Herbert Island



Herbert Island


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Herbert Island is a small island located in the Australian state of Victoria. It is situated in Port Phillip Bay, south of Melbourne and north-east of the Melbourne Airport. The island is privately owned by businessman Tim Gurner and his wife, fashion designer Randa Abdel-Fattah.

Herbert Island


Herbert Island is the only island in Port Phillip Bay that is privately owned. It was first settled by the Heales family from Tasmania in 1853 who built a small grist mill on the island. The island was then sold to Captain Fitzroy, the first British naval officer to sight Melbourne, and part of his claim included an extensive area around what is now Melbourne Airport which he named ‘Sandridge’.

The island was later bought by Colonel William Kennett and became part of his property Oyster Bay. In 1862 Kennett commissioned Augustus De Richleau to design a grand mansion which can be seen today on the eastern end of the island. The house was known as ‘Sandridge’ and its grandeur is reflected in an extravagant internal design decorated by Gillows (London).

There are very few buildings remaining from Captain Fitzroy’s Sandridge, except a small lonely lighthouse at Jackass Point which dates to 1857. One existing building built during this period still remains at Port Phillip Heads – The Tidal Towers where portions of catwalks can be found along with Victorian military riflemen quarters dating back to 1860 downstairs and servants rooms upstairs.


The climate is mild, averaging around 18 degrees Celsius all year round.

Natural hazards include: periodic cyclones in the Bay of Port Phillip; damaging sea flooding caused by tropical storms and storm surges; fire danger from grass fires on the island. Geography by Australian National Botanic Gardens Herbert Island is picturesque and very scenically located. It sits high on a rocky promontory above the northern end of Freshwater Bay – which could be reached by steps from Williamstown or Kings Way, both near the shoreline.

The island is privately owned but Peter’s Point towers over much of it and Lion Rock lies at its southern entrance. The coastline comprises rocks jutting out into shallow water showing clear evidence of past erosion and up to 6m resolution (in some cases) surf beaches on either side.


The aboriginal tribes of the area occupied the island for thousands of years. The first Europeans arrived in 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook, who is considered Australia’s first European settler, anchored off Point Lonsdale and claimed the land for Great Britain.

In 1802 Lt John Murray sailed through Bass Strait to explore what is now Victoria on behalf of King George III. He named Freshwater Bay after a freshwater stream that flowed into Port Phillip Bay near Williamstown where he anchored his ship while looking for an Aboriginal settlement he had observed from the sea earlier that year.


Australia’s first parliament was convened in Melbourne on 12 May 1835. Herbert Island is part of the electorate of Bass which has been held by the Australian Labor Party since 1972. The island has two small towns, one on each coast – Lion’s Head east of Lion Rock and Point Lonsdale west of it. There are also a few kilometers of bushland inland from the main townships, with some beaches and interesting rock formations to be found there if you wander around.

Government services

Herbert Island is part of the local government area of the Shire of Mornington Peninsula. The island’s main towns are served by a small hospital and several small stores, cafes and restaurants. There is also a post office, police station and community hall.

The island has limited transport facilities – there is no airport or railway line on the island and the only road access is via an unsealed gravel track that runs along its length from Lion Rock to Point Lonsdale. However, the walking track to Lion Rock is a really nice way of traversing both sides of the island.

There are ferry services from Point Lonsdale and elsewhere on Port Phillip Bay as well as coastal commuter boat services for inter-town commuting every half hour between Bass River at Crayfish Beach and Sayward near Frankston (a journey generally takes about 45 minutes). The roads around the Island can be flooded during storms which leaves access almost impossible until it recedes again.


Herbert island Tourism

Herbert Island is renowned for its beaches, bushland and rock formations – some of which are only accessible by foot. The island is also a great place to go birdwatching, as it’s home to over 230 species of birds including the world’s second largest wader flock (after Australia).

The island can be explored in a day or two if you want to cover all the attractions, but if you have more time there are several places where you can stay and relax for longer. There are several bed and breakfasts on the island as well as small campers and holiday cabins.

The island’s lighthouse is the only cast-iron structure in Victoria, and it has been restored to its original condition using precise stenciling of Dutch pottery jars as decorative items between 1875–1880 by two Congregational chaplains; Rev W R Smith & M P Jackson (Smith was also a botanist).


Herbert Island, located in the Bass Strait off the coast of Tasmania, is one of Australia’s most iconic sites. The island is a nature reserve and wetlands area and is home to several rare species of birds. It is also a popular spot for bushwalking, swimming, fishing, and boating.


1 . What is the Island’s Official Name?

Herbert Island does not have an official name. It is known simply as “the island”.

2. Who Owns the Island?

The island is privately owned by businessman Tim Gurner and his wife, fashion designer Randa Abdel-Fattah.

3. When Was the Island First Settled?

The first human inhabitants of Herbert Island were thought to be Aborigines who arrived there about 10,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of European settlement on the island dates back to 1788 when a group of French settlers arrived to farm the fertile land. Gold was later discovered in the northeastern portion of Herbert Island, attracting a number of miners and settlers from numerous countries across Europe. For example, Germany had significant settlements at Murtoa on Port Phillip bay and Geelong before being expelled by Eora people

4 . What Type is This Island?

Herbert Island is a natural, uninhabited and protected habitat.

5 . How Large is the Island?

The exact size of Herbert Island has not been determined. The islands are three-quarters of an acre in size up to approximately 1/2-acre at its furthest parts; this allows for sand dunes to form naturally on the beach front areas while retaining access points through creeks, rivers and reedy beds around each end of the island as wells as connections between waterways across Bawley Creek with those over Kiewa Reach in Tasmania’s River Derwent.

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