Alcohol, drugs, and the ocean do not mix any day of the year, but with schoolies celebrations set to officially kick off on Saturday 26 November, surf lifesavers are reaffirming the message to those looking to visit the beach as part of the celebrations.

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.

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, even after hours, if required.

“All emergency services are ready,” Far North Coast Duty Officer, Jimmy Keough said.

“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.

“This two-week period often results in numerous aquatic and coastal incidents involving a high number of partying teens who come to town.

“Basically, we just want them to be careful and smart.”

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 and some with extended hours.

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 is a simple one.

“Our main message, as it is each and every year, 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

Wednesday 23 November 2022