Surfing the Great Lakes + Clever Tips from BeachGrit

Who needs a treasure map to unlock this bright stretch of coast from Forster to Byron Bay, with its conga line of beach breaks and the occasional reef? The hunt is as satisfying as the kill.  

But. We can’t let you come in blind.  Here’s a little advice on getting what you want, surf-wise.  

beachgrit cellito beach

1. The coastline is marked by headlands. Know what that means? Yeah, it’s offshore… somewhere. Those summer northerlies that destroy open stretches of sand and make the ocean look like a ski field of white? Come and surf in the lee of the southside of a headland. If it’s a winter southerly, or a southerly buster in January, switch sides.

2. All those lakes? Come after heavy rain when certain… mmm… lakes, or maybe just lake (there’s a hint), are dug out to release excess water and, oowee, watch as sand-bottom points are created overnight.

Shopping in the Heart of
Coffs Harbour

3. Hire that four-wheel-drive. Long, long stretches of beaches where rangers aren’t going to rain hellfire. You gotta get out by dark but those summer days, with the tailgate down, the thump of a sweet soundtrack hitting the speaker grills, and empty peaks. Can life be improved?

4. Stare down a shark. I remember once, a dear friend writing about seeing a shark while surfing at Bluey’s Beach. He didn’t windmill paddle to the beach. He stuck his head underwater and stared at the majestic, beautiful, apex predator until it fled.

5. Ride a performance shortboard. They just fit here.

6. Live at the base of sand dunes. I’m giving away a little secret here. There’s a hidden caravan park at the base of a mighty dune at Treachery, just south of Seal Rocks. Climb dunes to reveal two-click long beach. Lately, the park has been building modernist cabins that sleep six and cost less than three hundred a night. Ready for the back half of summer. Or pitch your tent for twenty a night. Either way, you win.

7. Got a kid? Take ‘em to Number Ones, the soft point at Seal Rocks.

beachgrit cellito beach

8. You like warm, but not too warm, water? A little up on Sydney, but not as stifling as summer on the Gold Coast? Welcome to paradise!

9. Open your mouth and ears. Talk to local inhabitants about where the best sandbanks are. I mean, don’t ask straight up, that’ll close the door, but talk in general terms until the curtain is peeled back.

10. One secret: if you come in on a good-sized east swell, surf every reef and beachbreak in Forster and across into Tuncurry. Stare down any curious sharks.

beachgrit cellito beach


Five Of The Best…

1. Cellito Beach

Follow the dirt road past Smiths Lakes, take a five minute walk through the lush rainforest and you’ll arrive at a surf break, also known as Sandbar. The water is crystal clear and produces great left and right hand breaks. Oh, and dolphins love to surf here too. 

2. One Mile Beach

A succession of beach breaks on One Mile keeps board-riders content most days of the year. The south end is patrolled by surf lifesavers and a good bet for families and visitors with limited experience.

beachgrit cellito beach

3. Seal Rocks

The beach, views and water are breathtakingly beautiful. Number Onebeach faces north providing a good surf beach with a rocky headland walk. When it’s not on here, Boat Beach, Lighthouse Beach and Treachery Beach are an alternative.

4. Boomerang Beach

Not just a cool name, Boomerang or Boomers is a solid beach with good rights and lefts. Awesome spot to get amongst it in your waterfront seat or just to put your toes in the sand and watch the action.

5. Haydon’s Rock

When the swell is big, look no further than this reef break. Haydon’s Rock sits quietly most of the year but when an east coast low hits, it pumps bringing local wave-riding wizards and spectators alike.