Lots of wind changes and small swells to work with this week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Mon 25th Sep)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • E/NE swells bumping up a notch Tues/Wed- expect long waitrs for sets
  • Mixed bag continues with small S/SE and E/SE swells in the mix Wed/Thurs
  • Typical spring winds- S’ly change Tues, light winds Wed, S’ly change Thurs, N’lies Fri
  • N’ly winds this weekend
  • Stronger S swell Sat PM, holding Sun AM before easing
  • NE windswell Sun PM
  • Stronger NE windswell likely Tues PM/Wed next week - check back Wed for updates


A bit of fun for the weekend with small S swells supplying enough energy for a shred and light winds through the morning offering clean/glassy conditions. Both days were in the 2-3ft range at S facing beaches, a notch bigger Sat PM as a slightly stronger S swell filled in. This morning has wound back under easing swells with clean morning conditions and some 2ft surf at S facing beaches, smaller elsewhere. 

Plenty of fun options at S facing beaches over the weekend

This week (Sep25-29)

The high pressure belt is behaving in typical spring fashion- tracking NE as it enters the Tasman with episodic N’lies. We’ve got a small fetch out of Cook Strait at present from a decaying low pressure system, and small, compact low about to enter the Tasman. Combined with some swell from a tradewind band feeding into a long trough we’ll see concurrent small swells from these sources. A stronger front late this week will supply a modest S pulse heading into the weekend. Read on for details.

In the short run and a S’ly change from a small low passing into the Tasman and a trough looks to arrive pretty early. We may see a brief window of W-W/NW winds (more likely on the Hunter). Otherwise, a mod S/SW flow quickly clocking around S/SE through the morning. We will see a small bump in size from the distant tradewind fetch, with sets up to 2ft and the odd bigger one with long waits. 

Winds should drop out quickly for Wed with a morning land breeze and light E’ly seabreezes in the a’noon. A mixed bag will be in full effect with E/NE swell from the South Pacific, E/SE swell from the Cook Strait fetch and small S/SE swell from the compact low tracking into the Tasman. All these sources are modest but should add up to some fun 2-3ft surf on the beachies with the a’noon looking the best size wise. 

Another S’ly change Thurs with good odds for a morning period of light/variable winds, or land breezes. Same mixed bag on offer but with all sources on a fade out it’ll biased more towards 2ft with just the odd bigger one. Winds tend light SE through the a’noon after a shallow S’ly change. 

High pressure quickly moves NE into Fri, bringing another N’ly episode. Light morning winds from the NW will tend light NE through the day. Not much size on offer. A small bump in S swell from Thursdays change and frontal passage but no great quality or size- just some 2ft S swell, bigger 2-3ft on the Hunter and a fading E/NE swell signal. There’ll be a surfable wave Fri but nothing to get frothed about. 

This weekend (Sep30-Oct1)

Winds looms a bit tricky for Sat, as a trough lingers and a new high enters the Tasman in the wake of quite a strong front late Fri. A N’ly flow will develop and freshen at some point in the day. We may see lighter W-NW winds before that. Fridays front tracks NE and looks to send a reasonable pulse of S swell up the coast, likely arriving after lunch in the 3ft range, bigger on the Hunter. N-N/NE winds will likely be mod/fresh by that time so you’ll need some wind protection. 

N’ly winds freshen o/night but an approaching trough may see winds shift NW into Sun morning. We’ll finesse winds through the week but the development of a N’ly fetch up the NSW Coast is likely to see some useful NE windswell develop through the a’noon. S’ly swell through the morning should hold 2-3ft surf with bigger 3-4ft sets on the Hunter. 

Next week (Oct2 onwards)

Looks like NE windswell will be the main swell source next week. 

There’s model divergence for the opening of the week but the basic pattern seems fairly established.

N’ly winds and small NE windswell likely for Mon and Tues.

Things look juicier from mid week as winds really accelerate into an approaching complex trough. Models are suggesting quite a strong fetch possibly late Tues into Wed, suggesting some real size from the NE through Wed. 

We’ll see how it looks on Wed but penciling in at least 3-4ft of NE windswell Wed is justified. An offshore change as the trough/front pushes through offers up great potential for temperate NSW either late Wed or early Thurs depending on timing.

Check back Wed and we’ll see how it looks. 


Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 26 Sep 2023 at 9:14am

First 'surf' back. Jeez the banks are absolutely shot. We need a big mix up.

Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2's picture
Stu2d2 Tuesday, 26 Sep 2023 at 2:35pm

Hey Craig, slightly off topic but compared to the 19/20 bushfire summer again we have negative SAM, El Niño and positive IOD. I get that the levels of each won’t be the same however should it lead to a fairly similar pattern of heat waves followed by long period S swell for the east coast? (Obviously the LWT needs to kinda line up?). Or did the SSW over the Andes (which hasn’t occurred this time?) have a significant impact?
Not so good for Manly folk obviously…