Surfable but onshore waves continue with stronger pulses ahead

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 18th Jan)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • Weak tradewinds  in the Coral Sea  with small E'ly tradewind swell Tues, bigger Wed/Thurs
  • Late S change for the MNC Thurs with S-SE winds becoming established Fri across the region
  • Better quality E swell pulse Fri, easing through Sat
  • Late kick in S swell likely for the MNC Thurs, extending into Far North NSW and SEQLD Fri before easing
  • Fun E swell likely from Tues next week as monsoonal low drifts near New Caledonia, stay tuned for updates


Nothing exciting to report since Mon, with small scrappy E swell to 2ft yesterday under onshore E’ly winds. A minor S swell signal reached Coffs wth some 2-3ft sets but across the rest of the region we’ve seen a small increase in scrappy E swell to 2-3ft under onshore winds. Nothing incredible but surfable across most spots with best shaped waves on the Points. 

Surfable on the Points but scrappy under a straight E'ly flow

This week (Jan 18-20)

Weak high pressure sits in the Tasman now, maintaining an E to NE flow across the region as a trough and front approach from the W and SW. The trough will bring a robust S’ly change to the NSW Coast through Thurs, extending up into the sub-tropics during Fri. S’ly winds and swell quickly build in the wake of the trough. The Monsoon trough remains active but low-pressure systems budding off the trough line slide away to the SE in the absence of a strong supporting high, reducing surf potential until a system stalls near New Caledonia over the weekend/early next week.

In the short run and we’ll see winds tend E/NE-NE through tomorrow, with light winds inshore early unlikely to clean up the prevailing onshore sea state. More scrappy 2-3ft E swell is expected through the morning with a boost in size through the a’noon as longer range tradewind swell fill in with sets to 3-4ft expected. A S’ly change as a trough makes it’s way up the coast should nose into Coffs late in the day before dark, possibly stalling about the Far North Coast through the night and early Fri morning.

S-SE winds will become established Fri as the trough lingers about the North Coast, likely providing a window of lighter SW winds south of the border. E swell holds in the 3-4ft range with a short range S-SSE swell filling in during the day to 3ft. Expect some fun peelers on the Points with scrappy, onshore options at more exposed spots.

This weekend (Jan21-22)

The remnants of Thursday’s trough linger off the North Coast and with a reinforcing high sliding into the Tasman that will maintain a moderate SE-E flow over the weekend. There will be a mix of swells Sat, enough to generate around 3-4ft of size at most locations. Expect some short period SSE-SE swell, inconsistent mid period E swell to 3-4ft and a smattering of short period ESE-E swell from winds through the Northern Tasman. Of course all of this will be affected by light/mod onshore winds so don’t expect much in the way of quality. Light morning winds will offer the cleanest conditions.

Swell sources dry up a notch into Sunday so we’re looking at small surf around 2-3ft across the region of mixed quality, mostly marred by onshore winds, although these should back down Sunday to provide a weak onshore flow which will enable all day surfing if you aren’t too fussy.

Next week (Jan23 onwards)

 Winds feeding into the remnants of the trough and extending out into the Northern Tasman and up into the Coral Sea to a monsoonal low will see a small building trend in short period E-ESE swell for the region through Mon. Not much to froth over, just up into the 2-3ft range through the day and low quality. 

The monsoonal low slides SE over the weekend and stalls near New Caledonia from Sun, with a broad fetch of strong SE-ESE winds aimed back at the tropics (see below). Swell radiating from this source fetch fills in through Tues, rebuilding wave heights to 3ft in a continuing light onshore flow.

The low dissipates early next week as it tracks back in towards the Eastern seaboard, so we’re not looking at any major swell from it at this stage. Surf from this source should hold fun sized E swell in the 3ft range through Wed and possibly Thurs next week before easing down.

Further into next week and weekend of 28/29 Jan we should see a very weak synoptic pattern evolve as the monsoon trough finally breaks down and we get a pattern of light winds and tiny surf. Thats a  long way off though and subject to change but it does look like a quiet spell ahead as the kids go back to school.

Check back Fri and we’ll see how it’s all shaping up. 


freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 18 Jan 2023 at 4:47pm

One of the lows budding off the monsoon trough has been named a TC by JTWC- name to come but I believe it is Irene.
(no great surf potential, slides off to the SE on the backside of New Cal)

The monsoon low off the QLD coast has been judged to have a medium chance of forming a TC in the next 48hrs.
Lets see how this one shapes up.

SDW's picture
SDW's picture
SDW Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 11:05am

Looking better on the cams at Coolum than I’ve seen it look for months. Sucks to be at work.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 11:50am

Warm SST's killed that Nor-easter stone dead.

Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 4:10pm

Indeed FR, surfed a spot on the tweed this morning that was punching well above its weight in size and hollowness, unique refraction from some nearby bathmetry....

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 4:13pm

Sounds good PS....I surfed some glassy peelers on a Point, fun for me and my son and relatively uncrowded due to high tide.
insane water quality and warmth.

SDW's picture
SDW's picture
SDW Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 1:29pm

Hoping tomorrow morning delivers.

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Thursday, 19 Jan 2023 at 4:27pm

Some great waves to be had this morning, water was sensational.

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Friday, 20 Jan 2023 at 8:33am

Paddled out at d-bar first light and honestly there were 100 guys out from the wall to lovers. Conditions looked like it was going to be a good session then a rain squall came through and everything quickly changed for the worst . Still managed to get a few and 1 really nice barrel that I made and the guy paddling out would have been praying I did .