Big crowds, rough surf at busy beaches
CLARENCE Valley beaches have been teeming with people since Boxing Day and Clarence Valley Life Guard Supervisor Greg Wyllie believes the area will break crowd records this year.
"Beach conditions have been fun, entertaining and also very tiring and trying on the lifeguards as we've had an outgoing tide from when we open the beach in the morning,” Mr Wyllie said.
"They can produce circumstances that are quite challenging,” he said.
"Right now the largest crowds we get are on Boxing Day and that runs through to January 10.”
Despite the conditions, Mr Wyllie said apart from the death of Geoffrey Blackadder at Wooli on Monday, there had been only a few rescues at Clarence Valley beaches.
"Generally speaking there have been rescues on other beaches,” he said.
"Main beach, it's quite a small beach and it has a westerly swell and with the outgoing tide, there have been a few rescues.
"Fortunately Pippis has been progressing very well and there is nothing to report from there.”
He added there had been no rescues at Iluka or Brooms Head beaches.
"There have been rescues on other Clarence beaches and lifeguards have responded rapidly and efficiently and the safety of the beaches is being maintained to a high standard,” he said.
A swell coming from the east had hit Clarence Valley beaches, making the water more turbulent, Mr Wyllie said.
"It's not every year when we get a big crowd we get an easterly swell and the high tide mark at 9am,” he said.
Mr Wyllie said the tragedies across NSW over the Christmas break included the death of Mr Blackadder on Wooli Beach about 1pm on Boxing Day.
"At around about 1pm (on Boxing Day) the lifeguard became aware of several people in a flash rip to the northern end of the flags. They responded immediately...” he said.
He said lifeguards brought the unconscious man to the beach and started CPR immediately.
"The swimmers were between the flags initially but when this rip caught them... the more senior gentleman went to their assistance and that's when the problem escalated,” he said.
Mr Wyllie said the two lifeguards should be commended for how they handled the situation.