Tag Archives: solo travel

Patonga to Mt Wondabyne Overnight Hike

The seaside village of Patonga is one of the nicest spots on Central Coast of NSW, with calm waters, golden sand and spectacular views across the water to the Northern Beaches. If you just want to rock up, have a decent feed at the pub and enjoy the serenity, that’s great, but the area is best explored by hiking along the section of The Great North Walk that leads out of town. The views are tops, the track is well maintained, and for the more adventurous, it’s possible to make it over to Mount Wondabyne for an overnight stopover in the bush.

The track is easy to find; just follow the beach east from the pub, and you can’t miss it as it winds up into the thick coverage of the headland (but click here for in-depth directions if you’re worried about getting lost and being forced to live on tree sap and wallaby dung). It’s not long before the path offers up stunning views back over Patonga, across the legendary Hawkesbury River, and out towards Palm Beach. Warrah Lookout is around 2km from the beach and fenced, but there are heaps of other spots along the walk that offer more open views (just stay away from the cliff if you’ve spent the past four hours at the pub).

Most people turn around at this point, but if you’ve got enough provivions, the walk continues another 8km up to Mount Wondabyne (and another 120km or so up to Newcastle – you’d want more than a 600mL bottle of Coke and a bag of Twisties in your backpack to tackle that, though). It’s a good walk, crossing creeks and dipping into valleys while the cicadas sing loudly and birds flutter around in the trees. Mount Wondabyne is remote and beautiful, with a pak that offers jaw-dropping views out towards the coast.

I tried to hike to Mount Wondabyne a year ago, but had to abandon my adventure when I was caught up in a ferocious electrical storm and had to hide in a cave (and subsequently spent the night drying off on my lounge whilst watching the mid-80s sporting classic, Rudy). This time, I headed out in winds that were approaching 50km/h, because I’m an idiot. The wind was smashing in and getting worse all the time as I arrived and, to make it worse, the drought meant that the ground at the campsite was so hard I could barely pitch my tent (ladies, I swear that’s the only time I’ve had that problem). As I tried to sleep, the wind was gusting in at close to 90km/h, which was loud enough to tear me from my slumber as it tried to tear my shelter off me.

It’s possible to continue along the track and spend the next night at Mooney Mooney or Somersby, but my car was back at Patonga, so just after sunrise I retraced my steps. I was tired and grumpy after a bad night’s sleep, and things were made worse when I crossed paths with a couple of good-looking Danish sheilas who were heading up to sleep at Mount Wondabyne that night. If I’d headed up a day later, I could’ve shared a tent with them, because there’s looked quality. To lift my mood, I nipped into the pub for a quick beer… which turned into an all-day session, and I ended up having to pitch my tent in a local park to spend the night.

WHERE: Patonga, at the southern end of the Central Coast, in NSW, Australia
WHY: It’s a great spot for hiking and camping

DON’T MISS: As well as unreal views out over the Hawkesbury River, the walk provides a scenic look at historic Woy Woy tip

IF YOU’RE THIRSTY: The Patonga Beach Hotel is a beautiful old pub with a remarkable view and cold beers (just don’t expect them to be cheap)

AND IF YOU’RE HUNGRY: The Patonga chippie does great food (and also sells booze). Make sure you lead up before heading into the bush, or you’ll be eating bark for dinner

WOMENFOLK: In Patonga itself, you might be able to find a pensioner who’s up for it. Up at Mount Wondabyne, a possum might be your best bet


Leaving Santorini


I planned to stay in Santorini for three days, but I ended up stretching it to five days, for a few reasons. A major reason is that, after two months on the road, I’m sick of checking into and out of hotels, so the idea of spending a run of nights in the same place sounds pretty bloody good. The island is certainly not beautiful, with dirty brown cliffs and tons full of scooters and idiots with tattoos and shit haircuts, but it has its own charm and is a pleasant place to hang out and do nothing. But the main reason I’ve stayed is because I’ve met good people, and when travelling alone that’s about the most important thing you can find.


My hotel has a policy of grouping people of the same nationality together (or maybe they just like to put all the drunken Aussies together), and after a few months without talking to someone from my homeland it was a really welcome change.  I met some lovely Queensland girls (a phrase you won’t hear often) who were good value and shared a delightful Oia sunset and a few drinks with me.


There’s even been a bit of romance with another lass I met. At two days (and not counting) it was one of my longer relationships. I felt like Lena out of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, except my romantic Santorinian experience didn’t involve a hunky Greek man who turns out to be married. I swear it didn’t – it involved a pretty lady. It was ships passing in the night, with me heading to Sri Lanka and her to Berlin, but that’s not necessarily bad because it doesn’t give things time to go bad.


Being alone overseas means inevitably holding brief friendships closer to the heart than in normal situations. When you travel, you give a part of yourself to every place you visit and every person you meet, and in return they give you something, which is why it’s such a transforming experience. It’s wonderful and difficult at the same time, and a reason why I often find it easier to keep moving on when I’m travelling – cut down that attachment, and the resultant difficulty of moving on.


Having a travel buddy (while not always a good idea) would alleviate a lot of those problems. Having a constant person who can be there when everyone else has left or been left would make it so much easier, but would that be a good thing? There’s something wonderful in the sweet sadness of leaving someone who’s just passed through your life, probably never to be seen again. Probably just the ramblings of a drunk, but it’s how I feel.


Having spent most of my time in Santorini within spitting distance of my hotel, I decided to spend my last day checking out some of the other parts of the island. I jumped on a bus to the Red Beach at the southern end of the island and, well, I probably shouldn’t have bothered. The red cliffs that give the beach its name are nice, but the strip of dirty sand was nasty and covered in rubbish. The water was filthy, with sharp rocks constantly trying to poke into my feet. Unlike Naxos, Santorini is certainly not a place to visit if you have any interest in going to beaches that aren’t as horrible and red as Amanda Vanstone’s vagina.


It’s time to move on to my final destination in Europe – the quiet, laid back island of Paros. Prepare for lots of posts about me lying in the sun, drinking beer and doing as little as humanly possible…