The idea of a Friends for French Island was born in September 1983 when a large group from the Victorian National Parks Association spent a weekend on the island in the company of Des Quinn, who had been studying the birdlife of the island for more than twenty years. With the support of the VNPA, the inaugural meeting of Friends of French Island was then held on Saturday 18 February 1984 at Avalon, the home of Allan and Kathleen Chandler. The fifteen people in attendance included Geoff Durham from the VNPA, who gave a short presentation on the history and functions of Friends groups, and Percy Pulham, Fisheries and Wildlife Ranger, who welcomed FOFI's support. At the meeting, Des Quinn was declared Convenor, with support from Chris Chandler who had accompanied Des on many of his visits to the island. Project days were to be held on the first Saturday of the month, and the first official project day was weed removal at Tortoise Head on Saturday 7 April.

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