in the park open to vehicles are Link Road, Clump Road and Causeway Road (south of the junction with Link Road). Seasonal road closures apply.

When To Go

Camping & accommodation

Fairhaven Campground is located on the west coast foreshore, this is an idyllic overnight place to camp within a natural setting.

Check availability

Need to know

French Island National Park

Change of Conditions

Nature being nature, sometimes conditions can change at short notice. It’s a good idea to check this page ahead of your visit for any updates.

  • Fairhaven Campground (French Island National Park)

    No vehicle based camping

    There is no vehicle based camping allowed at Fairhaven Camground

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