The conversation usually starts like:
Me: Hey! I am going to French Island tomorrow. The plan is to ride around the island for as long as we can. You know how bad cyclist I am!
Friend 1: Aww that’s so cool. But where is this place?
Friend 2: Never heard of it man.
Friend 3: Why are you going to an island to ride? You can just do that here, no?
For the first two questions, the answer is somewhere north to Philip Island (which is famous for it’s Penguins Parade aka tourist attraction). Unlike Philip Island, French Island is actually an island with no road connections. Perhaps that’s the reason why it is not so popular/known to people living in Melbourne. With it’s population of about 100, it offers a lot of land with nothing built on it. It is a classic countryside with not-so-well developed roads, more than half of the island being a national park (where no-one visits), huge and numerous farms and rare sights of humanity every once a while.
For the last question, I’d say it’s a cool idea. You get to see an entire island within a day, without any travel van or tour bus! You can stop wherever you want, you don’t need gasoline on the way and in the end, you’d be proud of yourself for doing something that not many would prefer to do.
My vision of this island was not as barren as it really was. There was one, only one, general store cum post office on the island. No other restaurant/convenience store/grocery store/hotel/motel/you name it. If you are going there, you can count on your fingertips the number of houses you’ll see. I don’t think I’d be wrong if I’ll tell you that there are more cows than humans on this island!
Our original plan was to get to the farthest “view” point called as the Albions. It just seemed like a good turn-back point for the whole-island plan. Though I have never rode this far, I thought that if we’ll just go slow, I could make it without passing out on the way back. But as the mighty Forrest Gump once said “SHIT HAPPENS”. It happened with us too.
One of our friends got a flat tire a couple of times during the way. It was not always his fault, thanks to the bumpy ride. We mended it less than a couple of times before finally calling it off. Alas! We couldn’t get to the point where we wanted to but it was hell of a ride amidst those muddy roads and the beautiful landscapes offered by this tiny piece of land.
With a bike punctured completely, we resorted to a hike back to the ferry terminal. Due to limited number of ferries, the change of plans was inevitable. We reached half an hour earlier before the last ferry departs. In the meantime, we enjoyed the clear night sky and let me give you the privilege to enjoy the scenery of this place 😉
On the way back taking the last ferry, it was a bad idea that we didn’t check the train schedule as the last ferry that arrives stony point at 6.45, the next train is 8.30!! Had we taken the previous ferry (which arrives SP at 6.15), the next train would had been at 7. Much better! Anyway, we hung out with the kiosk guy until 8 (when they were closing). He made us some nice hot chips which was a treat in the shivering cold.
More information: http://interislandferries.com.au/