With schoolies celebrations set to officially kick off on Saturday, November 27, surf lifesavers are again issuing a warning to those looking to visit the beach as part of the celebrations; alcohol, drugs and the ocean do not mix.
The culmination of 13 years of study often results in school leavers heading to holiday hotspots across the state for a period of festivities, with Byron Bay and surrounding areas in the far north expected to be a popular destination once more.
Preparations are well underway by the area’s lifesavers and lifeguards in anticipation of the expected surge of visitors set to descend on the town.
“Schoolies officially starts in Byron today (Saturday) and will go til December 11 – it’s a two week period which often results in numerous aquatic and coastal incidents involving a high number of partying teens who come to town,” said Far North Coast Duty Officer, Jimmy Keough.
“Basically we are worried we’re about to get smashed up here and want to put a bit of a warning out to those teenagers – take care at the beach.”
Emergency services on the state’s Far North Coast are prepared for all possible scenarios, having even trained for the possibility that a COVID-19 outbreak was to take hold. Widespread flooding risks throughout NSW are also playing on the minds of emergency responders and could add an extra hazard to post-HSC celebrations.
It’s part of an all-encompassing safety program which will serve to ensure schoolies visitors, as well as the general public, are in safe hands.
“All emergency services are ready,” Jimmy continued.
“It’s really the beginning of our busy season as schoolies flows on into the Christmas and New Year period which also sees a lot of people visiting.”
Byron Bay’s Main Beach is patrolled by Lifeguards from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. All local surf clubs will be patrolling over the weekends.
Additionally, the SLS Far North Coast Branch has increased surveillance for the entire duration of the festivities. That means jet skis, support operations vehicles and duty officers are on stand-by to respond to emergencies if required.
The impact of Schoolies week also extends down the coast to towns including Port Macquarie, Forster, South West Rocks and Batemans Bay which have all experienced a surge in popularity with schoolies in recent years.
The message, Jimmy says, is a simple one.
“Our main message is to avoid remote beaches and look after your mates,” he said.
“Social media can encourage a lot of people to want to get to the remote beaches that celebrities feature in their selfies, but those beaches can be dangerous and, at times, hard to access for our first responders.
“We encourage everyone to swim at the patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags.”
SCHOOLIES SAFETY CHECKLIST
- Only swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
- Don’t swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Never swim at night
- Ask a surf lifesaver or lifeguard for advice
- Look after your mates, and know where your group is while in the water
- Call triple-zero (000) to report an in-water emergency
Saturday 27 November 2021