Beaches nearing capacity as Sydney swelters
Thousands of Sydneysiders have flocked to the coast as the city swelters through another heatwave, forcing the closure of carparks and leaving popular beaches nearing capacity.
The Royal National Park reached capacity before 10am with the beaches of Wattamolla, Garie and Bonni Vale closed.
Waverley Council urged beachgoers to head south for a swim as North Bondi Beach neared capacity and space on the sand remains limited at Coogee and Maroubra although the beaches are yet to be officially closed.
Randwick City Council told constituents that beach car parks were full by midday but numbers on the sand were still within COVID safe limits.
Car spots were also hard to come by on the Northern Beaches with council urging people to avoid the area.
"Happy Australia Day! Please be aware our beaches are crowded - expect capacity car parks and traffic congestion," it said in a statement.
"Our aquatic centres are also full with queues to get in.
The mercury is soaring towards 40C but Sydney is set for a 10C change this evening when a southerly change sweeps through around midnight.
Western Sydney is set to cop temperatures of up to 41C while 36C is forecast for the eastern suburbs.
The southerly change will bring increased swell from Thursday. Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Misa Funkai said the windy conditions will also drop the temperatures by 10C.
"The change will happen around midnight. By the time you wake up tomorrow it will be completely different," he said. "It will be cool and overcast with top temperatures in the mid 20s for Sydney."
Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott urged everyone to stay safe on the beaches after a grim four-day period on the NSW coast which included four drownings, 303 rescues, 1200 first aids and 15,560 preventive actions by lifesavers.
One life lost on our beaches is too many and leaves a lasting impact on the community and the Surf Lifesavers who dedicate their time to keeping everyone safe in the water," Mr Elliott said.
Those in Gunnedah in the state's north east have found a different way to beat the heat.
There were more than 100 participants in the town's annual raft and craft race - which has competitors race down the river into town.
"The race goes for about 2.4km. There are a couple of people who are quite competitive but most people float on down," race organiser David McCann said.
"There were a few creative ones. A couple made out of old gallon drums, there was an old trampoline with tractor tubes attached."
"It's been going for about 30 years now, it's always a laugh."
Originally published as Beaches nearing capacity as Sydney swelters