Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
On the south side of Shellharbour a rock platform extends 300 m seaward, and forms the northern boundary of the southern Shellharbour Beach (NSW 383), a curving 1 km south-southeast-facing beach that extends to the base of Bass Point, where the sand merges with the basalt cobbles eroded from the point. A caravan park lies behind the northern rocks, with a beach car park on the southern side. The road to Bass Point runs between the low dune and Shellharbour Swamp, with the usually dammed mouth breaking out across the southern end of the beach during rain. Proposals have been put forward to build a marina in the swamp with access to the sea, but in 2006 the beach remains in a relatively natural state. Waves from the east and southeast are reduced by Bass Point resulting in waves averaging 1 m in the north dropping to 0.5 m in the south. These usually maintain a continuous attached bar, cut by up to six rips during higher southeast swell when a strong rip can develop against the northern rocks, and during summer northeast wave conditions (Fig. 4.312).
The southern end of the north beach is patrolled and provides the best location for swimming. Avoid the rips particularly if swimming up the beach. The harbour beach is unsuitable owing to boat traffic, however the rock pool is not only safe but also patrolled by a lifeguard from Christmas to Easter, as is the southern beach.
There are beach breaks along main beach, while off the southern rocks is a hollow right-hander called Cowries, which works best in moderate east to southeast swell. There is no surf in the harbour but there is a right off the pool called The Pool and a left called Shatters.
Good rock platforms at the ends of each beach, plus beach gutters following high seas, while the harbour has a boat ramp.
Shellharbour is a 400 m wide rocky bay that has been used as a port since the 1850s. Today it is backed by the growing township of Shellharbour, and is bordered by northern and southern Shellharbour beaches. The four beaches (NSW 381-383) occupy 3 km of coast between the northern Barrack Point and the base of the 3 km long Bass Point.