A few small swell sources to work with this week, continuing into the weekend

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 18th Sep)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Flukey long period S swell pulse through Tues with freshening N'y winds
  • NE windswell building Tues PM, peaking Wed AM, with winds tending NW Wed a’noon
  • Small amounts of E/NE swell filtering down from tradewinds provide a small, background signal through the week
  • S’ly change Wed night with fresh S’lies Thurs and building short range S swell
  • Mix off S’ly swells Fri with easing S-SE winds
  • Small mixed bag Sat 
  • Better quality S swell Sun with good winds
  • Small E/NE swells continue next week, enough for a grovel


A few fun waves over the weekend with a small pulse of S swell arriving later Fri hanging around into Sat and supplying some clean 2-3ft surf at S facing beaches, bigger 3-4ft on the Hunter. Size dipped into Sun with a mixed bag of leftover S swell and small E/NE swell topping out around 2ft and the odd bigger one on the Hunter. Small, clean surf has extended into today with residual S’ly swells and E/NE swell in the mix and size in the 2ft range, bigger 3ft sets on the Hunter. We may see some traces of long period S swell through the day but there’s no sign of it so far on the NSW waverider buoys. Light morning land breezes will tend N/NE as the day rapidly warms up and a seabreeze effect kicks in due to the temperature gradient between land and sea.

A few fun, clean beachies to start the week

This week (Sep18-22)

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 weakened and contracted eastwards but is expected to remain slow moving this week, maintaining a small, background signal of E/NE swell. The next change will be late Wed into Thurs, with some small S swell pulses following the change. Another slow moving high then moves NE into the Tasman over the weekend. Nothing too exciting but there should be enough wave energy for a grovel. 

In the short run we’ll see N’ly winds continue across the region. Expect a brief period of NW winds (longer in duration on the South Coast) before fresh N’lies kick in. Traces of long period S swell should supply some inconsistent 2 occ 3 ft sets at known S swell magnets- possibly with a few bigger outliers on deepwater adjacent S facing reefs. Through the a’noon we should see some workable NE windswell push into the 2ft range.

N’lies again Wed morning with a notch more NE windswell to work with- up into the 2-3ft range. By lunch-time we should see a tilt to the NW, even W/NW in the early a’noon. A S’ly change looks to arrive after dark across the Illawarra, later into Sydney so we should see clean beachbreaks on NE windswell through the a’noon.

Trick winds for Thurs morning as a trough stalls about the Central Coast. Possibly W/SW-SW early before fresh S’lies then tend S/SE through the day. Not much to enthuse about. A small background signal of E/NE swell may offer up some 2ft sets, but once that S’ly kicks in it’ll be sheltered spots only. We should see a building trend in short range, raggedy S swell through the latter part of the day for the very keen.

A mix of S swell trains for Fri is likely to have some size, but be low quality. Expect 3ft surf at S facing beaches, bigger 3-4ft on the Hunter. The initial S-SE surge up the coast will have migrated north into the sub-tropics but we’ll see a residual S’ly flow- likely with a brief SW wind north of the Harbour. Winds will back down through the a’noon but will no great quality on hand keep expectations low. There’ll be a rideable wave if you aren’t too fussy.

This weekend (Sep 23-24)

Not a great deal of action for Sat with just small leftover S swell trains and a weak background signal of E/NE swell offering up some 2ft sets across open beachies. Light SE winds are expected with morning land breezes so there should be some clean options for the early.

Winds improve for Sun as high pressure drifts out into the Tasman and very weak pressure gradients sit over Central NSW. Morning offshore winds should linger into mid-morning before a’noon NE seabreezes kick in. Should be some good quality S swell on offer as well as a deep,  compact low passes through the Tasman later this week, elongating as it does so. That should offer some 3ft sets at S facing beaches, bigger 4ft+ on the Hunter. Sunday looks the pick of the weekend.

Next week (Sep 25 onwards)

Back to a slow moving high in the Tasman, early next week with a N’ly flow becoming established. 

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.

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 the tropics into next week. Size won’t amount to much in temperate NSW, just a foot or two of background energy but should offer up a few small rideable options as other swell sources dry up next week.

Let’s see how it looks Wed.


Dna79's picture
Dna79's picture
Dna79 Monday, 18 Sep 2023 at 7:35pm

Thoughts on size at south swell magnets picking up the long period s-swell tomorrow morning?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Monday, 18 Sep 2023 at 7:47pm

I would expect a few 3ft sets, with some outliers possible at better magnets. Always a possibility of focussing with these longer swell periods especially with deepwater adjacent reefs.

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Tuesday, 19 Sep 2023 at 8:26am

Was a strong 3ft +++ on the sets last night but only at the very Nth End. Looked high period, although pretty much everything over 2ft closes out around here atm, unless you luck something (which generally lasts 30mins max).

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Tuesday, 19 Sep 2023 at 9:42am

Perfect shape and size this morning unfortunately it’s unrideable..banks are shot here nth end looks solid 3-4ft on sets

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus Tuesday, 19 Sep 2023 at 5:42pm

It was really great near my place (NB Sydney) today. 3' plus, offshore until around 1. Banks were holding up great on the high tide and it was plenty consistent.

Perfectly timed work from home day.

SimonJ's picture
SimonJ's picture
SimonJ Tuesday, 19 Sep 2023 at 9:51pm

Weird morning looked bumpy at 830am then wind switched NW & it went clean.....that was forecast for Wed not Tue but not complaining.