A 10-year-old boy was washed from the north wall of the Evans River mouth and pulled 20m out to sea before being washed back in and rescued.
The boy and a friend were playing in the storm-swell waves crashing onto the wall, letting the spray crash over them, when a big wave washed the 10-year-old into the river, an eyewitness to the event said.
His friend threw him and a bucket while a local fisherman threw him an Angel Ring with fishing line attached to it.
Caught in a strong outgoing tide the boy was pulled about beyond the end of the wall, before the current brought him back toward's the wall's seaward side, where he could be hauled to safety.
Surf Life Saving Far North Coast duty officer Jimmy Keogh said the boy could consider himself lucky.
"The incident could have been tragic," he said.
Despite the heavy seas brought by ex-tropical cyclone Marcia and a coinciding king tide, the Evans Head incident was the only major incident up and down the coast Mr Keogh said.
All of the region's beaches were closed over the weekend due to increasing swells brought on by the cyclone, as well as king tides.
Mr Keogh said people should stay out of the ocean until the seas settled, and should also be wary of debris washed out to sea by swollen rivers.