Tradewind swell slowly backs down from tomorrow, with a N'ly flow to work around

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

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

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Quality E-E/NE swell holds Mon/Tues with N’ly winds (lighter NW in the morning)
  • Tradewind swells slowly back down Wed/Thurs with a S’ly change Thurs
  • Strong SE surge Fri with developing short range S/SE swell
  • S/SE swell holds over the weekend, slowly easing through Sun with S-SE winds
  • Small mixed bag of S and SE swells early next week
  • Tending to another round of small, fun tradewind swell next week with SE winds tending N’ly in NENSW


Plenty of surf over the weekend as E/NE tradewind swell came to the party. Sat saw the best conditions with clean 3-4ft surf across most of the region, under light winds, which tended E/NE in the a’noon. Sun was similar size or a smidge bigger but N’ly winds were a problem in NENSW after a brief calm spell early. Lighter winds in SEQLD were suitable for all day surfing with a spread of surf across beaches and Points. Today has seen surf level down a half notch this morning (although more is expected through the day) with calm conditions early, tending to mod/fresh N’ly winds, stronger in NENSW. All in all, some really fun surf to be had if you could dodge the N’lies.

September sessions at SEQLD secret spot

Sep sessions part 2

This week (Sep 18-22)

We’ve got another slow moving pattern on our hands to start the week with a high pressure belt at sub-tropical latitudes directing a N’ly flow across the state and a very zonal (W-E) storm track tracking through the far southern Tasman Sea. A tradewind band has slowly weakened and contracted eastwards but is expected to remain slow moving this week, maintaining a fun signal of E-E/NE swell. The next change will be Thurs, with some S swell pulses following the SE surge behind the change . Another slow moving high then moves NE into the Tasman over the weekend. There’ll be some fun waves around if you can work around or with the N’lies.

In the short run we’ll see N’ly winds continue across the region. Expect a brief period of NW winds before fresh N’lies kick in, lighter and more NE in SEQLD. E/NE tradewind swell looks to perk up a notch this a’noon into tomorrow before easing through the a’noon. So, a few 4ft sets in the morning, backing down in the a’noon.

SEQLD continues the theme of better winds into Wed, with a lighter NW flow in the morning, tending N-NE during the day. Stronger N’lies will be in effect in NENSW, especially south of Yamba. Tradewind swell will be down a notch but holding 2-3ft surf, so expect some fun backbeach options.

Tricky winds for Thurs morning as a trough stalls about the Central Coast with a S’ly change working it’s way north. Likely W/NW-NW early before fresh S’lies then tend S/SE through the day. The S’ly change looks to hit Coffs mid morning, Byron-Ballina early a’noon and the border by late a’noon. We’ll see the tradewind swell ease back to the 2ft range, just enough for a fun grovel. 

A mix of S swell trains for Fri is likely to have some size as the SE surge pushes in hard and winds broaden through the Northern Tasman but quality is likely pretty low. Fresh S-SE winds will extend right through the region, so you’ll be forced to surf sheltered points where size will be much smaller. Likely 3-5ft on the open beaches, trending down to 2-3ft or less into the Points where the leftover tradewind swell will see a few small peelers. 

This weekend (Sep 23-24)

The high pressure ridge in behind the SE surge will hold winds from the S-SE all weekend. They’ll be fresh through Sat, easing a notch through Sun but any windows of SW wind will be brief and limited to NENSW and the Southern Gold Coast.

Mod S-S/SE swell should hold size in the 3-4ft range Sat, smaller into more protected Points and Bays. There’ll be some raggedy options for this not too fussy about wave quality.

S/SE swell then eases a notch through Sun as winds relax in the Northern Tasman. We’ll see some better quality S swell show through Sun in NENSW, arriving in SEQLD after lunch, but it’ll be hard to pull that signal out of the noise from the SE sea state.

Next week (Sep 25 onwards)

Back to a slow moving high in the Tasman, early next week with a light SE flow becoming N’ly through the week (earlier in NENSW, later in SEQLD). 

The high does look to block and deflect fronts under the Tasman sea but we may see some small S swells wrap in mid week from activity below the continent.

S swell over the weekend should linger into Mon with SE swell mixed in up to 2-3ft. 

EC does suggest the remnant of Fri/Sat’s low reforming near New Zealand and generating a SE fetch out of Cook Strait and adjacent to the North Island which would generate some useful E/SE swell next week. It’s an outlier though, so we’ll just flag it and see how it looks Wed.

Other than that, small amounts of E/NE swell continue to filter down from tradewinds into next week. There’s a distant tradewind fetch adding some background energy and a Coral Sea fetch supplying closer range energy. Size should linger in the 2 occ. 3ft range from Tues. Nothing amazing but fun for spring. 

Let’s see how it looks Wed. 


Tony Miller-Greenman's picture
Tony Miller-Greenman's picture
Tony Miller-Greenman Tuesday, 19 Sep 2023 at 7:18pm

Thanks again for the great notes.

Often read religiously by myself to plan ahead.

What are you preliminary thoughts on the forecast models 10second, 1.8m swell Tuesday - Thursday next week?

I’m hoping it eventuates as the banks look nice at a few spots on the GC with the extra sand. Could be a nice little run again - but won’t get the hopes up (unless you think I should) Steve/freeride76?

davo3000's picture
davo3000's picture
davo3000 Tuesday, 19 Sep 2023 at 7:47pm

Is the return to an elnino pattern a better period for surf on the the east coast of Oz. I'd say so for now. We'll see how October to December pans out.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Wednesday, 20 Sep 2023 at 8:24am

I believe its usually the opposite Davo

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Wednesday, 20 Sep 2023 at 8:27am

Based on the recent events
La Nina- Queensland points
El Niño- exposed beach breaks

davo3000's picture
davo3000's picture
davo3000 Wednesday, 20 Sep 2023 at 3:54pm

I think the la nina periods aren't that good. We get a lot of bank busting swells wich cause erosion and then gutter trash surf for ages after the swells. El Nino period have smaller swells wich results in better banks for the east coast. Longer flat periods though.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Wednesday, 20 Sep 2023 at 5:37pm

Yeah I agree. Depends what you mean by good. La Niña associated with more consistent east swell. People who love the point stuff (read: putting up with the crowds) love it.

I’m like you, kind of cringe at a big bank buster because it usually makes the every day quiet beachie surf harder to come by.

I’m sure despite El Niño being imminent, there’ll be some moments of gold. So far has been a pretty good September

Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted Wednesday, 20 Sep 2023 at 7:58pm

El Niño will mean cold water, red weed, and nuclear nor’ Easter’s on the Mid North Coast. Very little surfing joy to be had.

maka2000's picture
maka2000's picture
maka2000 Thursday, 21 Sep 2023 at 3:07pm

love both el nino and la nina