Modest mixed bag continues into the weekend with some juicier options on the table next week

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

Sydney Hunter Illawarra Surf Forecast by Steve Shearer (issued Wed 27th Sep)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Mixed bag continues with small S/SE and E/SE swells in the mix Thurs with light winds tending NE
  • Small S swell into the mix Fri with light NW winds tending variable
  • 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/Thurs next week - potentially good/great waves Thurs
  • Possible strong S swell next weekend if low forms in Tasman- early days, check back Fri for updates


A few fun beachies around yesterday with morning clean conditions and around 2ft of swell with the odd bigger one. A S’ly change ripped into it  at the start of office hours and blew out most spots in short order apart from protected spots. E/NE swell from a souped up tradewind fetch  in the South Pacific saw surf build to 3ft in the a’noon with long lines. Winds have dropped down quickly into today with light morning land breezes tending to weak E’ly breezes and a small E’ly dominated mixed bag in the 2 occ. 3ft range offering up a few options if you could find a good bank. Nothing amazing but definitely surfable.

Back to light winds this morning with some sets from the E/NE, easing in size

This week (Sep27-29)

Typical mobile spring pattern with a high moving NE into sub-tropical latitudes, a weakening trough moving north, remnants of a weak low in the Tasman and a new high cell moving through the Bight. High cells are now tending to move NE as they enter the Tasman, bringing N’ly episodes which were rare through our triple La Niña but are becoming common as we enter El Niño proper. Small, combination swells and some light wind periods pad out the rest of the week with a more entrenched N’ly episode next week offering potential for a much juicier NE swell.

In the short run and we’ll see light winds through tomorrow morning as a broad area of high pressure moves over NSW, with winds tending NE’ly in the a’noon. A brief period of land breezes north of the harbour is expected, otherwise, that weak onshore flow will set in quickly. A small mixed bag of E/SE swell from a Cook Strait fetch and S/SE and E swells should provide some 2-3ft surf across open beaches. A bump in E swell through the a’noon as slightly longer period swell makes landfall may see some sets stand out from the background signal.

Light winds for Fri morning, tending W-NW then variable under a weak, troughy flow. That should see another day or unremarkable but fun beachies in the 2 occ. 3ft range. This time, small S swell trains from passing fronts do the “heavy” lifting so hit up S facing beaches for max size. E swell will be dropping in the mix with just the odd 2ft set. Just enough energy for a shred. 

This weekend (Sep30-Oct1)

N’ly quarter winds for the weekend as high pressure moves NE into the Tasman. Light NW winds for Sat morning before they freshen up from the N-N/NE in the a’noon.

Not much size for the morning- just a weak signal of leftover swells in the 1-2ft range, biggest at S facing beaches. A stronger front tracking quickly NE into the Tasman Fri with an off axis fetch should will some stronger S swell fill in through the a’noon- up into the 3ft range, bigger 3-5ft on the Hunter. By then we will have full strength N/NE winds blowing so you’ll need direct S facing beaches or reefs to find protection.

Lighter winds Sun as a front/trough approaches and possibly tending more N/NW-NW in the a’noon. Saturdays S swell pulse will be on the way down so get in early for some 3ft sets before it drops away. We’ll see some workable NE windswell develop in the a’noon, up into the 2 occ. 3ft range. A late S’ly change doesn’t look like it will hit the region until after dark but we’ll finesse that on Fri.

Next week (Oct2 onwards)

Still looking like NE windswell will be the main item on the menu next week but we’ll start the week with brief flush of S’ly winds from an overnight change.  That will come with some small short range S swell in the 2-3ft range tops but low quality in the onshore flow. 

Winds shift back N’ly on Tues. Tues morning should be the low point. By the a’noon we should start to see developing NE windswell. EC is much more bullish than GFS so we’ll see how the models look on Fri. Under EC scenario we should be in the 2-3ft range by close of play, GFS still small 1-2ft.

By Wed a building trend in NE windswell looks assured as winds accelerate into an approaching complex trough. We’ll see how the fetch looks on Fri, but we can pencil in 3-4ft surf with a reasonable degree of confidence.

Stronger into Thurs, possibly in the 4-5ft range or even bigger if EC comes off.

Make plans for Thurs as the trough brings a clearing NW-W flow offering potential for some good/great surf. 

Further ahead and the complex trough may form a low in the Tasman Fri with the return flow offering solid potential for strong S-S/SE swell into the weekend 7/8 Oct. Again, EC is much more bullish than GFS so we'll keep a lid on the froth for now.

That's a long way off, so we’ll flag it for now and see how it looks on Fri and into the new week.

For now, more small waves typical of spring are on offer.

Seeya Fri.


Jeremy Clayton's picture
Jeremy Clayton's picture
Jeremy Clayton Wednesday, 27 Sep 2023 at 4:40pm

What’s ec and gfc mean sorry?

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 27 Sep 2023 at 4:46pm

EC is short for ECMWF or European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts- aka the European model
GFS is short for Global Forecast System - aka the American model.

These would be considered by most people to be the main weather models.

There are many others, but these are global.

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Thursday, 28 Sep 2023 at 9:11am

I really hope that forecast for Wednesday/Thursday NE swell stays true..and reshapes our local banks ..I’m out of the water for 2/3weeks BCC operations.. I dreaming of some banks in few weeks to surf again ..

FrazP's picture
FrazP's picture
FrazP Thursday, 28 Sep 2023 at 9:27am

Nasty - good luck with the recovery Sean. Gee some banks would be nice.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 28 Sep 2023 at 9:39am

Yeah best of luck Sean!

sean killen's picture
sean killen's picture
sean killen Thursday, 28 Sep 2023 at 11:13am


Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Thursday, 28 Sep 2023 at 3:16pm

Go the EC