Eight dead, 74 injured, 109 saved in shocker summer on beach

EIGHT drowning deaths on the Far North Coast over the summer season was the worst result across the state and could be attributed to swimming outside patrolled hours and flagged areas.

The numbers have been tallied after volunteer Surf Life Savers have dropped the flags on a season that began in September last year and ran till last Sunday.

The Central Coast and the Greater Sydney area each recorded six drowning deaths over the period.

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Across the state there were 29 coastal drownings since the start of July which is below the 10-year-average for the second year in a row.

The eight drownings for the stretch of coast between Yamba and Tweed Heads is not necessarily because of particularly rough and dangerous swimming conditions, Scotty McCartney North NSW lifeguard coordinator said.

It was more likely the result of ever increasing numbers of beach goers, and the rise in tourists who are often inexperienced beach goers, he said.

"All the drownings this season happened outside the flags on unpatrolled beach areas, or outside patrolled hours," he said.

There has been a big push to raise the awareness of beachgoers across all councils in the region over the last five years, especially among tourists unfamiliar with local conditions he said.

"It is such a beautiful area that as soon as tourists get here they make a beeline for the beach," he said.

More information in backpacker hostels and resorts would hopefully see more tourists making their way to patrolled swimming areas Mr Mc Cartney said.

At this stage main beach at Byron Bay is the only swimming area that will have regular surf life saving patrols from now until next spring.

SLS Volunteer Action in NSW

  • Far North Coast: Drownings 8, Rescues 109, Ambulances 74.
  • Hunter: Drownings 2, Rescues 391, Ambulances 68.
  • Central Coast: Drownings 6, Rescues 1749, Ambulances 72
  • Sydney: Drownings 6, Rescues 2580, Ambulances 255.

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