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To cap off an extremely challenging year, 2021 will end with a major contrast of weather and surf conditions across the NSW coast.

New Years is a high-risk period for coastal incidents and drownings and Surf Life Saving NSW is reminding people to heed safety warnings around alcohol and swimming or boating, and swimming at unpatrolled locations, where the vast bulk of tragedies occur this time of year.

With warm and sunny weather predicted over the coming days and outdoor, socially distanced activities encouraged in the current COVID-19 climate, Surf Life Saving NSW expects to see large numbers visiting the coastline into the weekend.

As capacity limits have once again been enforced on hospitality venues, many planned New Years Eve and New Years Day gatherings have been severely impacted, forcing patrons to abandon their plans and create their own.

“The New Year period has always been one of the busiest on our beaches, and with many people having to make significant changes to their plans, we are preparing for large crowds along the coastline,” said Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Lifesaving, Joel Wiseman.

While the north of the state is experiencing showers and cooler conditions for the next few days, the south coast will be the focus, with hot, dry conditions due to a low intensity heatwave developing north from the Victorian border. Beaches are busier than usual on the Far South Coast with a big influx of holiday-makers, particularly from Victoria.

By contrast, a tropical low over Queensland may generate large waves and hazardous surf conditions from Sunday for the north of the state, coinciding with very high tides and a possible east coast low. This increases the risk significantly for incidents to occur along the coast and volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards are on high alert, particularly in party hotspots like Byron Bay.

The Far North Coast Support Operations team will be fully operational during the New Year festivities conducting surveillance patrols along the coast and assisting other emergency services.

“We are asking everyone not to enter the water over New Years if the conditions develop as predicted. Large swell and instability brought about by a developing east coast low will make conditions potentially treacherous,” said Far North Coast Emergency Coordinator Jimmy Keough.

Australian Lifeguard Service personnel will be on duty at Byron Bay for extended hours, patrolling through to the early hours of Saturday morning to keep revellers safe.

“It’s the uncertain conditions which presents difficulties for our lifesavers in terms of how to prepare for what might happen,” said Joel Wiseman.

“There’s pent up desire to get out and enjoy the outdoors after a year of lockdowns and many people are moving around the state and visiting coastal holiday spots that they may not be familiar with. It’s a high risk time and we implore everyone to heed surf safety advice and amend their activities to suit the conditions.”


  • Always swim between the red and yellow patrol flags, for your nearest patrolled beach check the BeachSafe app or website
  • Read the safety signs for information about the beach and ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for safety information
  • Always swim with someone else so you can look out for each other, and always supervise children around the water
  • Never swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If you need help in the water, stay calm and attract attention by raising one arm
  • In an emergency, dial Triple Zero

For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.

Friday 31 December 2021