The Happy Campers of Green Patch

Why all the city-slickers out there should pitch a tent in this magical spot for your next holiday with mates.

A travel guide piece about one of my favourite places on earth, written for a journalism class in 2021.

Frolicking in the ocean, a highlight of the Green Patch experience (c: Anja Flamer-Caldera, 2021)

Acknowledgement of country
I would like to acknowledge the Yuin people, who are the Traditional Owners of the NSW South Coast area, Booderee National Park, and the land on which Green Patch is situated. Sovereignty has never been ceded on Yuin country. It always was, and always will be Aboriginal land.

Attention fellow young people: I’m officially a camping convert! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out here advocating for you to do a five-day shower-less trek through the wilderness. I have, however, found the perfect middle (camp)ground between the adventure master and the rookie.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, for all those looking to get away with your mates during your uni breaks, pitching a tent at Green Patch is the new renting a Central Coast AirBnB.

Picture this: You’re standing on a beach, looking at the clearest turquoise water. You’re surrounded by bright white sand and sky-high eucalypts. The calm waves of the bay are softly crashing, and you can hear a kookaburra laughing in the distance behind you. This is the serenity of Green Patch. Have I hooked you in yet?

One of my exploratory walks along the Green Patch coast (c: Anja Flamer-Caldera, 2019)

Just a 2.5 hour drive south of Sydney, nestled in the Booderee National Park on Yuin country, lies Green Patch, arguably one of the nicest campsites in NSW. It manages to showcase all the natural glory of the South Coast without forcing you to blow your budget on a huge holiday house amongst all the Jervis Bay retirees. It only costs $60 a night for the large, drive-in campsite, which includes all the National Park fees. So split between 4–8 people, it’s much more affordable for the average uni student than a big AirBnB.

Not to be corny, but camping at Green Patch has reminded me how awesome it is to be surrounded by nature, and why we need to get back down to basics. Sure, you’ll have to sleep on the hard, flat ground for a couple of nights. But there is nothing like waking up with the sun lighting up the tent walls, and the sound of birds singing all around you. And besides, if you’ve had sufficient fun playing cards and drinking games with your mates the night before, then you won’t even notice the lack of a mattress!

Then, you crawl out of your tent and into a comfy camp chair, curled up with a good book and a cuppa. The campground neighbours will pay you a visit, the friendliest being the many Eastern Grey Kangaroos. They’ll come right up to you for a nosey about — even the adorable joeys! Don’t feed them though, as human food is bad for our favourite native critters.

Soaking up the morning rays in style (c: Anja Flamer-Caldera, 2019)
Good morning neighbours! (c: Mimi Worssam, 2021)

Be warned, not all your neighbours are friendly!

One morning, as my friends and I were frying up breakfast on the camp stove, a kookaburra swooped down and stole a whole sausage straight out of my hand! We looked up, and the whole army of birds were strategically perched in branches all around us. Cheeky buggers…

Without a doubt, the proximity to the Jervis Bay beaches is the biggest draw card of Green Patch. Iluka Beach at Green Patch is lovely, and perfectly quiet in the months either side of the school summer holidays. You can go exploring to look for secret swimming spots and rock pools full of crabs and critters. My favourite spot is Bristol Point, where huge pieces of eucalyptus driftwood have washed ashore and made a sculpture gallery of sorts.

The perfect snap of a Bristol Point driftwood beauty. I wasn’t joking about the colour of the water!
(c: Anja Flamer-Caldera, 2019)

The campgrounds are also a 5-minute drive from what has been dubbed ‘the whitest sand in the world’ at Hyams Beach, one of the most beloved spots on the South Coast. Although subject to the seasonal influx of tourists, Hyams is a must-visit whilst staying at Green Patch. If you’re visiting in winter, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of migrating whales, and the dolphins are there all year round.

And if I haven’t convinced you yet, here is the holy trinity of Green Patch: hot showers, bathrooms that are cleaned daily, and sheltered BBQs for a good ol’ snag no matter the conditions. What more could you ask for?

Letting the others do all the hard work… (c: Anja Flamer-Caldera, 2019)
Even on colder days, Green Patch is full of surprises. (c: Anja Flamer-Caldera, 2019)

For me, it’s the perfect destination for campers of all levels of expertise, where all my mates can kick back and get back in touch with nature. Green Patch is now a no-brainer.

GREEN PATCH ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE:

How to get there

● 2.5–3-hour drive from Sydney. It’s a scenic coastal route along the M1 and the Princes Highway, past Wollongong, Kiama and Berry (all of which make great stops to break up the drive)

What to do

● Beach hopping — our top picks: Hyams Beach, Chinamans Beach, Huskisson Beach, Cave Beach (Snorkelling and diving, Hunting for an octopus in the rockpools)

● Go stargazing and dancing on Iluka Beach after dinner (don’t disturb the other campers!)

● Do your groceries at Vincentia HomeCo

● Get a meat pie and go thrift shopping in Vincentia Shopping Village

● Do a photoshoot at Bristol Point, using the driftwood as prop

● Take selfies with the local kangaroos

Essential packing items (other than camping gear — that’s a whole other can of worms!)

● A car, snags for the barbie, a deck of cards, alcohol, a portable speaker and phone charger, swimmers, a pair of thongs (for the shower mostly), and a happy camper attitude!

When to go

● Pretty much any time of year. Fair warning: it gets rainy in the winter. So unless you’re prepared to deal with a downpour in a campsite, I’d say Spring and Summer are your best bet.

● Great for a short weekend getaway, or for a long stay during your time off.

How to book your campsite

https://parksaustralia.gov.au/booderee/camping/green-patch/

● National Park employees are very useful for any questions about where to go, and for all your Yuin Country knowledge too.

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