Wollongong City Council patrols 17 beaches, 6 days a week and there are volunteer lifeguards from Surf Lifesaving Australia patrolling on Sundays.
At the beach, conditions can change very quickly. The water might be calm when you first arrive, but turn unsafe in no time. When you’re at the beach, it’s important to keep these things in mind:
- Do not swim alone
- If there are no flags up, don’t go in the water
- Only swim at patrolled beaches
- Swim between the red and yellow flags
- If you get in to trouble, stay calm and raise your arm
- Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap
It's also important to:
- Follow the advice of Lifeguards and Lifesavers
- Only swim at patrolled locations
- Be realistic about your own ability to respond to changing surf conditions.
There have also been some changes to beach signs, which bring the flags in line with the Australian Standards for Water Safety signange.
The key changes are:
- Black/white quartered flags to replace the blue flags
- A yellow flag that indicates a hazardous condition
- A additional red flag to indicate the beach is closed.
Beach Patrol Hours
- Peak 2011-2012: 17 December - 27 January
- High 2012: 28 January - 23 March
- Shoulder 2012: 24 March - 20 April
For a full list of beach patrol hours, please see the document below:
Beach Patrol Hours
Beach Conditions and Wave Types
Here are a few different types of waves to help you identify what’s what.
If you’ve ever been dumped by a wave, you’ll know this type. It breaks with force and can cause injury as the swimmer is thrown on the sea floor.
These are the safest waves swimmers, body surfers and board riders.
These are the waves that can knock you off your feet unexpectedly. They often don’t break before they hit the shore and can feel like a strong surge.
Where there are breaking waves, you can find rips and currents. They can be identified by:
- Looking for darker, discoloured water with debris moving out to sea.
- A rippled effect on the water’s surface, while all around it is calm
- Waves breaking larger, and further out to sea on both sides
If you’re not sure about rips, ask the lifeguard on duty.
What to do if you get caught in a rip
- If you’re on a board, stay with it.
- If you’re a good swimmer, paddle with the board or swim at right angles to the direction of the rip towards the breaking waves. The waves should wash you back to shore.
- If you’re an inexperienced swimmer, ride the rip out from the beach, paddle the board – or swim – parallel to the beach toward the breaking waves. They should wash you back to shore.
- Don’t swim against the rip – even you’re a good swimmer.
- Stay calm and raise your arm for help.
Alcohol and Swimming
Just like drinking and driving, alcohol and swimming is a dangerous combination. Your judgment is impaired, you get tired easily, you take more risks and your body temperature can drop more rapidly. Plus, if a person affected by alcohol gets into difficulties, they can vomit and choke. It’s not worth the risk. Don’t mix alcohol with swimming.
Be Sun Smart
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer worldwide. Swimmers should always protect themselves against skin cancer. The Cancer Council recommends:
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun’s rays between 10am and 3pm.
- Wear sun protect clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible, is made from close-weave material like cotton or linen, or lycra.
- Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen. Put it on clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours.
- Slap on a hat. Makre you’re it’s a broad-brimmed, legionnaire or bucket-style hat that gives good protection for the fact, nose, neck and ears.
- Seek shade.
- Slide on some sunglasses. Choose close-fitting wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067.