Just days after Illawarra residents sweated through a record-breaking heatwave, the region’s beaches and pools officially open this weekend (23-24 September) for the summer swimming season.
Unfortunately, the timing of the spring heatwave came just before lifeguards were on duty to allow the region’s beaches and swimming pools to open any earlier.
Wollongong City Council Acting General Manager Kerry Hunt said North Wollongong was the only patrolled beach that was open during the week and fast-tracking the opening of other beaches wasn’t an option.
“The level of staffing required to do so is not in place, and it could potentially cause confusion if we were to only open selected beaches, which could encourage swimmers to take unnecessary risks at other locations if they assumed they had additional patrols,” she said.
“The unseasonable heatwave is out of character for this time of year, with beach numbers traditionally quite low in September and October.
“In the longer term, climate change predicts that such weather patterns will continue to be a trend. It’s something Council is mindful of as a potential need in the future.’’
Opening days and times may differ in the Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama council areas, so residents are advised to check the council websites for information about their local beach or pool.
North Wollongong Beach is open daily between 9 am and 4 pm. At the other 17 beaches, lifeguards will watch over swimmers from Monday to Saturday, and volunteers from Surf Life Saving Illawarra are on patrol on Sundays and public holidays.
The saltwater pools at Port Kembla Pool and the Continental Pool will open as normal, but the reopening of Thirroul Pool has been delayed due to ongoing works on Thirroul Beach Reserve to replace ageing stormwater infrastructure.
The city’s nine rock pools are open year-round, but do not have lifeguard services. The pools are closed for cleaning at various times and the schedule is published on Council’s website.
Helensburgh and Western Suburbs swimming pools will reopen on Saturday. Some of the winter works at Berkeley on the pool’s balance tanks may delay its reopening – further updates will be on the website.
At Corrimal Pool the toddlers and 25-metre pool are closed while Council investigates a pipe issue. Entry will be temporarily free at Dapto Pool due to issues with the heat pump system.
Shellharbour Council lifeguards will begin patrols at Warilla Central Beach, Shellharbour North Beach and Beverley Whitfield Ocean Pool from 9.30 am to 5 pm daily from 23 September. Weekend beach patrols are conducted by volunteer lifesavers.
Patrols change slightly during and after the Christmas school holidays and residents are advised to check Council’s website for details.
Oak Flats pool is open every day between 6 am and 7 pm from 24 September, while Albion Park and Warilla swimming pools will open at the end of October.
Last season Shellharbour City Council patrolled six beaches as well as Beverley Whitfield Ocean Pool, supervising 364,681 people over 214 days.
Council lifeguards were involved in 117 rescues (up from 63 the previous season) using a range of equipment including rescue watercraft (jet ski), rescue boards and rescue tubes.
For more information about beach patrols and pool opening hours visit the Council website.
In Kiama lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers will patrol Surf Beach seven days a week, from 10 am to 5:30 pm on weekdays (council lifeguards) and 10 am to 4 pm on weekends (Kiama Surf Lifesaving Club).
Jones and Werri Beaches will be patrolled on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm.
Beach patrols at North Bombo, Kendall’s, East’s and Gerroa beaches will increase starting 19 December when the summer lifeguards begin work.
For more information about beach patrols visit the Council website.