Paterson, 31, spent last season playing for North Queensland feeder club Mackay Cutters in Australia‘s Queensland Cup.
The former York, Keighley, Batley, Featherstone, Swinton and Widnes utility has been out of the English game for three years, after spending two years in France with Carpentras before his move Down Under.
Whitehaven head coach Dave Woods said: “If we are to bring young kids through over the next couple of years, we need experienced players to help, and he fits the bill. He’s a ball player, who can play at loose or in the halves, so he gives us options. He has played at this level and knows what’s required.
“To move to another country, you need to have something.
“And he has said if he can get a job in Whitehaven he will move here, which would be great for us. He has committed to it and wants to do well.”