Better than the charts suggest

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 29th June)

Best Days: All week: fun SE swell with generally good winds, biggest Tues. Low point in size early Thurs and then late Fri

Recap: Saturday saw strong surf in the 6ft range at most open beaches, easing to 3-4ft Sunday, and then 3ft this morning. Conditions have been generally clean for the most part with light variable winds. A new pulse of SE swell is filling back into the coast, and although the regional wave buoys have yet to pick up a discernible trend, some 3-4ft sets have been observed at exposed spots late this afternoon. 

Tucking into a late Monday bowl at Shark Island

This week (June 30 - July 3)

Our new SE swell should fill in properly overnight, and we’re looking at a full day of fun though inconsistent SE energy on Tuesday, with light winds and clean conditions.  

The swell source was very strong and sustained - and indeed, still is - however it was off axis from our swell window, and this will affect not only the size of the swell reaching Southern NSW compared to its northern counterparts but also the consistency. 

Wave heights should manage 3-4ft at most open beaches with some degree of exposure to the south, and the Hunter should see larger waves in the 4-5ft range (there’s still a chance for a few bigger sets here and there). Protected southern ends will be smaller though.

A gradual easing is then expected through the rest of the week, though it’s worth pointing out that the source of our inbound swell is still very active off the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. However, it’s aimed even less favourably towards Australia, so we’ll see smaller surf through the middle to latter part of the week - but more than model guidance is currently indicating. The wave models are picking up the periods but not the size from this swell, which is resulting in a much smaller estimate in surf size from Wednesday onwards. 

As such, I’m expecting Wednesday to ease slowly from an inconsistent 3ft+ to 2-3ft, and then Thursday to still manage occasional 2-3ft sets through the morning ahead of a lunchtime/afternoon pulse slightly above this (originating from a strengthening at the southern end of the fetch later today and overnight - see below), before then easing from 2-3ft to 2ft on Friday. 

Again, bigger surf is possible through the Hunter throughout this time frame but we’ll see incrementally smaller surf as you head south from Sydney. 

Friday may also see a minor S’ly swell from westerly gales exiting eastern Bass Strait later Thursday. No major size is expected though.

As for conditions, most of the week looks great with mainly light winds for the next few days, freshening NW Thursday and then W’ly on Friday. The afternoons do have a mild northerly risk but it shouldn’t be overly detrimental if it crops up. 

This weekend (July 4 - 5)

Surf conditions look OK this weekend with periods of offshore winds, though they’ll become gusty at times on Saturday as a vigorous front crosses into the Tasman Sea. A SW tending S/SW tendency is possible at times into the afternoon - also through Sunday - though on the balance both mornings should see healthy windows of workable conditions.

As for surf, we’ll start the weekend with small leftover SE swell and a small S’ly swell from the early stages of the frontal system entering the Tasman Sea. Saturday afternoon should see a strong upwards trend in size from the south (3-4ft+ sets at south facing beaches) and we are looking at a little more size through Sunday (3-5ft south facing beaches) as the swell fills in properly. Expect much smaller surf at southern ends. 

Next week (July 6 onwards)

Looks like we’ll be back to a classic winter frontal progression through the Tasman Sea for much of next week, offering back-to-back south swells, at least one of ‘em quite sizeable (most size likely around Tues/Wed). However it’ll also be cold and windy to boot. Certainly won’t be any shortage of swell though!

See you Wednesday. 


FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP commented Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 8:34pm

Thanks Ben,

When you say incrementally smaller down Sth on Wed and Thurs. If we are talking Ulladulla area, what are we talking?