Lunch is my favourite meal of the day. Well, to be perfectly honest, every meal is my favourite meal of the day.
However, if it is lunchtime, nothing is better than lunch with glorious water views. Even better if you have to travel to lunch by boat with your head full of sea breeze and salty air. An excellent way to stimulate the appetite, as if that ever needs stimulating!?
Here…grab a chair, sit down, tuck in your serviette and let’s have some lunch and a wine or two in the tiny seaside village of Patonga.
Where’s Patonga? I hear you ask…
Patonga is a blink-and-you-miss-it village tucked away in a protected bay on the Hawkesbury River – a short +60km North of Sydney. It is well off the beaten track, or whatever is the maritime equivalent of remote, tucked away and little-known, and one of the main attractions of eating in Patonga is the delightful ferry ride required to get there.
It was an absolute pearler of a Spring Sunday when we decided that lunch at Patonga was in order. After a short stroll through the bustling Palm Beach crowd, we joined the hungry masses and keen picnickers waiting impatiently on the timber pier.
In due course, the lovingly restored Merinda II puttered across the bay, expertly navigated through all the unloved and unused sailing boats, and tied up at the pier. She is an old-fashioned ferry and I get the feeling that she could run this route on automatic, such is her familiarity and comfort with this stretch of water.
It was an ideal day for a boat ride, but then every day is a good day to be out on the water. Motor boats zipped by churning up the seas and making our little ferry bob and weave. Sailing boats progressed far more elegantly, tacking precisely across the bay with sails plump and billowing.
Past the sandstone cliffs and colourful rock walls we puttered.
Past the grey/green Australian bush carelessly creeping and stumbling down to meet the sea.
Past some gun emplacements reminding us of the threats – real or imagined – of previous wars.
And beneath a skywriter marking out a massive ‘Trump 2020’ in the blue sky above us. What was he thinking? Why is this relevant to us? Or who had enough money to waste on such a thing??
So entranced was I with the journey that I didn’t even look at my watch to check how long we were on the boat. I estimate it was 20-30 minutes, but does it really matter on a lazy Sunday?
Note: If you have some flexibility and can choose your days to travel and lunch, I recommend avoiding the weekends. It was very busy with some jostling for space and an undignified stampede to get off the boat and into the pub at Patonga!
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, we were so relaxed by the boat ride that by the time our feet hit terra firma, we were one of +70 people queuing to get a seat in the pub. The Boat House pub at Patonga is the main place to eat. It also operates an upmarket Fish and Chip shop next door, but the pub is where it was all happening.
No problem. Doing our best to maintain our chilled Sunday vibe, we joined the back of the queue and used the time to people watch.
Patonga attracts a real mix of age and ethnicity. Families with young children were making the most of the sheltered waters while burkini clad ladies were whooping it up on jetskis. Harley Davidson riders, sweating in black leather queued patiently in front of us, shoulder-to-shoulder with a young, hip crowd intent on murdering a margarita.
The common link? Everyone was relaxed and loving life. What is not to love on a beautiful sunny day with the sound of waves lapping the shore and the contented laughter from others already sipping their sauvignon blanc?
Our turn finally came and we settled at our table to dine, wine and laugh the afternoon away. No topic remained untouched and we found that any problem could be solved with a glass or two of rosé.
In an effort to walk off a little of our lunch, we strolled along the beach and quickly plopped down on some large sandstone blocks to talk some more. The feel of the whole area is so laid back that any serious exertion seemed pretty pointless, so why not relax instead? Note: If you are a painter, get your easel and palette ready, you would love the scenes of bobbing boats and breaking waves.
If we had more energy we could have explored the rest of Patonga, apparently there are a couple of art galleries and a war memorial in some of the quiet back streets, but that can wait for another day.
Where had the afternoon gone?
It was time to wander down the timber pier again and return to Palm Beach. Back on the ferry, sunburned shoulders and noses spoke of a full day spent on or near the water and tipsy smiles and bulging bellies revealed more sedate, but no less satisfying activities.
Life just does not get better.
Where is your favourite lunch spot?
What: The return ferry ride is $21 for adults. Buy your tickets on the boat.
Where: The ferry departs from the Palm Beach wharf, on Pittwater side and just off Barrenjoey Road.
When: The ferry has very different timetables for weekdays, weekends and public holidays. There is only one return service on weekdays and six return trips on the weekends. I recommend you check their website when planning your lunch. The Boat House is open 7 days, from 11am to 8pm.
Why: To enjoy la dolce vita.
How: You can also drive there by a very circuitous route through Woy Woy and Umina
Who: Would-be sailors, foodies, sun lovers, and people with a powerful thirst.
Related Posts: For a much faster and wetter boat ride, how about we charge down the Tasmanian coastline?
Related Blogs: To learn more about the history of Patonga and some of its colourful residents, check out this community blog.
Read About It: To get into the spirit of this part of NSW, grab a copy of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River as she tells the story of early colonial settlement in this part of the World, especially further up the Hawkesbury River. Grab a copy from Book Depository.
#patonga #travelinspo #longlunch #lazydays #letsdolunch #waterviews #sunandsand #wininganddining #happydaze #palmbeach #boatrides