Small, clean days continue into and over the weekend

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 29th March)

Forecast Summary (tl;dr)

  • More small S swell pulses Wed and Fri
  • Light, troughy NW-W winds Wed
  • NW winds Thurs, tending W’ly
  • Another small, clean weekend ahead with a small mixed bag of S swells favouring NENSW for size
  • More troughy, unstable synoptics next week, stay tuned for updates


Inconsistent but long-lined E and S swell came in yesterday around f/cast expectations with very infrequent 3ft sets. Conditions were primo under a light/variable flow which persisted through the day. Today has seen surf slow down more with inconsistent 2-3ft sets on offer for the patient under clean morning conditions . 

Small and slow but great clean conditions with some fun to be had

This week (Mar 29-31)

Still a complex, troughy pattern in play with a slow moving trough of low pressure drifting south off the Gippsland coast towards waters East of Tasmania. A front sweeping in behind the trough is bringing a clearing W’ly flow through temperate NSW today, reaching the sub-tropics tomorrow. A belt of high pressure below the continent is now weakening and setting us up for a more benign pattern compared to Mondays notes. 

In the short run we’ll see an extended period of light W’ly winds through tomorrow, with possible light NW winds early north of the QLD border, and widespread groomed conditions.  You’ll have to exercise even more patience as we squeeze the last drops of juice from long range E and small S swell leftovers. Sets in the 2ft range are on offer, with the very occasional bigger set. 

As the trough of low pressure deepens East of Tas we’ll see the return S’ly flow extend Northwards up through the region on Fri. Early SW winds tend S’ly through the day and finally clock around S/SE in the a’noon. Mid period S swell will be in the water early, in the 2-3ft range at S facing beaches in NENSW and increase a notch during the day, with SEQLD seeing a much more modest increase- likely 2ft at the most reliable S swell magnets through the a’noon.

This weekend (Apr 1-2)

Another small front pushes up past Cape Howe overnight Fri into Sat, re-energising the S’ly flow for Sat in temperate NSW. Further north a weak angled trough sitting in the Northern Tasman should maintain a lighter S’ly flow with morning SW winds extending well into the mid/late morning. Fridays increase extends into Sat , looking fun enough with 2-3ft surf at S facing beaches in NENSW, smaller 2ft in SEQLD. Also in the mix will be some inconsistent SSE swell from a deep ice shelf fetch- worth a few 2ft+ sets.

Sun sees the small blend of S swells level off in the 2-3ft range at S facing beaches in NENSW, smaller 2ft in SEQLD before easing back down through the a’noon. Conditions look good with morning offshore breezes tending to light/variable winds in the a’noon. Another Autumn day with the power dial turned low but clean conditions to offset the lack of size and power.

Next week (Apr 3 onwards)

As mentioned, more benign conditions are now more likely for next week. High pressure moves quickly into the Tasman Sun into Mon and an expected surface trough off the Mid North Coast now looks less likely, with an elongated weak trough hovering parallel and close to the NSW Coast.

South swell looks to dry up quickly into Mon, with just small leftovers on offer. The high in the Tasman and parallel trough looks set to deliver a couple of days of light SE-E winds and small, E swell building from 2ft Mon into the 2-3ft range Tues as winds off the top of the high develop a broad but weak fetch in the Northern Tasman. Nothing amazing but it will keep small beachbreak options open. 

The trough looks to spawn a small low off the South Coast/Gippsland region, dragging an offshore flow with it, so we at least should see clean conditions through most of next week, at least Tues-Thurs under current modelling. 

Into the end of the week and leading models differ greatly on expected outcomes. GFS suggests the low will be absorbed by a much stronger front and low forming a powerful progression of SW-S winds in the Tasman and a strong S swell building Fri.

EC maintains the low as a weak, amorphous, slow moving system North-East of Tasmania with no major swell being produced as it lingers in the Tasman.

Model divergence in these periods of troughiness is par for the course so check back in Fri and we’ll have a clearer idea of how next week will shape up as well as a last look at the weekend.  At some point this troughy pattern will have to translate into a more dynamic low pressure system to bring the first real swell of Autumn.


adsi's picture
adsi's picture
adsi Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 9:02am

Worst March of surf I've ever had, plenty of surfable days but mostly 2ft and weak.
Good news is that the banks are looking quite good everywhere and after such a lackluster period we are surely due some pumping autumn swells, gimme some of those days where we get 4-5ft of south and 4ft east swell and there are a frames all up and down the beaches, ppl getting shacked everywhere and offshores dusk till dawn!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 9:12am

The power dial has definitely been set to low all March- been some fun days but agree with your assessment.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 9:15am

First time the open stretch here has had a chance for any sand to settle in close to shore in recent memory.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 9:17am

Yeah, beachie banks forming up nicely.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 9:31am

Yeh, if you’re giving the sand a chance while getting 2foot fun clean combination swells, I’ll take that any day over 1ft NE windslop to do it.

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 11:25am

Really thought the neap tides and mellow surface conditions would fill in the gutter at my local, hasn't happened unfortunately.. i guess the offshore wind must be the missing ingredient.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 1:53pm

Looking farther ahead, I like the look of this (a week from now). And if the sweep gets strong, I'll have just the tool for the job.

tiger's picture
tiger's picture
tiger Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 3:42pm

Can you promise that'll come off IB. Fingers crossed, 2ft baby food is getting old.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Friday, 31 Mar 2023 at 3:49pm

I wish, seeds :-)

Latest run has a deep low, but tucked a little more to the coast. I'm following it closely, for selfish reasons.