Southerly swells favouring south of the border

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Fri 30th June)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Plenty of strong though acute south swell for NNSW, best Sat with light winds
  • Only small in SE Qld, aim for exposed northern ends on Sat whilst winds are light
  • Fresh S'ly winds will create problems at exposed beaches Sun; protected spots will be small
  • Similar S'ly swells early next week with improving conditions Mon, much better by Tues with light winds
  • Smaller S'ly and S/SE swells Wed onwards, good winds, plenty of fun south facing beaches south of the border


Fun southerly swells built through Thursday, reaching 3-4ft at south facing beaches south of Byron but remaining small throughout most of SE Qld. Early offshore winds preceded a fresh south-east breeze in the afternoon. Similar conditions have persisted today though the size trend is now heading down. Today's afternoon sea breeze was much weaker, even variable across some coasts.

Small southerly lines on the Sunny Coast to finish the working week

This weekend (July 1-2)

Let's take a look at SE Qld, and get the pain over with quickly: an upcoming southerly swell regime will maintain tiny conditions across most beaches for the weekend. 

However, there will be some south swell in the water both days, at exposed northern ends and south swell magnets. And with gusty southerly winds expected to develop on Sunday, Saturday is your best chance for a surf with light variable winds expected for the most part. There may be a lag on the south swell's arrival early morning (especially on the Sunny Coast, where confidence isn't very high for this energy anyway) but lets peg most beaches around the 1ft mark, with the swell magnets potentially seeing 2ft, maybe rare 2-3ft sets both days. Aim for an afternoon paddle. 

South of the border, and a series of overlapping south swells remain on the menu for the next three or four days, thanks to a series of powerful fronts sliding around an amplifying long wave trough over New Zealand longitudes. 

At this stage it's hard to be confident on specific timing and size, because of the number of concurrent swell trains. Either way, south facing beaches have the potential for 3-5ft surf both days. However, anywhere not directly open to the south will be much smaller in size than the above figures. It's a really acute swell source (primary fetch is broadly SW, from eastern Bass Strait down to the ice shelf) so expect a wide variation in size from beach to beach. Southern ends and sheltered corners will be quite small.

If anything, Sunday's probably likely to see the upper end of this size range, with slightly undersized waves on Saturday, however I wouldn't rule anything out at this stage. I'm just a little more confident on the backside of the frontal progression through the Tasman Sea, because it'll be more established, slightly more meridional in alignment and also further east in longitude, allowing for a better spread into the coast.

However, just like SE Qld, Northern NSW will see fresh southerly winds develop overnight Saturday, persisting Sunday (with an outside chance for localised early SW breezes), which will wipe out open beaches. As such, Saturday is your best day for a wave across most open beaches; Sunday should offer small options at semi-exposed points. 

Next week (Jul 3 onwards)

Strong, pulsey south swells will persist across Northern NSW on Monday and Tuesday as the backside of the LWT lines up a little better within our swell window. Swell direction will still be very south, but slightly east of south and with a more drawn out wavelength allowing better penetration into a broader part of the coast. But, it will remain quite small throughout SE Qld.

A temporary dip in size is possible at some point on Monday but reinforcing S/SE swells should maintain 4-5ft sets at south facing beaches south of Byron,  holding through much of Tuesday. A weakening pressure gradient will create light winds, which should make for much better conditions across the coast.

Across SE Qld, we'll see a smidge more size fill in across the coast as the direction becomes more S/SE - perhaps some inconsistent 1-2ft sets at open beaches, but not really enough for the points. South swell magnets and exposed northern ends should see the best waves with occasional 3ft sets (slightly smaller on the Sunny Coast). Monday is at risk of seeing persistent SE breezes (mainly Sunny Coast) but Tuesday should be clean with light winds everywhere.

The second half of the week maintains smaller residual S'ly energy that should keep the swell magnets (south of Byron) active with fun 2-3ft sets, smaller elsewhere and throughout SE Qld.

I'm quite interested in the synoptics across waters immediately south of New Zealand down to the ice shelf over the forecast period, which look to remain active under the slow moving LWT; this may result in several pulses of sideband S/SE swells between Wed and Sun (yes, five days!) across Northern NSW. This may provide occasionally bigger sets at times though the timing won't be clear until Monday. 

Otherwise, a weak coastal trough will drift down the Northern/Central Qld coasts early in the week, but it doesn't look like much of a swell producer at this stage. Just a small level of low period N/NE swell mid-week if we're lucky (I'll keep an eye and update Monday).

Have a great weekend!


NoUseforaName's picture
NoUseforaName's picture
NoUseforaName Friday, 30 Jun 2023 at 6:30pm

Looks like I’m hitting Bali without surfing at all for 4 weeks. Such an ideal preparation.

mr mick's picture
mr mick's picture
mr mick Friday, 30 Jun 2023 at 7:19pm

Why, where do you live…….Alice Springs?

dilmah's picture
dilmah's picture
dilmah Friday, 30 Jun 2023 at 7:24pm

Nice reference of the LWT Ben - don't often hear Freeride mention it (no disrespect)

Got any good links to LWT forecast at the moment - the one I use to use on my laptop I can't seem to access, and the one in the swellnet notes on waves doesn't open anymore...

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM Sunday, 2 Jul 2023 at 6:28pm

I don't see that as being a good idea.