Make the most of Tuesday; W'ly swells to dominate thereafter

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 11th September)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Today's swell easing from Tuesday with offshore winds on the Surf Coast
  • Smaller Wednesday, bottoming out Thurs with ideal conditions for the open beaches east of Melbourne
  • Small new W'ly swell Fri, but not really worthwhile
  • Building W'ly swells all weekend but not much size in Torquay; average conditions east of Melbourne
  • Westerly swells to dominate much of next week


Large surf early Saturday eased slowly through the day, from around 6ft in Torquay and 8ft along the open beaches east of Melbourne, and conditions were best at sheltered spots (and along the Surf Coast) with winds tending W/NW. Sunday provided fun 3ft surf west of Melbourne with moderate NW winds, with 4-5ft east of Melbourne becoming too small for protected locations. Today has seen building S/SW swells from 3ft to now 4-5ft along the Surf Coast, with the East Coasts now pushing 6ft. Winds are light NW so conditions are nice and clean along the Surf Coast, slightly wobbly at the open beaches east of Melbourne. 

This week (Sep 12 - 15)

Today’s swell will peak overnight and then ease gradually through Tuesday. With winds out of the NW it’ll be a great morning for the Surf Coast though a shallow W/SW change is due later so aim for a morning paddle (it’ll have the most size too). Let’s peg size around the 3-4ft mark at dawn (3-5ft across the swell magnets), easing to 2-3ft by the end of the day. Expect long breaks between the sets too.

East of Melbourne will be bigger but more wind affected as the NW breeze freshens. Protected spots will probably be undersized though you may score a few early options if you’re lucky.

The rest of the week will see generally small surf with good winds for the open beaches on Thursday. Light to moderate NW winds on Wednesday should accompany just enough size for fun leftovers across the Surf Coast (2ft+ easing to 1-2ft) but Thursday morning will bottom out with ideal conditions for the open beaches east of Melbourne and clean 2-3ft leftovers.

A new long period swell will show across the buoys Thursday morning and it’ll push through Bass Strait during the day, however it’ll be quite westerly in direction, owing to a quite northern storm track at the moment, above 40S (to the W/SW of Margaret River). As such, we probably won’t see much of a size increase along the Surf Coast; even parts of the Mornington Peninsula will dip out for any major increase after lunch, but Phillip Island often picks up these westerly swells quite nicely so expect some 3-5ft sets here into the afternoon.

A similar size range is expected on Friday (i.e. small in Torquay, biggest to the far east of Melbourne) but freshening NW tending W’ly winds with a modest front will keep surface conditions below par at those beaches picking up the bulk size. So it’s not worth too much effort. 

As a side note, how's the sneaky cut-off low slipping below Tasmania in the Wednesday chart below? Had it developed a couple of hundred kays further west, it may have been a potential source for a flush of swell on Thursday but this synoptic chart is misleading, and I reckon it won't amount to much, if anything.

This weekend (Sep 16 - 17)

The swell charts look active for the weekend but I fear the dominant westerly swell direction will have an ongoing negative impact at those coasts best suited to the accompanying NW airstream on Saturday. 

The storm track all week is expected to ride quite north in latitude, generally above 50S but positioned quite some distance from the Victorian coast. The best source of winds will be a broad W/NW infeed developing in the lee of a subtropical low near WA longitudes mid-week (see chart above). Prior stages of this low displayed very strong but off-axis winds, and were positioned inside Victoria’s long range swell window between Madagascar and Heard Island. Not great for size potential along sheltered Vicco coasts, at any rate.

So, with the automated surf model calling 2ft in Torquay (with NW winds) and 3ft on Sunday, I’m inclined to peg those figures back a little and highlight the likelihood for major inconsistency in set waves. If you have to pick a day, Sunday is your best option.

Local winds are expected to ease Sunday which may open up opportunities east of Melbourne, but we’ll need a few more days to assess the timing (without an offshore breeze to straighten out the bumps, conditions may only swing from ‘bumpy’ on Saturday to ‘lumpy’ on Sunday).  

Take home message: the weekend outlook isn’t that exciting at the moment.

Next week (Sep 18 onwards)

In general, the Long Wave Trough moves slowly eastwards through the Southern Ocean, so these kinds of westerly swell regimes are often replaced with south-west patterns once the LWT passes Tasmanian longitudes.

However, in the current scenario there is a suggestion that the LWT may stall over WA longitudes later this week, delaying its eastward movement and prolonging activity in our western swell window. It’ll eventually shift, and in the interim, we do have plenty of surf potential as the storm track will be closer to the mainland (so, wave decay will be reduced, owing to a shorter travel distance), however it does mean that we may need to be a little more patient for the arrival of the next major swell event - for the Surf Coast at least.

More on this in Wednesday’s update. 


greyhound's picture
greyhound's picture
greyhound Monday, 11 Sep 2023 at 4:32pm

Although fairly westerly , it does look like a decent fetch on the wams under oz over the next few days. Disappointing if it only gets to 2/3 ft on Surfcoast on the wkend.

Mr.Tee on a long board's picture
Mr.Tee on a long board's picture
Mr.Tee on a lon... Monday, 11 Sep 2023 at 10:53pm

Sunday at W.P. looks okay to me at present.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone Tuesday, 12 Sep 2023 at 11:08am

Funny how South Channel has the wind straightening up (touch East of North) but it got progressively lumpier and bumpier during the paddle just had.

It’s not even a strong wind so it’s not like the it could be coming from the West Coast if it’s more NW over there.

Classic MP

dbut's picture
dbut's picture
dbut Tuesday, 12 Sep 2023 at 11:50am

It went westerly at fairhaven around the same time, we have the same pocket of wind

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone Tuesday, 12 Sep 2023 at 12:06pm

NE here now apparently. It ain’t on the back beaches. That’s for sure. I’ll never understand how.