Warning to stay alert on the beach ahead of forecasted rainy swim season

SANDON Point, Coledale and Bellambi have an extra hour of beach patrols from Monday to Saturday to give swimmers more time for a dip during summer.

Wollongong City Council’s lifeguards are stationed at 17 beaches between Stanwell Park and Windang on week days and Saturdays, while Surf Life Saving volunteers patrol on Saturdays and Sundays (including public holidays).

Council’s director of community services Kerry Hunt has urged the community to stay alert ahead of a forecasted rainy season.

“Bureau of Meteorology has advised that we’re expecting above average rainfall this summer with La Nina being established,” Ms Hunt said.

“So, we’re asking the community to be vigilant as this weather may still provide dangerous swim conditions.

“Our lifeguards will still be on the sand to determine if it’s safe to get into the water, but it’s vital to understand that if we have not put the red and yellow flags up it means no swimming at all.

“On the welcomed days where the sun is out, please remember to swim between the red and yellow flags during patrol hours, as our lifeguards have determined that these are the safest spots to swim. If you’re unsure about the water, its conditions or the beach rules, speak to one of our lifeguards who are happy to provide advice.”

Although lifeguards are on hand to help, Ms Hunt is asking swimmers to read up on safety and rules before visiting one of the patrolled beaches. This includes getting familiar with Beachwatch, which regularly monitors water quality at local beaches and updates pollution forecasts daily.

Ms Hunt said its important people are aware of all the potential dangers of swimming at our beaches and that includes inspecting the water before entering.

“Water run off after significant rainfall can contribute to poor water quality. In these circumstances, it’s best to check out the conditions on Beachwatch and, perhaps skip the swim for that day or head to an alternate location,” she said.

“The weather forecast means it will feel like a different summer but the message to look after yourself at our beaches remain the same. Our lifeguards will try their best to help you in the water but it’s also up to you to follow the beach rules. Please don’t risk your life and be beach safe.”

Visit Council’s website to find out more information including beach safety tips, information on rip currents, and translated resources.

Council is also added an extra hour at four of its 17 patrolled beaches on Saturday December 18, so beachgoers can swim later in the day.

The extend hours may be extended during this summer season. Ms Hunt said this summer was anticipated to be a busy one on Council’s 17 patrolled beaches and encouraged people to explore a new beach if their usual one was particularly busy.

“Our advice is to either enjoy an early swim, or one later in the day before the flags go down when it’s likely to be less busy. Keeping an eye on the LiveTraffic website can be helpful in terms of understanding where there might be more people and traffic congestion,” she said.

“We’re also asking people to remain COVID-safe. While masks do not necessarily need to be worn, people can choose to keep them on when out and about. Please maintain social distancing habits and if you’re feeling unwell, go and get a COVID test and stay at home. Please don’t go for a swim and put others in our community at risk.”

From Saturday December 18, Coledale, Sandon Point and Bellambi added an extra hour for patrols and are open for a swim from 10am to 6pm (weather permitting).

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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