Patonga Caravan Park is nestled along Ettalong beach and Patonga Creek – just 5min from Umina and 90mins from Sydney. It has clean and modern amenities, and the front office comes complete with a kiosk that serves snacks, milk, bread, bait for fishing and refreshments.
As a newbie when it comes to camping, it could not have been more perfect as a way to transition this self-confessed lover of creature comforts to the world of outdoor activities.
But first I needed to be kitted out. I headed to Kmart and invested in a Jackeroo 5 person tent (I like my space), camping stove, cutlery and pots – all for under $200. That way if I decided camping is not for me I will not have to take out a loan to pay for my newly founded hobby.
We arrived at the caravan park and set up camp. Things to consider before pitching your tent – or so I have learned is:
- keep away from overhanging branches
- aim for as flat ground as possible
- try to keep out of the wind if possible
After setting up camp, we called the local Kayaking company to organise kayaks for rental and then headed down for a walk along Ettalong beach. It is good to keep active during the day so you are not too cold once the sun goes down. Or take a stroll with as many layers as possible!
Fire pits are permitted in Winter at the caravan park – firewood is BYO. When you are camping in cold temperatures, this is your best friend for the night:
It was that night when my sleeping bag failed me. The temperature dropped to 8 degrees and i had three layers of clothes on but my sleeping bag was a hand-me-down from my brother that was from the 80s. Lesson learned – try a sleeping bag that was designed for colder temperatures, and better yet, stuff your sleeping bag with your spare clothes to keep you warm. As a novice, I brought an air mattress to sleep on which stops the cold coming up from the ground, however I have been told that a self inflating mattress is a must-have.
Failing that, you can always sleep in the car, and learn from your mistakes for the next camping trip.