Enough bits and pieces to get wet through the last days of 2023

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)

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

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Small long period S swell Thurs for S swell magnets- SE winds a problem in the a’noon
  • Small local S swell Fri with winds tending NE
  • Tiny mixed bag Sat with morning offshore winds
  • Stronger S swell Sun, holding into Mon AM
  • Mostly small NE swells Mon PM, bigger Tues
  • Another flukey S groundswell later Tues, easing Wed
  • S’ly change Thurs with some S/SE swell likely Thurs PM and Fri
  • Typical Summer week first week of Jan


Peaky beachies yesterday offered up a bit of Boxing Day fun in the 2-3ft range with clean morning conditions before light NE breezes kicked in. Similar today (maybe a smidge smaller) with a bit of NE windswell in the mix and variable (mostly offshore north of the Harbour, S’ly south of Sydney) winds. Altogether unremarkable but enough for a bit of a shred and great for kids with new Xmas boards.

Still some fun, peaky beachies to work with

This week (Dec 27-29)

No great change to the summer pattern with a massive heat dome over Central, Western and Northern Australia spawning trough lines which are creating unstable, stormy weather across large swathes of the East Coast. A complex inland trough/low is emerging from the Gippsland coast into the Tasman Sea with a fetch of SE-E/SE winds aimed at Tasmania and offering some small sideband energy up into Southern/Central NSW. Elsewhere, it’s a bland pattern with a dormant Coral Sea. Cold fronts later this week and over the weekend will supply some S swell and bring cooler weather. 

In the short run and the low off the Gippsland coast is slow moving tomorrow with an offshore outflow expected to extend across most of the region and lasting well through the morning hours before tending light E-SE in the a’noon as a weak front pushes up through Bass Strait up to the South Coast. The same peaky mix of E/SE and NE swells looks to supply surf a notch smaller in the 2ft range. Enough energy for a shred. We may see some traces of long period S swell across better known S swell magnets but the timing looks a bit off as SE winds will be in when the swell shows.

Small mixed bag to end the week with some new, minor short range S swell from the weak front and leftover E and NE swells hovering around 1-2ft (closer to 1ft!). Light onshore S-SE winds should swirl around and clock more E’ly then NE through the a’noon.

This weekend (Dec 30-31)

A cold front and an advancing trough should see a W/SW-SW flow Sat AM before winds tend SE as a new high pressure ridge quickly builds in behind the trough. Not much surf to work with- just a few small S swell trains of short period nature 2ft or less at open beaches so get in early for cleanest conditions. Once the wind clocks around S/SE to SE it’ll be hard to find a rideable wave.

The energy dial moves up several notches Sun as a more powerful frontal system moves into the Tasman Sat, weakening as it does so (see below). Unfortunately the high pressure ridge will maintain onshore SE to E winds, possibly weakening through the a’noon. If you can handle some lump and bump we’re expecting size to increase from 2-3ft to 3ft+ during the day at S exposed breaks. Low quality but enough juice to grab one more surf to close out 2023.

Next week (Jan 1 onwards)

Looks like strengthening high pressure in the Tasman for Jan 1, 2024 with a moderate onshore flow on the cards. Early birds will find some better quality mid period S swell to 3-4ft, bigger 4-5ft on the Hunter but expect that wind to kick in pretty early and tend E/NE through the day. Possibly tending more NE in the a’noon, opening up some S facing beaches. 

High pressure in the Tasman moves E and sets up a NE flow along the NSW coast, leading to NE windswell likely building to workable levels later Mon and increasing further into Tues. An E’ly fetch in the Northern Tasman better aimed at the sub-tropics contributes a small amount of E/NE swell into the mix.

We’ll be tracking another pulse of S’ly groundswell from a deeper polar low with a poorly aligned fetch scooting through the far Southern Tasman late this weekend (see below). Under current modelling we may see that pulse propagate northwards through Tues, with some 3ft sets likely and bigger surf possible at deepwater adjacent S facing reefs. That swell then eases through Wed with early 3ft sets easing through the day.

Further ahead and a northwards advancing trough ahead of another large high in the Bight looks to bring a S’ly change Thurs with a reasonable S/SE surge behind it as the trough moves into the Tasman. We’ll see how it looks on Fri but we’ll see some modest short range S-S/SE swell fill in as that fetch sets up, likely through later Thurs into Fri. 

Coral Sea and tropical South Pacific continues to look very sleepy so our swell sources look to be more small S pulses and NE wind swells as we motor into 2024. 

Check back Fri for the latest.