Patonga Beach Camping Reserve

Sometimes those spur of the moment decisions reveal unexpected gems.

What an amazing find this place is! We wanted to take the new Camper Trailer on a shakedown trip and see how we went camping in the cold using our Aldi thermals. Its preparation for Tasmania in Sept.

Pre-requisites for this trip:

  • Close to home in case it goes balls up.
  • Must have a fire. Its just not camping without a fire. 

A little bit of googling and reading of and Patonga reared its head. Being on the central coast its only a short blast up the freeway from Sydney and during Winter you can have a fire. Result! I had 3 days of leave so we went for a 5 day long weekend after a quick call we bagged one of the last free sites.

How much nicer is it to pack with a camper trailer? It’s like playing Tetris on level 1 after playing on level 23 for years. The Drifta draws in the trailer took all of our clothes, the Drifta drawers in the Prado took all our food and my recovery year and odds and sods. I never leave home without the recovery gear. Old habits picked up from the years in Africa with my dad I suppose.

We left at about 11am on Thursday so the run up out of Sydney wasn’t too bad and after a quick blast we were soon turning of the freeway towards Umina. With a full load you definitely notice the camper though. The trusty Prado no longer racing up the hills. But it’s nice to be slower in a way. Luckily DD slept all the way so no screaming to contend with either. 

Driving through Umina TomTom took us under a low bridge – 2.3m. I know I’ve got 2.1m clearance even after the lift but we had the Oztent on top. Aargh. Gingerly we edged forward. So it turns out we’ve got 2.3 even with the Oztent on top. Phew!

Despite only being a few kms from the Central Coast Patonga feels miles away as you follow the road up over the hill and through parts of the Bisbane Water national park. It really gives you this sense of seclusion and of being away from it all. Soon we were heading down the hill and into Patonga.

At first impressions it gives this great feeling of sleepy little coastal town. Which isn’t surprising because that’s what it is!

Patonga occupies a small triangle of land. Backing into the Brisbane water National park it is bounded on one side by ocean and the Patonga creek on the other. The campground is at the Apex of the triangle where creek meets the sea. The beach is in a calm cove and in the distance you can glimpse Barrenjoey lighthouse. 


Patonga Beach Panorama looking towards Barrenjoey lighthouse
Past the hotel and we were soon at the entrance to the campground. The campground itself is council run, bookings can be made by phone. Number  is available via Gosford council’s website. It is public land with a small carpark at the far end. And quaintly an area reserved for “creek residents”. This is because there is a ribbon of houses on the far bank of the creek with no road access. All access is by small boat across the creek so this is where they leave their cars. Despite this, you never actually feel as though you are on a public thoroughfare. 

Patonga creek houses only accessible by boat
Looking up river

The campsite is small and well run with a little playground and amenities separated from the public by the use of a pin code. The store has basics and coffee. Though I would highly recommend the Patonga bake house coffee. Sites are reasonable size though most are unpowered. At no times I’ve the June long weekend did it feel crowded.


Campground pre crowds


Setting up

The purpose of the trip was to practice setting up the camper and Oztent combo. 48 minutes. Not bad for a first effort especially as we usually have to stop every 5 minutes to deal with ‘really important kids issues’.
We then decided we were too far back and were encroaching on the neighbouring site, so had to move the whole shebang forward about 2 meters. Lesson learnt – lift up the stabiliser legs before moving your trailer. Oops!


The setup works well with us and the youngest in the rear fold camper trailer and the two boys in the Oztent. We’ll still have to work on the gap between tent and awning as the Oztent. When it rained the first night their was a nice pool in front of the Oztent. Once we were set up on the quiet Thursday it was our turn to watch the influx on Friday and have a wine whilst the others all set up there tents.

Overall very happy with the set-up we’ve got. Its easy and works for us. There’s few things still to add but not much.


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