Thousands flock to PACKED beaches across Sydney for Australia Day celebrations in the sun – as councils are forced to close car parks by 10am
- Car parks at at least five major beaches were closed as temperatures soar
- One Twitter user said there was no beachside parking by 6.30 this morning
- Many beaches were at capacity by 10am, with traffic causing major delays
Thousands of people have flocked to Sydney’s beaches to celebrate Australia Day as temperatures surge beyond 40C.
Car parks at Balmoral Beach, Clifton Gardens Reserve, Chinamans Beach, Royal National Park and Clontarf Reserve have been closed, with beach goers asked to rethink their plans.
One Twitter user said there was no beachside parking left when they arrived at Balmoral Beach at 6.30am.
‘I had to park in a backstreet. Walked past and had a quick chat with a few people planning on being there all day, just getting in early to reserve a spot,’ the Twitter user wrote.
NSW Surf Life Saving chief executive Steve Pearce said beaches along the state’s coast were already packed by 10am on Tuesday, with many nearing capacity.
Pictured: People flocking to Cronulla to celebrate Australia Day, as temperatures surge beyond 40C
Sunday was a test run for authorities, one of the busiest days in years, with 250 rescues and 750 first aid treatments.
With high temps, the big swells, the large crowds, Tuesday will be even bigger, he said.
‘We have all our assets out on the water – every jetski available, every rubber duck, we have our Westpac rescue helicopter in the sky, and we have our drones flying everywhere as well.’
Six people have drowned in NSW in the past eight days, while another two men drowned in separate incidents in Victoria on Saturday.
A man who was snorkelling died after being pulled from the water at Narrabeen on Sydney’s northern beaches on Monday, while emergency services are searching for another man who disappeared while snorkelling near Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast.
A boy was also pulled from the water unconscious on Monday in Sydney’s northwest and taken to hospital in a critical condition.
‘We’re tracking for a really tragic summer,’ he said.
‘Statistically, every Australia Day one person will drown along the NSW coastline.’
‘That’s the reason why we’re on such high guard today… we know it’s going to be operationally frenetic.’
Pictured: People celebrating Australia Day in Cronulla, as beach car parks around the city reach capacity
Drownings are 2.4 times more likely to occur in Australia on public holidays.
NSW Ambulance’s Kay Armstrong said call-outs over the weekend were double the average level, and urged people to stay hydrated and look out for each other until the heatwave subsided.
BOM NSW manager Agata Imielska on Monday told reporters that Australia Day temperatures in western Sydney would top 40C, but coastal areas would benefit from a sea breeze, reaching about 35C.
‘Tomorrow we will see a change move across (NSW), starting across the south, bringing cloud and rain in the morning to southern areas,’ she said.
But the cool change may not reach Sydney until late on Tuesday evening.
Canberra will have temperatures in the low 30s on Australia Day before a late shower.