Surfing the NSW South Coast

Surfing ...

The NSW South Coast can claim some of the world's best beaches. For many Aussies, the sport is as much a way of life as it is a great way to take time-out, get some exercise and soak up the scenery.


The sport was introduced to Australia in 1914 with a demonstration by Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku at Freshwater in Sydney, but it was not until the 1950s that the activity became widely popular. Today an estimated 1.4 million Australians use a surfcraft of some kind each year. The industry, which began with the manufacture of boards, `togs' and `wetties' in the 1960's, is now worth $400 million annually.

Thousands turn up to watch professional events, which began in the early 70's with the Bells Beach Classic [now called the Rip Curl Pro Classic]. In Australia. the sport is for anyone and everyone, from 60 year old veterans riding malibu's, to young kids with short boards, frontier surfers looking for remote breaks in impossible places and, of course, the long list of locally bred world champions, such as Peter Drouyn, Nat Young, Midget Farrelly and Wayne `Rabbit' Bartholomew, who helped make Australia one of the great surfing nations.

The South Coast has some of the most unspoilt, uncrowded spots on Australia's East coast.

An abundance of beaches and headlands provide a wide variety of beach breaks and reef breaks.

Local Knowledge:

I'm not a 'surfer', but here's what my nephew, Micka [who definitely is] has to say about it ...

'I never thought there would be a time when I was lost for words on anything, let alone surfing. Certainly anyone who knows me would tell you the same. I find though, when describing the south coast it's not so much a loss of words as it is where I should start. If you've surfed much on the NSW south coast you will know what I mean.

Options.As you head out from Wollongong on Highway 1 you don't get much view of the coastline. There's no procession of panelvans driving slowly trying to get a peek of the surf to see if it's on or not. She's country highway here, mate. Just a line of goods trucks and commuters most days, all trying to get where they are going, unaware as they head south that all they would have to do to escape their daily grind is use the left indicator at any one of the many, many turns.There are about a thousand places you can pull up the car and have a quick look, and about a million more that require a sense of adventure, a good pair of walking shoes, and possibly the largest pair of testicles you have.

On this coast you will find every type of wave you could ever wish for. There's wide point breaks that would appeal to the 9 foot plus crowd. Plenty of fun beach breaks and reef breaks for all to enjoy and the south coast also has it's fair share of exposed reef breaks that generate some of the heaviest waves you'll ever ride. If you dare.

I'm not going to name names here for a few reasons, the main one being that it seems there's always more than one for each break. As the years go past different people from different areas have come here looking for waves and named spots in out-of-the-way places, meaning people from Sydney will call one spot a different name than people from the south coast, or people from further south. The other reason is that there are too damn many. It would take more than my word alotment.

Grab a map of the area and take a look, or go to whereis.com, start in Wollongong and scroll south. Or have a look at the area you're taking the family too. I guarantee that there's gold just around the point, or the next beach over, or in many cases - right out front. The possibilities are there. Alot of the time you can find something that's converting the current swell within 1/2 hour of travel by car. In most cases less.

The places that would seem to generate the best waves are the ones with a southern aspect. If you look at the points you may pick up on some names of areas on their southern sides, one in particular would have to be Wreck bay, know as the home of aussie pipe.I knew of a young bloke who once walked from Tathra to Noosa to visit his brother, all he had was his board and a fishing rod. He's possibly the only person on this planet who's seen that much of the south coast, and I will stress he was alone most of the time. There's alot of nothing around on alot of the south coast, as you explore you'll notice exposed wind swept points that look as barren as the waves peeling beneath them. As you kick out of a wave you'll suddenly realize the only other person out is your mate, and the only car on the point is yours.

Surfing happens differently when this is the norm. Trips to overseas destinations have seen me surfing next to more people from Australia than most of my regular haunts down south. Generally speaking the crowd situation is non-existent and the locals are friendly. Paddle out and say G'day and you might just make a friend for life'.

A range of surf schools and shops can be found along the South Coast.
Novices should take advantage of the knowledge of local instructors and sign up for lessons ahead of going out.

If you're experienced, but unfamiliar with an area, talk to the locals and get some advice on conditions. Go out with a mate and always check the weather.

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The main regions , traveling from North to South are:

Illawarra

Kiama

Shellharbour

Shoalhaven

Eurobodalla Nature Coast

Sapphire Coast

Eurobodalla Nature Coast

The best places to check out on the Eurobodalla Coast are 'Pink Rocks', Broulee Island, North Durras, Moruya Heads and Bawley Point many beach breaks such as Congo, Moruya Break wall, McKenzies Beach, Tomakin River Mouth, Dalmeny, Potato Point and also South Broulee provide great beach breaks that all offer quality waves that are quite consistent and open to a variety of wind and swell conditions.

As just one example, over the last 15 years, Broulee and surrounds have produced some quality Professinoals and many more 'grommets' working on the opportunity for a great lifestyle.

  • Broulee Island ( Pink Rocks)-SE to NE swell -SW Wind
  • Tomakin River Mouth – NE-E swell-NW to SW wind
  • Moruya Break Wall-NE-SE
  • McKenzies Beach-E-SE swell-NE-SW wind
  • Congo Beach-E-NE Swell-SW wind
  • Potato Point-SE swell-SW wind
  • Dalmeny-NE to SE swell-NW-SW wind
  • Bega Valley

Sapphire Coast

Bermagui

  • Beares Beach via Scenic Drive
  • Camel Rock Beach, north of Merimbula is excellent. 
  • Mooreheads Beach, Wapengo St on the northern side of the harbour is also excellent .
  • Haywards Beach – enter from southern or northern branches of the old highway (no through road) is regarded as 'good'.
  • Cuttagee Beach, south of Bermagui is also  is regarded as 'good' and it 'doesn't get crowded'. 

Merimbula

It's been said that 'The best surf in Merimbula is at either Shore Point Beach or the bar'. I'm not sure if that's true but it might be a good place to check out first when you arrive in town.

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Inaugural Broulee Bay to Breakers Ocean Swim 
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