Patterson River is part of an Aboriginal cultural landscape in the traditional Country of the Bunurong People. Parks Victoria respects the deep and continuing connection that Bunurong Traditional Owners have to these lands and waters, and we recognise their ongoing role in caring for Country.
Patterson River is the most popular boating and fishing access point to Port Phillip. Located approximately 28kms south-east of Melbourne CBD, it is also a great place for recreational activities including walking, jogging and bike riding.
Patterson River is a unique man-made waterway created in 1878 to provide direct drainage from the Dandenong Valley catchment area. Prior to Patterson River, this runoff flowed into the Carrum Swamp which spread behind the sand dunes between Mordialloc and Frankston with the only outlets to the bay being Mordialloc Creek and Kananook Creek at Frankston.
Patterson River is home to four two-lane boat ramps and a large car and trailer parking area. Meanwhile, the riverbanks are home to a flat 6km gravel circuit trail perfect for walking or jogging with friends or a dog on lead.
Beyond the 6km Patterson River circuit trail – trail networks connect in almost all directions. To the east along Dandenong Creek Trail, to the south-east along Peninsula Link Trail, to the north along Chelsea Long Beach Trail and to the north-west and south-west along the Frankston Railway Trail. Please follow trail etiquette, keep to the left of the path unless it is impractical to do use and cyclists please use a bell or similar warning device when overtaking other path users.
To the west of Launching Way, there are picnic shelters and barbecues and at the east end of the car park near Ramp 4 there are toilets and a sheltered wheelchair-friendly picnic area.
For those looking for freshwater-based sporting activities, the National Water Sports Centre is a well-known feature of Patterson River that's available for bookings. Bookings are available for boat tests, waterskiing and wakeboarding. You can also download the public access timetable. All other club activities and venue hire operate through the Parks Victoria event permitting team.
Dogs are permitted on lead at Patterson River.
Things To Do
Boating at Patterson River
Fishing along Patterson River
Patterson River 6km Circuit Trail
Water Sports at the National Water Sports Centre
This area is well known for its wildlife. Keep an eye out for:
Tours and adventure experiences in parks
One of the best ways you can get into nature is with a Licensed Tour Operator.
There are more than 400 Licensed Tour Operators across Victoria who are ready and waiting to help you experience and connect with Victoria’s spectacular parks and waterways.
Discover more than 60 different types of nature-based experiences including hiking, mountain biking, boating, four-wheel driving, indigenous culture tours, birdwatching, surfing, diving and so much more.
Licensed Tour Operators know all the best places to go and will plan and prepare your visit to ensure you are safe and can enjoy your nature-based adventure to the fullest.
How to get there
The river begins at the joining of the Eumemerring and Dandenong Creeks at the National Watersports Centre before its short journey to the sea. Parking is available off Launching Way in Carrum. If you're visiting by train, Frankston train line to Carrum Station is conveniently located right next to the mouth of Patterson River.
When to go
During the summer months, Patterson River boat launching ramps are utilised by a large number of families accessing Port Phillip for all their boating adventures. The reserve itself, west of the launching facilities, is a great place to have a picnic in the warmer months or make use of the various barbecues facilities onsite. Why not organise a return bike trip along the Dandenong Creek trail and schedule your lunch break on the banks of the Patterson River.
Need to know
Wheelchair access is available on Station Street (both sides of the river, north/south), Dahmen Street, La Perouse Boulevard and Launching Way.
Parks Victoria has a dedicated electric hoist at the Patterson River boat ramps to assist wheelchair users to transfer safely in and out of boats. The hoist is free to use and is available to approved users who have attended a hoist safety induction session.
Please note that the hoist is designed for lifting people in/out of boats and it is not designed for lifting wheelchairs. It is recommended that users of the hoist are seated in a manual wheelchair when using the hoist and also bring their own sling.
Visitors interested in using the hoist are first required to attend a free induction session, provided by a qualified hoist trainer, on how to safely operate the hoist. For further information on the hoist and the induction sessions, contact Parks Victoria on 131963.
In Victoria there are a wide range of facilities to help people of all abilities enjoy our wonderful parks around the state.
Assistance dogs are welcome in Parks Victoria parks and reserves. Entry requirements apply for parks and reserves that are usually dog prohibited, such as national parks.
As Victoria's most popular boating facility, Patterson River at Launching Way can sometimes be crowded, and hazardous to navigate.
It’s crucial for boaters and paddlers in Victorian waters to know the forecast conditions prior to launching. Please download the Boating Vic app for the information boaters and paddlers need before heading out.
Trip preparation cameras have been installed at Patterson River and are accessible via the Boating Victoria app. These cameras enable potential visitors to view current carpark and queuing status to ensure an informed decision can be made prior to leaving home.
It is important for all vessel operators to check the operating rules of a particular waterway before you head out. You can find this information in the Vessel Operating and Zoning Rules (VOZR) on the Marine Safety Victoria Website. View the interactive map.
The mouth of the Patterson River is included in the Port Phillip / Western Port Bay wide dredging program and consequently the mouth of the river is dredged on an as needs basis. It is the vessel operator’s responsibility to be aware of the local conditions and operate in a safe manner. Whilst dredging operations are underway please ensure vessel operators are familiar with the lights and day shapes displayed on the dredge vessel which indicate safe passage.