Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Birdie Beach (NSW 268) trends 8 km southeast from the end of the rocks 1 km south of Wybung Head, south to the beginning of the rocks of Norah Head (Fig. 4.155). It is known as Red Ochre Beach along the northern section in Munmorah State Conservation Area, Birdie Beach then Budgewoi Beach for most of its length, and Lakes Beach in the south around The Lakes SLSC, where it faces due east. The beach has two sand forelands, one 3 km down the beach where wave refraction round Bird Island causes the beach to build seaward, and then in the south at Jewfish Point which has formed in lee of rocks and reefs and where the beach terminates (Fig. 4.156). The beach is backed by a relatively undeveloped barrier that widens from 200 m in the south to 1.5 km in the north, with Lake Munmorah and Lake Budgewoi behind. The beach is accessible in the northern Red Ochre section at Freemans camping area and Tea Tree picnic area. Two rough tracks lead to Birdie Beach, with access improving between Budgewoi and Lakes Beach where there are three car parks and walkways over the dunes.
Waves average 1.6 m along the Red Ochre, Birdie and Budgeowi beaches (NSW 268a,b,c), dropping to 1 m along Lakes Beach and 0.5 m at Jewfish Point. The surf zone reflects this transition. In the north and centre large rips dominate the inner and outer bar, with the inner bar separating during and following high seas to produce a continuous longshore trough containing rips and rip feeder currents. Inner bar rips average 300-400 m in spacing, while on the outer bar they usually exceed 500 m. A strong permanent rip also runs out along the north headland.
Along Lakes Beach (NSW 268d) a single, usually attached bar continues south to Jewfish Point, with rips spaced every 300-400 m. The rips decrease to the south with often a continuous attached bar at Jewfish Point. However when waves exceed 1.5 m a strong south current and rip can sweep toward Jewfish Point. The Lakes SLSC (founded in 1953) and lifeguards patrol the southern section with roving patrols up as far as Red Ochre.
This is a long, often isolated and rip-dominated beach, so use care when swimming. Best along the patrolled Lakes section, where wave area also lowest. Be very careful if swimming at Red Ochre, as large rips dominate with a permanent rip against the northern rocks.
Red Ochre is a popular spot with surfers and works best in moderate east to southeast swell, and offshore or light winds, with numerous beach breaks down the beach.
The northern rocks lead to the popular Wybung Head, while numerous shifting gutters persist all the way down the beach. The beach gutters are fished for bream, flathead, whiting and tailor.