Patterson River


Patterson River

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

A kayaker on the river at Patterson River

Boating at Patterson River

The most popular reason to visit Patterson River is to go boating. The facility has ten boat launching ramps — two 3 lane ramps and two 2 lane ramps. There is also a large car and trailer parking area. Even if you don't have a boat, you can still enjoy a cruise along the river and on the bay with one of the commercial boat operators who conduct tours. The nearby National Water Sports Centre nearby is used by a wide range of water sports groups. Recreational paddlers are encouraged to use Patterson River as a transit lane out into Port Phillip.
View along the river at Patterson River

Fishing along Patterson River

Fishing along the river is permitted by Victorian fishing license holders. Patterson River is a well-regarded fishing spot where your catch of the day could range from Mullet, Australian Salmon, bream and the elusive Mulloway. Fishing charters are offered by several operators year-round at Patterson River however the fishing action tends to increase during Snapper season from September to March.
A walking path and picnic tables along the river at Patterson River

Patterson River 6km Circuit Trail

Explore the estuarine and saltwater portion of the river via this family-friendly 6km circuit trail. Start at any location or from the main carpark at Launching Way. This trail is most popular for walkers, runners and families with a mostly flat wide gravel surface and ramped river crossing near the river mouth. The (6km circuit 1.5-hour walk) is also suitable for bicycles and prams.
The National Water Sports Centre at Patterson River

Water Sports at the National Water Sports Centre

The National Water Sports Centre (NWSC) is used for a diverse range of water-based activities including rowing, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, triathlons, coarse angling and radio-controlled yachts. If you're into rowing, waterskiing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, coarse angling, jet-skiing, radio-controlled yachting, boat shows, boat testing, or special training sessions, this is your place to get into nature.

Patterson River

This area is well known for its wildlife. Keep an eye out for:

Wedge-tailed eagles

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.

Find a Licensed Tour Operator

How to get there

Patterson River

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

Patterson River

Change of Conditions

Nature being nature, sometimes conditions can change at short notice. It’s a good idea to check this page ahead of your visit for any updates.

  • Notices Affecting Multiple Sites

    Removing hazards to navigation at Patterson River entrance

    Maintenance dredging is conducted at Patterson River entrance to remove navigation hazards.   
    The dredged sand will be deposited on the adjoining beach south of the river entrance where it can provide benefit to the beach profile. 
    Coastal sands often contain fine particles and organic material, mostly seaweed, which can sometimes give it a dark colour and mild odour.  While the freshly dredged sand may look unpleasant when it first comes out of the water, after several days’ exposure to the air and sun, the sand will return to the normal colour and lose any odour.    
    Suspended particles in the water may create some local turbidity, but this will also dissipate and settle quickly once dredging ends.
    Dredging may take between 4 and 8 days depending on weather conditions and the quantity of sand to be moved.
    For more information, please refer to the Community Update sheet below.

  • Patterson River

    Patterson River entrance depth monitoring survey

    The most recent depth monitoring survey of the Patterson River entrance is provided below.

    Patterson River survey information disclaimer:
    Parks Victoria does not warrant that the information provided is accurate and up to date.

    All boat operators are advised to navigate with caution, as conditions can change quickly and sand can accumulate across the entrance and cause reduced depth within the channel.

    The information provided is intended as a guide only and does not replace the judgement of the operator of the vessel.  Boat operators should be familiar with Notices to Mariners published on the Victorian Regional Channels Authority website and are advised to check weather and tidal conditions prior to accessing the entrance.  

    Depth shown is to Chart Datum.
    This survey will be replaced when a new one becomes available.

    Attachments: 231114-PA (4,833KB)

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