Swimming at Freshwater (NSW 316) started in the early 1900s when campers would arrive for the weekends and holidays. A small creek running out the north end of the beach provided fresh water for the campers and gave the beach its name. Freshwater, one of Sydney's smaller beaches, is just... Read more
Swimming at Freshwater (NSW 316) started in the early 1900s when campers would arrive for the weekends and holidays. A small creek running out the north end of the beach provided fresh water for the campers and gave the beach its name. Freshwater, one of Sydney's smaller beaches, is just 350 m long, however it is also one of the more popular and famous. The Freshwater SLSC was formed in 1907 and boasts a proud history in national competition, and in 1915 it was the site of the first surfboard riding demonstration in Australia. The surf club sits in the centre of the beach surrounded by a fenced foredune, backed by a large park and car park, with Harbord and Queenscliff headlands protruding 400 m seaward. The beach faces southeast and receives waves averaging 1.5 m. These produce three persistent rips, one against each headland, and a shifting rip in the centre (Fig. 4.215 & 4.216). The intervening bar oscillates between being attached during low waves and separated by a trough during higher wave, so that you have to swim across the rip feeder currents to the bar. All this makes for good surfing, but potentially hazardous swimming.
Freshwater is a popular but hazardous beach with an average of 121 rescues each year, but still no lives lost between the flags, so that's where you should swim. If swimming or wading out to the bar watch for side currents. A rock pool is located on the northern platform.
This is where it all started and it still produces good beach breaks, with the southern end best during east and southeast swell with both lefts and rights, while the northern side handles the northeast swell better and offers some protection from summer northeast winds. The official beginning of surfboard riding in Australia occurred at Freshwater Beach in 1915 when the famous Hawaiian swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku gave a demonstration of his board riding skills to thousands of spectators. Forty-one years later when revisiting the surf club following the 1956 Melbourne Olympics he was delighted to see his old board had been lovingly maintained. It still has pride of place at the surf club.
The northern rocks have good access and are the most popular location in this area with permanent gutters along the northern rocks. The beach can produce good gutters, but is often crowded on warm days.Read less
SLSA provides this information as a guide only. Surf conditions are variable and therefore this information should not be relied upon as a substitute for observation of local conditions and an understanding of your abilities in the surf. SLSA reminds you to always swim between the red and yellow flags and never swim at unpatrolled beaches. SLSA takes all care and responsibility for any translation but it cannot guarantee that all translations will be accurate.
General Hazard Rating: 7/10 (Highly hazardous)
Beach Key: nsw316