Australian beaches are some of the most beautiful places in the world. But they can be risky if you don’t take proper precautions. But Australian beaches are safe – or rather can be. Whether you’ve been to the beach before, or it’s your first time on a coastline, Australian beaches can and will take you by surprise. Even locals get caught up in bad situations, but it’s tourists (especially overly confident ones) that end up in the most trouble. So if you’re heading to Australia soon, I urge you to read this guide about what you can do to make your visit to an Australian beach safe!
Swim Between the Red and Yellow Flags
The most important thing you can do to make your visit to Australian beaches safe is swimming between the red and yellow flags. The red and yellow flags are placed on the beach every morning by the local lifeguards and lifesavers to indicate to bathers where the safest place on the beach is to swim. This does mean it’s the busiest place on the beach, but it’s for a good reason. This is also the area that is most closely monitored by the lifeguards and lifesavers, so even if you do get into trouble, it won’t be for long.
Even the strongest locals swim between the flags; it’s something drilled into us from a very young age. No matter how strong you are, no matter how many beaches you’ve been to, heed these flags. Australian currents are swift and sudden, and you aren’t familiar with spotting the sudden changes and rips. Rips are swift currents that will drag you out to sea before you even realise what’s happened. If you choose not to swim between the flags not only are you risking your own life, but the lives of the lifeguards and people around you who have to come rescue you.
No Flags? No Swim
Head down to the beach at sunrise or sunset for some amazing atmosphere and some excellent Insta-worthy shots. But if you’re there before or after the lifeguards and the flags are gone, don’t give in to the temptation of a wee dip. Wade in up to your ankles, fine. But please, don’t go any further. It isn’t worth your life!
Also, just as an aside, no matter how calm it seems, don’t swim at nighttime. There’s a lot of marine life out there that won’t be pleasant to come across in the dark, even rips and currents aside. If you’re in North QLD you might even encounter a crocodile!
Always Listen to Lifeguard Instructions
You may think you’re fine, but if a lifeguard asks you to come back to shore, or move further down the beach, do it. Again, you’re not trained to recognise the signs of dangerous surf and currents. If you’re being asked to move, it’s definitely for your own safety.
Don’t Touch the Bluebottles
If you come to a beach and there doesn’t seem to be many people swimming, there’s probably a reason for it. There’s reasonable odds that reason is bluebottles. A kind of jellyfish, bluebottles are a common summer visitor to East coast beaches. While they’re unlikely to kill you, bluebottles can quickly ruin your holiday if you find yourself in contact with them.
I’m about to share with you the best advice I’ve ever received regarding bluebottles.
If you do find a bluebottle has attached itself to your swimsuit, stay calm and break the tentacles. Yes, this will mean your hands will cop some of the venom. But, it also means your overall sting injuries will be less major. If the tentacles stay attached to you, the little bastard will just keep dragging along behind you stinging you over and over. Once you’ve extracted yourself from the tentacles, remove any tentacles that remain by washing them off in seawater or by picking them off. You can apply ice to help with the pain, but mostly just time will cure what ails you!
Drink So Much Water
Like, a stupid amount. More than you think you’ll need. Especially if you’ve had alcohol in the last 24 hours or are currently consuming it. On that note, remember that drinking in a public place (not a licensed venue) is frowned upon and / or illegal depending on what part of Australia you’re in. So just… be subtle?
Slip, Slop, Slap
Slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. The Australian sun is unforgiving af, and melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia. Every year, skin cancers account for 80% of new cancer diagnoses in Australia, PLUS 95% of melanoma is caused by sunburn. So I mean, if you’re here for a short time you might not get cancer, but just take that under consideration – especially if you’re pale! In any case, a nasty sunburn can cause significant discomfort and other health concerns like heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Also, Slip, Slop, Slap was a song that aired on TV from the 80s well into the 90s and has now made it’s way to YouTube. Ahhhh the memories. There’s a new version that includes seeking shade and sliding on some sunglasses but I refuse to recognise it (though that is also good advice).
Agree Upon a Place and Time When Separating
If you’re heading into the surf and leaving your friends on the beach, make sure you agree a time when you’ll return. Choose a landmark where you’ll meet, whether it’s the lifeguard tower or a weird looking tree in the event you get separated longer term. When there’s hundreds of people on the beach it’s very easy to lose your friends, so avoid the panic and plan ahead!
Anything I’ve missed? Let us know below!