FROM A DISTANCE: Surfers tackle the swell at Main Beach and Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay.
FROM A DISTANCE: Surfers tackle the swell at Main Beach and Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay. Marc Stapelberg

Huge surf attracts big crowds in wake of cyclone

ALMOST all Northern Rivers residents bunkered down over the weekend as Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oma battered the shores from North Queensland down to Coffs Harbour.

 

But that didn't stop many surfers, excited by the cyclonic conditions, from flocking to beaches along Byron's coast in anticipation of good waves, with Clarkes, Belongil and Main beaches drawing huge crowds of onlookers.

Huge swells and king tides have caused severe erosion to Byron Bay beaches with all beaches along the Byron Shire to remain closed until further notice.

At Yamba a teenage boy was rescued in massive surf by swimmer Erik Fink, who saw the boy caught in a rip and dragged out to sea.

"I thought if I don't help him now, two minutes later and he'd be gone," Mr Fink said.

Mr Fink supported the boy while they battled the rip for half an hour before being thrown a surfboard that helped their return to shore.

A crowd watching the raging seas applauded and cheered as the pair clambered up on rocks and to safety.

Compounding dangerous surf conditions, gale force winds caused mass power outages across NSW and Queensland. On Friday homes at East Ballina were without power for hours as strong winds bought down powerlines.

In the area between Lower Bottle Creek, Mallanganee and Mummulgum, there were 48 properties without power, with 12 in Suffolk Park and 18 north-east of Uki yesterday.

Aa total of 5077 homes were affected in several power outages across the Sunshine Coast and Noosa.

Oma was downgraded to a sub-tropical low yesterday and was moving northwards into the Coral Sea, but the weather system was still causing dangerous coastal conditions from the Queensland border down to Coffs.

The pattern was bringing onshore winds and showers to parts of NSW east of the Great Dividing Range.

BoM Northern Rivers predicted a high (70 per cent) chance of showers today, tomorrow and Wednesday with south-easterly winds 20 to 30km/h decreasing to 15 to 20km/h in the evening. The temperature was expected to drop to 17-20C.

Despite the downgrading of Oma, the NSW State Emergency Service would continue to monitor dangerous surf and gale force winds on the North Coast.

NSW Police Force, Marine Area Command advised people should stay out of the water and avoid walking near surf-exposed areas. It said boats planning to cross shallow water and ocean bars should consider changing or delaying plans.