Only 30 minutes south of Wollongong, there is a beautiful, secluded spot where the estuary of the Minnamurra River meets the ocean.
Park along Charles Avenue and access the river mouth via the boat ramp at James Oates Reserve where you'll find a nicely-shaded park with toilets, picnic tables and trees to climb.
If you are feeling brave, you can swim across the tidal mouth to get to 'Mystics' Beach - a great little surf spot where you don't have to fight anyone for waves. Named by a bunch of local surfers who witnessed the other-worldly coastal conditions that sometimes occur here, Mystics Beach is stunning.
The river itself is perfect for kayaking and you can spend a couple of hours paddling up through the mangroves towards the picturesque Killalea State Park if that's your gig.
If you are not brave - like me - grab a really decent coffee from Minnamurra General Store & Cafe and dip your feet in the fresh clean water of the river instead.
There's even the added bonus of a gazillion year old geological feature (a volcanic outcrop known as Stack Island) for you to rest your gaze upon. And all for free...
Photos courtesy of https://www.visitnsw.com/