More and more schoolies are choosing to party at Mid North Coast beaches and the lifesaving community is issuing a warning to those looking to cool off during the celebrations – alcohol and the ocean are a dangerous combination.
While many schoolies will be travelling to traditional tourist destinations in Northern NSW and Southern Queensland, there has been a trend in recent years for school leavers to head to smaller seaside towns.
Local beaches including those at Port Macquarie, Forster and South West Rocks are becoming increasingly popular with sea, sun, and fun sure to be an important part of the festivities which marks the end of 13 years of study.
Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) Northern NSW coordinator Scott McCartney said holidaying students should make the most of their time off, but has urged all schoolies to watch out for each other while enjoying all the beach has to offer.
“There are many wonderful beaches across NSW, and they are great places to relax, but it is crucial for everyone to be aware of the importance of surf safety.
“Please take the time to familiarise yourself with local conditions, always swim between the flags during patrolled hours, ask lifeguards or lifesavers for advice and avoid the temptation of swimming after consuming alcohol or swimming at night,” Mr McCartney said.
To our north, both Byron Bay and Tweed Valley Councils have taken a pro-active stance on beach safety ahead of the summer season with lifeguards stationed on Main Beach Byron Bay and Kingscliff Main Beach during the week.
This five-day-a-week service complements the weekend patrol hours, ensuring that these two beaches will have total coverage. Schoolies in the area are strongly encouraged to swim at either of those two locations and not in unpatrolled locations where situations can escalate quickly especially if the environment is unfamiliar.
Additionally the Far North Coast Branch of Surf Life Saving has activated their support operations team for the entire duration of the festivities. That means jet skis, four-wheel-drives and duty officers are available to respond to emergencies if required.
NSW Lifesaving Manager Matt du Plessis hopes that the key message of “watching out for your mates” will get through to all teenagers embarking on schoolies.
“While our lifesavers and lifeguards are all extremely well-trained, it is important for everyone to know the dangers and to watch out for your friends while enjoying the water.
“We want people to have a good time and to make sensible decisions around their own and others safety in the water,” he said.
Lifesavers and lifeguards will be out in force to reiterate the importance of surf safety throughout the celebrations, and should be the first point of call for anyone experiencing any difficulties while on the beach