This lake and namesake village on the Shoalhaven Coast is a giant natural playground for all kinds of outdoor fun, from stand-up paddleboarding to horseback riding.
St Georges Basin also sits next door to Jervis Bay, beloved for its white sandy beaches, pristine native bushland and the humpback whales that swim close to the shore between May and November.
In the course of a day you could watch stingrays swim beneath your paddleboard, go on an Aboriginal bush tucker tour, spot wallabies and kangaroos in the wild, barbecue beneath tall river red gums and unwind on a snow-white beach.
1. St Georges Basin
This 40-square-kilometre body of water is an inland lake or intermediate estuary fed by creeks.
Whatever you want to call it, St Georges Basin is a delight, with swathes of eucalypt and swamp oak on its shore.
There are little beaches in parks, and a string of small holiday communities on the northern shoreline, while much of the southern and eastern shore is conserved by Booderee National Park.
On the water you can rent a boat, kayak or paddleboard and head off in search of quiet beaches, coves and creeks.
Recreational fishing is also a big deal at St Georges Basin, which is renowned for its monster dusky flathead, along with a ton of other estuary sportfish.
2. Booderee National Park
Starting on the east shore of St Geroges Basin and pushing into the Tasman Sea on the Bherwerre Peninsula is one of most beautiful national parks in the country.
Going by Australia’s high standards, this is saying something.
Awaiting you are powder white beaches with glimmering turquoise waters, lofty headlands for whale watching and beautiful native bushland home to eye-popping wildlife.
You can visit to learn about the land’s deep Koori Aboriginal culture, track down colonial ruins, or go birdwatching, fishing, hiking, or just lie back on a perfect beach.
The park’s amazing diversity is showcased at Booderee Botanic Gardens, the only Aboriginal-owned botanic gardens in Australia, and a place to find out about bush tucker, medicinal plants and the Koori people’s long connection with the area.
3. Hyams Beach
Heading east from the basin, the first Tasman Sea beach that you’ll get to just happens to be one of the best in the entire country.
Hyams Beach is celebrated far and wide for the brilliance of its powdery white sands, the grains of which are made up of pure quartz.
Added to that, the sand is unusually fine, to the point where it squeaks when you walk on it.
Being nestled safely in Jervis Bay helps keep the surf relatively calm, which gives the turquoise waters a rare clarity, so remember to bring some snorkelling gear.
For all its rare splendour Hyams Beach is attached to a small and undeveloped seaside community, and Shoalhaven council is brainstorming ideas to help preserve the beach in the face of ever-growing visitor numbers.
4. Moona Moona Creek
This tidal creek meanders through Jervis Bay National Park before reaching the Tasman Sea at the cute town of Huskisson.
Flanking the mouth are two sublime white sandy beaches, Huskisson Beach (aka Moona Moona Beach) to the north and Sailors Grave beach to the south.
At high tide the creek is a paradise for stand-up paddleboarding, when you can glide over the crystalline waters, observing shoals of fish and stingrays in perfect detail.
Protected by sandbars, the lagoon-like inlet is a perfectly safe place to swim, with waters resembling a swimming pool.
Moona Moona Park just next to the bridge and in view of the creek’s mouth has a small sandy beach, and shaded grassy areas.
The bridge becomes an unofficial diving platform for local kids when the tide is up, contradicting the “no diving” signs”
5. Corramy Regional Park
Go west of St Georges Basin, the town, and you’ll soon find yourself in some 300 hectares of blissful bushland where the Wandandian Creek flows into the estuary.
A lot of Corramy Regional Park is under a mantle of swamp oak (casuarina) forest, interspersed with a variety of eucalypts like red gums.
You can get away from it all at the Wandandian Creek picnic area, where you can contemplate the lazy waters and observe the profuse birdlife.
You may just spot yellow-bellied gliders and glossy black cockatoos, known to frequent these woods.
If you can muster the energy there are walking tracks to follow, like the Delta Track, hugging the creek’s foreshore for 1.5 km.
6. Jervis Bay Maritime Museum
Barely ten minutes from St Georges Basin at Huskisson you can immerse yourself in Jervis Bay’s rich maritime past.
There’s plenty of information here about the area’s Aboriginal population, their lifestyle and customs across thousands of years of pre-European history, and the ups and downs through post-colonial marginalisation and the Aboriginal land rights movement.
There are fascinating accounts and artefacts from the many shipwrecks on the perilous South Coast, and you’ll get the inside track on the abandoned 19th-century lighthouse at Cape St George.
The undoubted star of the show is the Lady Denman ferry, built in 1911 just a few short steps from the maritime museum, and now being restored to its 1960s heyday as part of the Sydney Harbour’s ferry fleet.
7. Paradise Beach Reserve
At Sanctuary Point there’s a nub of land sticking out into St Georges Basin.
This is home to a quiet residential neighbourhood sprinkled with holiday accommodation and amenities like parks, restaurants and the Jervis Bay Golf Club.
On the west side of Sanctuary Point, tracing a bay, lies one of the best parks on St Georges Basin.
For one thing, Paradise Beach Reserve faces west for knockout views from the walking track at sunset.
There’s a children’s playground, barbecue and picnic facilities in the shade, toilets and outdoor gym equipment for grown-ups.
The Basin’s calm waters, combined with the fact that the bay stays shallow for a long distance, makes this an ideal place for little ones to make a splash.
8. Bikes at the Basin
There’s a newly mapped out network of cycling tracks extending all the way from Sanctuary Point to the beaches of Jervis Bay.
So you couldn’t pick a better time to discover St Georges Basin, the tranquil bushland behind and the majesty of the Shoalhaven coast on two wheels.
Bikes at the Basin is right in Sanctuary Point and, as well as selling new bikes and making repairs, has a choice of models for adults and children to rent.
From here you can coast along quiet local roads, or find out where one of the off-road tracks will take you.
9. Sussex Inlet Marine Centre
Wriggling between the south side of St Georges Basin and the Tasman Sea coast is the Sussex Inlet, with a charming island township on its west bank.
Now, if you’re planning any kind of water activity on St Georges Basin, the Sussex Inlet Marine Centre is a good shout.
You hire from a range of 12 motor boats (no license needed), as well as fishing tackle and bait, canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
All motor boats come with petrol, lifejackets and oars, and you can rent a canopy for a small extra fee.
For fun on land, the centre also rents out bikes and scooters.
10. Cave Beach
This place of extraordinary natural beauty can be found at Booderee National Park, facing the Tasman Sea.
Cave Beach, so-called because of the cavities in the rocks at the west end, is a beloved surf beach on a very shallow gradient, which leaves an enormous spread of ankle-high water to stroll in.
You’ll see kangaroos and wallabies in the wild, hopping down to the beachfront, and if you’d like to stay overnight you can make the most of one of Australia’s best secluded beach camping areas.
This is set among coastal tea trees and endowed with wood and gas barbecues, toilets, fresh water and showers.
11. Whale Watching
From mid-May to mid-November, humpback whales can be sighted at Jervis Bay on an epic migration.
They depart their feeding grounds in Antarctic Waters for warmer, tropical climes to mate and calve (humpbacks gestate for 11 months), before making the return journey with their newborns.
There are plenty of locations just east of St Geoges Basin where you can scan the seas with a pair of binoculars for a breaching whale, or misty spray from a blowhole.
Humpbacks are inquisitive and famously acrobatic despite their frames (up to 30 tons), so there’s a high likelihood of an unforgettable encounter if you opt for a cruise.
On the tour platform GetYourGuide.com, the 2-Hour Whale Watching Cruise entails an in-depth background on this species and Jervis Bay.
You’ll also see crystal clear blue water, the 100-metre cliffs at Point Perpendicular and some of the whitest sands you’ll ever lay eyes on.
12. Husky Ferry
Another of the great Jervis Bay experiences is to catch this weekend ferry service crossing Currambene Creek just before it enters the bay.
The service shuttles between Huskisson Wharf on the south side and Myola to the north, departing at quarter to the hour from Huskisson and on the hour from Myola.
With no bridge on the creek’s lower reaches, the ferry helps you avoid what would otherwise be a lengthy drive.
But it’s also a fabulous way to savour Jervis Bay’s scenery, and you stand a high chance of spotting dolphins or seals.
The operator also arranges private charters and a number of cruises, including the Sunset Cruise with commentary and BYO wine and cheese.
13. Valhalla Horse Riding
This local business has led horseback rides into the peaceful bush of the Shoalhaven interior for more than 30 years.
This stud for Appaloosas is embedded in over 100 acres of picturesque native bushland on the Currambene Creek and has more than 30 horses to suit all levels of skill and experience.
A variety of packages is available, but for first-timers the best bet is the 1-hour ride, in the company of a friendly and experienced guide.
If you’re in the area with smaller members of the clan there are led pony rides that children are sure to love.
14. Tomerong Markets
Check the calendar, because if you’re in the area on the third Saturday of the month you could mosey over to Tomerong for a lively community market.
This takes place at the Tomerong School of Arts Hall but also spills over to the nearby Union Church yard.
On an average day there will be 50+ stalls trading in anything from seasonal fruit and vegetables, to delicious food made on the spot, gourmet coffee, flowers, plants and all manner of arts and crafts and upcycled goods.
15. Cape St George Lighthouse
Visiting Booderee National Park you can make the trip to this ruined lighthouse on cliffs near the southern entrance to Jervis Bay.
The light was built from Sydney sandstone in 1860 and in the 1890s was replaced over at Point Perpendicular.
The tower was torn down in the early 20th century to avoid confusion during the day, and now the heritage-listed ruins are labelled with interpretive signs shedding light on the building’s past and the life of its keepers.
To say the Cape St George Lighthouse has a sad story is an understatement: Between 1867 and 1887 five children of lighthouse keepers died here, from causes as varied as illness, a cliff fall, a horse kick and accidental gunshot.
And in 1895, one keeper’s assistant was dragged away by sharks while fishing.
June to July and September to November you can watch the humpback whales from the cliff on their migration.