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Take care around creek mouths

By JENI FAULKNER

SWIMMING season is here and even though this picturesque creek may look calm it is actually a disaster waiting to happen, just ask local surfers and lifeguards. Steve Cleary from Northwall Surf has been surfing for 30 years and has rescued three people from the surf in the past 18 months. "You see people in trouble a lot when you are out surfing, sometimes you will see about four people being rescued a fortnight, it just depends on the swell," Mr Cleary said. "There are so many rescues by surfers each year but you just never hear about them, I'm sure there will be hundreds made this summer." But, despite the warnings, visitors and locals, continue to ignore the warnings and the fear is spreading that swimmers will fall victim to the swell of a creek mouth. The Coffs Harbour City Council senior lifeguard Greg Hackfath said creek mouths are the most dangerous during the falling tide. The main areas of concern are Bonville, Boambee, Moonee and Coffs Creek. "Every kid has done it, even me, you play in the current, jump on a boogie board and float along the creek," Mr Hackfath said. "But it is just so danger- ous if you don't know the risks, people have different strengths and should be careful." Mr Hackfath said surfboard riders were fantastic around the creek mouth areas. "I would hazard a guess that they do more rescues then volunteer lifesavers and surf lifesavers, and all this goes unrecognised," he said. "They are always on the spot, and they are used to it, so if people have to go swimming in a creek mouth it would be wise to make sure there are surfers in the area." People who find yourselves in trouble should raise the alarm by putting up their hand and calling for assistance. "Creek mouths are a popular place to take the family but swimmers play in the shallows, get swept out in the current, lose their footing and panic." Mr Hackfath said the time for concern was dur- ing the Christmas break and king tides. "More water has to get out in the same amount of time and this is when we find people really getting into trouble," he said. It is hoped a permanent lookout will be erected at Park Beach by Christmas to view the beach and Coffs Creek area. Mr Hackfath said there were about 27 rescues at Park Beach last season, 20 around the Northwall and Coffs Creek area.



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