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Bushfire smoke over Forster Main Beach, one day...
... and the next. Up there, somewhere, is farther up the North Coast. Smokey Cape, for one.
- Goin' up the country: How you can help the fire zones
- Bushire relief: Where to donate
- The beauty that is Shark Island
- Swim Groups: Meet the Peninsula Ocean Swimmers
- This weekend's entries: Mona Vale
- Tonga: Just 4 spots left
- Swipe gogs: 40 and all's well
- 2020 oceanswimsafaris
- Controversy Corner
- Swims open to online entry
- Odds 'n Ends
Swims this weekend...
- Fri, Jan 17 - Mornington (Vic)
- Sat, Jan 18 - Kurnell (NSW), Warrnambool, Portsea (Vic)
- Sun, Jan 19 - Mona Vale e, Tathra - cancelled (NSW), Sorrento (Vic), Coolangatta (Qld), Perth (WA), Hamilton (NZ)
Goooin' up the country
What you can do to help the bushfire zones
Everyone knows by now that the bushfire season in Strãa began this summer in late winter: August, according to some authorities. One report on the ABC tonight referred to bushfires "five months ago". And bushfire season isn't even supposed to kick off till February. By late November-early December, the fires were raging through the NSW North Coast and parts of Queensland; a few weeks later, they were laying waste to the Sarf Coast and eastern Victoria. We were in Forster, on the lower north coast of NSW, in early December, when they were burning around there. All roads north were cut and, for a while, the road south from Forster was, too, with an outbreak on the southern edge of town that lasted, thankfully, only a day or so.
North of us, we watched, bemused, as the smoked billowed for weeks from the hinterland between Nabiac and Taree and the coastal communities from Old Bar, near the mouth of the Manning River, down to Black Head and the Failford Rd. The Failford Rd area, which links the highway north of Nabiac with The Lakes Way and Forster, already had burnt a few weeks earlier. Green shoots were emerging when we went back in early December, still amongst patches of flame and smoke. Then it burnt again.
We’d wake in the mornings, up an’ at ‘em for early morning swims with the Forster Turtles, to find the town shrouded in smoke, the sun a golden ball in the east, the residential towers hiding in the clouds. Prior to the tourist season, over Xmas and New Year, there was an eerie silence about the town, like you were walking through a bombed site. Over days, the ash would line the beach and discolour the sea. To the north and west, even if there was a hint of blue sky above, the landforms disappeared into the smoke.
Eye of the curl.
We were back there after Xmas. The height of the tourist season. There were punters in town for their annual hols; there were jet skis roaring around the Wallis Lake estuary and offshore around the shark detection booee; there were famblies stalking the streets at night walking off their dinner. But it was possible to get a restaurant booking, which is pretty much unheard of at this time of year in places like this. The tourists were there, but nowhere near as many of them. We judge the holiday crowd by how easy it is to get a park in the street outside our joint, and there was never a problem this year. Usually, it’s a struggle. The holiday towers, never solidly occupied at the best of times, were largely in darkness, and it can’t all be due to, as our cobber, marathon swimming legend, inventor, and local hotelier, John Koorey, reckons, “because they all go to bed early”.
Places like Forster suffered over this Xmas period, which is, normally, the time when so many of the businesses around town generate their revenue. And Forster wasn’t even directly burnt, apart from that brief blaze on the edge of town. The fires prompted many usual holiday visitors to these coastal, holiday communities to stay at home this year. It wasn’t just a matter of not wanting to get in the way; it was also a matter of their personal safety. Why would anyone consciously take their families on holidays to a live bushfire zone? And even after the fires have burnt out, these zones remain dangerous with the risk of falling trees and contaminated water. And some of them recover better and more quickly than others. On Twitter during the week, Bruce Robertson posted a pic (see right, pic by Bruce Robertson @barobertson111) of the burnt bush near Bobin, nor'-west of Taree, and where, a month after the fires, still there are no green shoots. As Bruce observed, "The lack of regrowth on the ground is remarkable. No green shoots. Not even tiny little ones. Rain will bring terrible erosion". Small businesses all over the joint are reporting "no revenue at all" this "holiday season", and it is this season that is the reason for their existence.
Whither are we drifting, indeed.
We can help
Pity those communities that also rely on the holiday trade but were directly burnt: your Black Heads and Tallwoods and your Old Bars; your Bermaguis and your Batemans Bays; your Mogos and your Cobargos; your Tathras; your Merimbulas; your Malacootas and your Lakes Entrances.
But don't just pity them. Think about what you can do to help. The cries are going up: Please come and visit. We’re still open. We need your business.
Ocean swimmers can help. Whilst we’re in the peak of the season in the big city, the country ocean swimming season is about to get going: autumn, by when, we’d hope, surely, the fires would have died down and it should be safe to visit those areas, without getting in the way. The last thing those fighting the fires need, after all, is eejit holiday makers blocking the roads.
So, all us ocean swimmers, providing conditions allow, let’s all do our bit to help these regions recover: let’s get out of the cities and our own towns and visit places where fires have laid waste, and help these places recover by giving them our business, and letting them know we care. Make sure that it’s safe to visit before you go. Perhaps contact the awgies and make sure that, for example, there are places to stay and you won’t be getting in the way. Check the local tourist offices. One presumes that, if a scheduled swim is still on, then it’s ok to go.
Here’s a guide to swims in bushfire areas and other regions not too far away –
- Jan 18 – Tathra – Scheduled for this weekend, but already cancelled, sadly. "We cannot guarantee the safety of our volunteers, many of whom are helping victims of the fire, or our visitors," the awgies say on their website... Click here
- Mar 8 – Broulee – Near the fire damage coast around Batemans Bay and south, this is a swim that we’ve always wanted to do: main event is 1.4km around the rock shelf… Click here
- Mar 8 – Wollongong – A bit out of the fire zone, but much closer to the city if you’re strapped for time… Click here
- Mar 22 – Gerringong – Already postponed from its original date of January 5 due to bushfires, Gerringong wasn’t burnt, but it was badly affected by smoke and ash. It’s one of our fave swims… Click here
- Apr 4 – Mollymook – Like Gerringong, and Broulee, and Tathra, and so many country swims, Mollymook is a stunning beach also with a particularly beautiful informal swim course around the rock shelf…. Click here
- Apr 5 – Shellharbour – Also not directly affected by fire, but certainly affected by smoke, and a normally popular holiday area, this, too, is a stunning swim around a rock shelf… Click here
- Apr 11 – Nowra Culburra – Easter Sat’dee. We don’t wish to repeat outselves, not too much, anyway, but what a beautiful area this is, and one of the most beautiful swims you’ll do, from Culburra beach around Tilbury Headland into the cove, wending your way through little reefs as you schlepp along… Click here
- Jan 26 – Ballina – Sheltered swim in a bay off the Richmond River, on the Far North Coast, this swim makes a return after a couple of years not running… Click here
- Apr 5 - Coffs Harbour – A long-running event in the Coffs, er, harbour, this year in its first outing under Sawtell surf club… Click here
- Apr 5 – Forster – We’re biased, but this is one of the most “epic” events you will ever do: the main event, just over 4km from One Mile Beach, around Bennetts Head into Forster Main Beach. Lots of sea life in this area, and lots of different kinds of water. Everyone should do this swim at least once in their careers… Click here
- Apr 12 - Pacific Palms – Easter Sundee, and a tradition for holiday makers spending Easter on the lower north coast. You’ll see punters here whom you will see maybe only once per year. Such clear water, Pacific Palms – Elizabeth Beach – is one of those gems of the North Coast: a north-facing beach, which means its sheltered from all the nasty weather… Click here
- Apr 11 – Terrigal – Also not strictly in a fire zone, but, like Wollongong, highly accessible from the city. An Easter Sat’dee swim… Click here
- May 3 - Byron Bay -- The "State of Origin" of ocean swimming, which punters coming from far and wide, even overseas, to swim the Bay. For our money, the best swims at Byron are the informal swims on Fridee, Sat'dee and Mondee: meet at the surf club deck in tiem for 8am departure for a walk along the beach to The Pass, then swim back, then cuppa... These swims are bigger than most city swims. It oozes ocean swimming culcha… Click here
- ? - South West Rocks -- No info about dates for this year (we've just guessed on our calendar, some time in April). We don't hear much from the awgies these days. But the Rocks offers some of the clearest water in which you'll ever swim… Click here
The eerie haze of a smoke-filled sky: Forster, early morning swim.
Most Victorian country swims have happened by now -- Warrnambool is this weekend; Port Campbell on February 2 -- or they're not in a fire zone. These two weren't burnt, as far as we know, but they're lovely trips in the country
- Feb 2 – Daylesford – Popular weekend spot, not in the current fire zone, but a regional area handy to the city… Click here
- Mar 7 – Lake Nagambie… Right up in the country... Click here
We know of no swims on Kangaroo Island, apart from the informal groups organised by local media titan Stan Gorton. That's reason enough to visit... Click here
- Jan 26 - Esperance - Australia Day Swim. Lots of first nearby and we're sure they'd appreciate your support... Click here
- Apr 11 - Albany - Easter Sat'dee swim -- Another swim where, we're sure, they'd appreciate your support... Click here
- Apr 12 - Denmark - Easter Sundee -- Some beaches are so remote, so untouched, they emit a siren's call drawing you to them. We've never been to Denmark beach, just west of Albany, but we'd love to go there one day... Click here
Be aware, authorities have issued warnings about dodgy appeals, such as through cold calls, door knocking, etc, and online, so you should ensure that whoever you donate to is legitimate. We feel the best way to do this is via the ABC Appeals web page that has been set up to list many legitimate appeals. Go there, and make your choice... Click here
Shark Island, Cronulla
The beauty of Shark Island
Organisers of the Shark Island Swim Classic, at Cronulla in Sydney, say...
The 2020 Shark Island Swim will be bigger and better than previous years, you may ask why? In 2019 we had great success with running the swim from Cronulla Park, what we learned from the outdoor festival atmosphere is ‘Ocean Swimmers love the environment’ and being in it! This year we have a very similar set up with a large marquee in the park for information, late registrations, collection of timing bands, caps etc. The Cronulla Cray Nippers will be running a BBQ throughout the morning selling an array of egg and bacon rolls, sausage sandwiches and drinks. There’ll also be an apparel tent selling 2020 T-Shirts, singlets, caps, stubbie holders and 10 litre waterproof dry bags.
The Shark Island Swim is one of the eastern seaboard's great swims, if you want to experience the underwater beauty of Shark Island and its surrounding reefs under the watchful eye of our Cronulla SLSC water safety team, this is the way to do it.
Follow the link to our YouTube channel to watch a ‘Drones eye view’ of the 1km Beach Swim and 2.3km Shark Island Ocean Challenge:
We also have a Facebook page that we update regularly with information in the lead up to race day:
Please have a look and follow us for updates.
For online entries, race information, merchandise sales etc please visit:
Thank you, the Shark Island Swim Committee and Cronulla SLSC
More info and to enter online... Click here
Meet the Peninsula Ocean Swimmers
This week's swim group are the Peninsula Ocean Swimmers at Umina, on the NSW Central Coast.
Send us a group pic of your swim group. Make sure it's a good sized pic (say, 1500px wide, 500kb-1mb) to allow for editing... Click here
Warriewood at the far end, Mona Vale closer, Bongin Bongin Bay in the foreground. It's Glistening Dave's stamping ground.
Two swims at Mona Vale -- do the new 900m Little Swim, then hop on the free shuttle to Warriewood for the 2.2km back along the beach into Bongin Bongin Bay.
This is a "Family, Friendly Swim", as the organisers style it. The start of the main event can be rambunctious, in the break at Warriewood, but it's usually a short break, and it's not difficult to get out. Then follow the coast to Mona Vale, around the rock shelf -- you may even spy Glistening Dave shooting his snaps as you whiz past (it's Dave's home beach) -- into Bongin Bongin Bay to the finish.
Online entries close at 3pm on Saturday, January 18.
More info and to enter online... Click here
Tonga - Just 4 spots left
Swim with the whales
Here's a heads-up: our Tonga oceanswimsafari has only four spots left. We can take only eight swimmers/towel carriers at a time with us to Tonga. This makes this oceanswimsafari especially suitable for small groups, as well as singles and couples. If you'd like to share in this extraordinary experience, contact us quick and smart... Click here
Selene Swipe, still no probs
We've sold many, many of the new View Selene Swipes since we launched them just prior to Xmas, so many, in fact, that we're close to sold out of most colours. New stocks are expected around the end of February, but if you want to get yours now, don't delay.
Our personal usage stands now at 40 swims, and still good vision. From about 29 swims on, we found a little fog creeping into our right lens, but when we swipe our finger gently over the inside of the lens, it goes. We've also found that, if you wash your gogs gently with dishwashing detergent, air dry them, and keep them clean, in their case, this, too, helps enormously, but that's true of all gogs.
The Selene has long been our most popular gog. A year or two back, View introduced a mirrored version of the Selene, and now they also offer the revolutionary Swipe version, offering anti-fog capacity that lasts 10 times as long as existing goggles, the makers say. The Selene Swipe has technology in its interior lens coating that allows you to clear fog from the lens simply by "swiping" your finger across it.
According to the makers, the "10 times as long" refers to distance they say you can swim before you start to see some fogging with new goggles. They say the standard is 4km, but the Swipes will go 40kms. Whatever, all gogs will fog if you don't respect them and look after them. The issue also is how to deal with the fogging if and when it does occur.
Selene is one of the best value gogs you will ever find. And made with an extra wide silicone seal, the Selene is probably the most comfortable low-profile gog you'll find, and it doesn't leave you with Rocky Raccoon marks around your eyes. The Selene Swipe offers anti-fog performance that's 10 times longer than normal, and a swiping lens durability offering 1,500 swipes without degrading performance.
Selene Swipe comes in Blue (BL), Light Blue (CLB), Lavender (LV), Black (BK), Bronze (BR).
Find out more and order Selene Swipes... Click here
View have just now advised us that they are raising prices for most of their gog and swim accessory lines. The rises are small, and View gogs remain amongst the lowest priced and best value gear on the market. Compare them with other "high profile" brands: there really is no comparison, particularly considering their quality. We've been wearing View for more than 20 years, and they've never let us down.
June 12-20 – The Philippines – Swim with whale sharks in another paradise of some of the clearest water of the greatest marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region… Click here
June 23-July 1 – Sulawesi, Indonesia – More of the clear water and great marine biodiversity at the other end of the Celebes Sea from our Philippines location. This is a place that hardly any Strá’an visits. It’s pretty well just us... Click here
A tender scene by la Concha, San Sebastián.
July 20-28 – Tonga - Swim with the Whales – Only four places left in our oceanswimsafari to swim with Humpback whales (above) – One of the most unusual, special experiences you can ever have swimming in the ocean. The humpbacks migrate over winter from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth and generally frolic around. Tonga is one of the few places in the world where we’re allowed to get in the water with the whales… Click here
August 25-31 – San Sebastián, Spain – Swim the Basque country, with its rich mix of culture, food, and history. And the swimming’s terrific, too. That's San Sebastián, above -- A romantic evening on the bay of la Concha... A must-stop during anyone’s trip to Europe… Click here
September 12-20 – Costa Brava, Spain – Swim Catalonia, and France to Spain around the end of the Pyrenees. Another journey through history, art, culture and food, and some of the clearest water you’ll ever swim in… Click here
October 20-25 - Mana Fiji SwimFest - Packages will be ready soon... Watch this space… Click here
October 26-Nov 2 - Yasawas Fiji - Packages are online now… Click here
- Jan 19 - Mona Vale (NSW, 2.2km, 900m)
- Jan 25 - Nobbys-Newcastle (NSW, 2km)
- Jan 26 - Newcastle Harbour (NSW, 1.4km, 700m)
- Jan 26 - Palm-Whale (The Big Swim)
- Feb 2 - Cronulla - Shark Island (NSW, 2.3km, 1km)
- Feb 9 - North Bondi (NSW, 2km, 1km)
- Feb 16 - Malabar (NSW, 2.5km, 1km)
- Feb 23 - Bondi (NSW, 2.1km, 1km, 50m, 4km Beach Run)
- Mar 8 - Wollongong (NSW, 2km, 800m, 400m)
- Mar 9 - Port Noarlunga (SA, 2.5km, 1.5km, 750m)
- Mar 15 - Stanwell Park (NSW, 2.3km)
- Mar 22 - Gerringong (NSW, 1.8km) - Postponed from Jan 5
- Mar 22 - North Steyne (NSW, 2.8km, 1km)
- Mar 28 - Palm Beach-Shelly Beach (NSW, 27km, 10km, Solos and Teams)
- Apr 4 - Coogee-Bondi (NSW, 4.5km)
- Apr 5 - Balmoral (NSW, 5km, 2km, 1km, 200m Jr, 4 x 200m Relay)
- Apr 5 - Coffs Harbour (NSW, 2km, 600m, 300, 150m)
- Apr 5 - Coogee (NSW, 2.4km, 1km, 800m Jrs)
Coming soon - Mollymook (Apr 4)
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