Dangerous beaches of NSW

SURF Life Saving Queensland is calling on all Queenslanders to get behind the red and yellow army of volunteer surf lifesavers for this year’s Surf Safe Appeal.
SURF Life Saving Queensland is calling on all Queenslanders to get behind the red and yellow army of volunteer surf lifesavers for this year’s Surf Safe Appeal.

TWO Byron Shire Council beaches have been dumped from the notorious top five local government most dangerous beach list in NSW.

Despite a dismal record in the past, the region this year has been spared the title thanks to fewer drownings in the area.

Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads missed out on the top five with beaches in the Waverley, Wollongong, Wyong, Coffs Harbour and Randwick council regions now the worst in the state.

At Lennox Head, a beach that is more dangerous than average with a six out of 10 rating by Surf Life Saving Australia, there have been no drownings in the past year thanks to a strong focus on preventative actions.

Lennox Head-Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club president Wayne Jones said the beach was ‘regarded as potentially dangerous’.

“This is because the beach is so open, and wave types and conditions can change rapidly,” he said.

Mr Jones said the coastline was ‘quite dangerous with a ‘number of deaths over the past few years’, but attributed many of the drownings, rescues or preventative actions to tourists.

“The tourist population is one factor, because there are some fairly prominent tourist spots here,” he said.

“One problem is tourists not taking advice. They need to be conscious of water safety.”

The club’s patrol captain and senior surfboat captain, Chris Fabri, reiterated the issues with tourists and unfamiliar swimming conditions.

“We have a transient crowd, and a lot of the people from overseas just aren’t used to waves,” he said.

“My experience with most of the people who get into trouble are tourists that just don’t know.”

Despite drownings across the state increasing from 33 to 46 this year, Mr Jones said Lennox Head had been ‘no worse this year’.

“We have 10 patrol groups made up of a lot of qualified and experienced people who are well-trained to use the rescue gear,” he said.

Mr Jones said there were a few main groups patrols kept a close eye on – inexperienced swimmers, ‘classic’ tourists, the very young and very old, and those who ‘tend not to swim between the flags’.

“It’s important to identify them, and we feel that if we become approachable, they will ask us questions, and that stops some of the trouble,” he said.

Not swimming between the flags was one of the best ways to get yourself into trouble according to Mr Jones.

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