Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Bar Beach is better known by the names of it's three Surf Clubs - Cooks Hill, Dixon Park and Merewether. It is surrounded by long established inner Newcastle suburbs and has excellent road and bus access, with large car parks adjacent to the three Surf Clubs. In addition two rock pools are located on the rock platform at Merewether. The Surf Clubs were formed in 1911, 1932 and 1910 respectively, attesting to both the long popularity of this beach and its inherent bathing hazards. The entire beach is 1.3 km long, faces the south east, receives waves averaging 1.6 m and is bounded by wide rock platforms, backed by high cliffs. Rocks and reefs also occur on the beach and in the surf at either end and at places along the beach, particularly following beach erosion. The waves and sand produce a high energy beach characterised by an inner bar usually cut by 8 beach rips with permanent rips at either end, the northern at Cooks Hill being the more prominent. Rips occur every 200 to 300 m along the beach, with one against the Merewether rocks intensifying when waves exceed 1 m. Higher waves break on an outer bar and the northern and southern reefs, the latter called 'The Ladies'. The result is a wide surf zone with waves often reforming in the channel to break again on the inner bar.
A popular but potentially hazardous beach owing to the prevailing beach and headland rips. The three Surf Clubs rescue on average 27, 29 and 44 people each year respectively, a total of 100 for the beach. So be careful and stay between the flags which are there year round. Watch for the rips and stay on the attached portions of the inner bar. If still unsure swim in the rock pool.
This is the home beach of four time World Surfing Champion Mark Richards and the site of international surf contests so it must have something to offer. The beach does offer good beach breaks particularly on the outer bar during moderate swell, and when its bigger The Ladies reef at Merewether produces good rights up to 3 m and will hold a south east swell up to 5 m.
Permanent gutters run out past the rocks at each end, with usually several good gutters along the beach.
This is Newcastle's most popular beach both for families, bathers and surfers. The beach is moderately safe, the surf however is better suited for surfing that bathing. However with three Surf Clubs there is ample patrolled areas to provide safer bathing.