beach and waves


If you are camping on beaches around Australia, there is a good chance you will want to swim in the water. Rip currents can get quite dangerous, especially when you are in the water without the help of surf lifesavers.

Rips are dangerous because they are currents of water that will pull you away from the beach into the ocean. They can do this very quickly even without you noticing before it is too late. Rips also often occur in shallow water near the beach even when the water looks reasonably calm.


Rips are created when waves hit perpendicular to the coastline. When this happens, some of the water retreats under the surface but the majority of the water is split sideways and travels along the coastline. This is known as a longshore current. When two of these currents crash together, they cause a huge volume of water to retreat at a very high speed. This is known as a rip.


The most obvious sign of a rip is a visible gap between the waves. You might well think that this gap between the waves is calm but in actual fact, you could be facing a rip current.

Another sign of a rip is dark coloured water because the strong current often disturbs the bottom. The water closer to the beach often appears darker. If you see debris in a linear fashion heading out to sea, you definitely know you have found a rip current.

Some other points to know:

• Sandbars and jetties greatly increase the risks of rip currents.

• Rip currents can also be caused by weather systems many kilometres away.

• Some beaches, like Bondi Beach, are well known for their rip currents.

• Rip currents can come and go.

The danger when camping in remote locations is the fact that surf lifesavers are not about. Swimming on remote beaches can be dangerous even without rip currents. I can only say that you must beware at all times and get an eye for spotting rip currents because swimming in rip currents is quite dangerous even for experienced swimmers and surfers.


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Jackson Williams

Jackson Williams has been fishing around Australia for 20 years and loves his home region of far north Queensland.