Is it going to be OK? Last words of missing surfer

"IS IT going to be okay? Is help coming?"

These were the last words Michael Fuller heard from his mate Stuart Butler before he was swept away by waves described as "extreme", "treacherous" and "terrifying" during a coronial inquest yesterday.

Stuart Butler is presumed drowned after being caught in a rip on July 19, 2014, at Cosy Corner, below Cape Byron, with his body and surfboard never recovered despite extensive air, land and sea searches.

The inquest into the disappearance of the 20-year-old Irish tourist heard that the surf was so dangerous at Tallow Beach that day that even the most experienced local surfers refused to paddle out while searches were twice cut short out of fear for the safety of rescuers.

Without those warnings, and with no knowledge of the notoriously dangerous rip that sweeps from Tallow Beach around Cape Byron, within minutes of paddling the trio were being swept towards the rocks below the Cape, State Coroner Michael Barnes was told.

The tourists had met while camping at the Mojo surf camp at Arrawarra, near Coffs Harbour, however, Mr Butler had never had a formal surf lesson and was described as a beginner surfer and not a strong swimmer.

"The rip was stronger than we could manage," Mr Fuller told the inquest.

"A wave took me and snapped my board in two. Stu seemed pretty panicky; pretty scared.

"He looked really tired; he was struggling to take control of his board."

While Mr Fuller clamoured onto a rock platform, Stuart Butler lost his grip as he attempted to undo his leg rope.

Levi Fahrenholtz, who managed to drift with the rip to safety at Wategos, said the three friends would never have entered the water had they been alerted to the dangers caused by the swell.

"I had no idea. I had only been (in Byron Bay) for two days," he said.

"Maybe a flashing light or a siren is needed to warn people if the surf is very dangerous."

Neither Mr Fahrenholtz nor Mr Fuller had noticed permanent signage at Tallow Beach carpark, the Coroner heard, while Snr Constable Colin Jones of Byron Bay police told the court the signage was "inadequate".

People don't notice the first sign when driving into the carpark and the second sign was too small and hidden behind the paid parking ticket station, he said.

IN VAIN: Police and other rescue services scoured Cape Byron for any sign of missing Irish surfer Stuart Butler.
IN VAIN: Police and other rescue services scoured Cape Byron for any sign of missing Irish surfer Stuart Butler. Marc Stapelberg Facebook

After hearing evidence, counsel assisting the State Coroner, Sasha Harding's suggested recommendations were that more surf lifesaving services be allocated for Tallow Beach and that accommodation providers in Byron Bay give daily updates on weather conditions to travellers.

Topics:  editors picks inquest irish surfer

10 years on: Death of four boys 'still so raw'

The memorial along Broken Head Road near Suffolk Park for the Southern Cross LADS.

In tomorrow's paper, we talk to the families about ongoing grief

Civil Dusk success is support for local project

ARIA NOMINATION: Bernard Fanning's latest offering Civil Dusk has been nominated for four ARIA awards this year.

Bernard Fanning's third solo album nominated for four ARIA awards

Swimming spots that could cause vomiting, diarrhoea, fever

Swimmers at the mouth of the Evans River.

Health risks include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, fevers

Local Partners

Quality vealers and weaners with mixture of meatwork cows

300 cattle were sold at Lismore Saleyards on Tuesday.

Emily's portrait of a landscape

ART SHOW: Emily Imeson's Portraits of Landscapes opens tonight. The young artist has been awarded an Arts NSW scholarship.

Artist Emily Imeson is turning the landscape art world on its head

What does 'home' mean to you?

What does the concept of home mean to you. A new exhibition will show what it means to four contemporary artists.

Special guest curators present All New Home

Get your motor running against depression

READY TO RIDE: Left to right: Alan Butler (Motorcycle enthusiast), Jim Butler (Shannon's insurance), Niall Mulligan (Centre Manager - Northern Rivers Lifeline), Chris Chapman (Manager at Plateau Sports Club, Alstonville), Peter Kelly (Major sponsor HSU NSW/ACT), 
Front: Nicholas Kostyn (Event Coordinator CvD)

Motorbike riders making a difference in their community

Selma Blair blames flight outburst on 'psychotic blackout'

Selma Blair

"I am someone who should never drink, and I rarely do"

Picking on the great music

COUNTRY BLUES: The Wilson Pickers - Sime Nugent, Danny Widdicombe, John Bedggood, Ben Salter and Andrew Morris.

Wilson Pickers launch new album, You Can't Catch Fish From a Train

Bob Dylan acknowledges Nobel Prize win

Bob Dylan has finally acknowledged his Nobel Prize win

WATCH: Trailer for Jackman's final Wolverine film released

First trailer for the last Wolverine film with Hugh Jackman.

Thrilling trailer promises a dark, dystopian finale for Wolverine

What does 'home' mean to you?

What does the concept of home mean to you. A new exhibition will show what it means to four contemporary artists.

Special guest curators present All New Home

Pop Crimes committed locally

COMING SOON: Australian artist Rhyece O'Neill.

Inaugural Pop Crimes Festival will be held in Billinudgel

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge

Tenants renting rooms on Airbnb breaching lease

Rental properties.

Tenants renting rooms on Airbnb is a no no

First home buyers smash avo-on-toast excuse

TOASTED: A Coast real estate identity and first home buyers say young people should not put home ownership in the "too hard” basket and eat out instead.

Determined first home buyers can get into market