French Island (Victoria)

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French Island is the largest coastal island in Victoria, Australia, located in Western Port, 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. The island is an Unincorporated area 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 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). French Island may also refer to French Island off the Chinese coast. (See John Henry Cox).



  • According to Aboriginal tribal songs, the Bunarong Tribe lived and hunted on French Island, until they were massacred by a warring Gippsland tribe.[citation needed]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.
  • 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.[1]

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.[2]

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