New tech to improve Lake Mac beach safety and amenity

Published on 17 September 2021

Leisure Services Coordinator Business Support Tony Blunden at the remote shark alarm system south of First Creek at Redhead.jpg

New remote shark alarms will operate along popular stretches of Lake Macquarie’s coast from this weekend to help improve beach safety over summer.

Lake Macquarie City Council lifeguard patrols resume from Saturday 18 September at the city’s four patrolled beaches: Redhead, Blacksmiths, Caves Beach and Catherine Hill Bay.

Leisure Services Coordinator Business Support Tony Blunden said a successful trial of remote shark warning systems at Redhead had prompted the installation during the off-season of additional units – one at each of the four patrolled beaches and four in unpatrolled sections of coast frequented by surfers and other beachgoers.

“These are really useful pieces of equipment that allow us to activate shark alarms remotely, as well as issue any other general warnings that might be necessary in a given area,” Mr Blunden said.

“They’re also equipped with cameras, which will help us keep track of visitor numbers.”

Software used with the camera ensures footage collected does not identify specific beach users.

The new beach season also coincides with the launch on Saturday of an online portal where beachgoers can check latest conditions specific to each beach.

Team Leader Beach Lifeguards Lucas Samways said lifeguards would use wireless technology to regularly update information such as water temperature, wind conditions, wave height, the number of lifeguards on duty and any safety issues like rips and the presence of marine stingers.

“That same info will also be transmitted to our new digital boards on display at each patrolled beach, which will replace the traditional blackboard signs we’ve used in the past to show water temperature and other conditions,” Mr Samways said.

“Updating that data regularly and making it available online means people can make informed decisions about which beach to visit and when to go.”

Mr Samways urged beachgoers to use common sense during the COVID-19 pandemic by maintaining social distancing on the sand and in the water, only swimming at patrolled beaches and staying between the flags.

“Our community did a great job last summer of sticking to the rules while at the beach,” he said.

“I’m confident they will be just as good this year.”

Mr Samways added that while lifeguards were not employed to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, they would call police if groups of beachgoers were clearly flouting the rules.

“Lifeguards will definitely be reminding people to do the right thing and abide by the current public health order,” he said.

The beach season continues until Anzac Day 2022, with Council lifeguards patrolling Redhead, Blacksmiths, Caves and Catherine Hill Bay beaches 9am-5pm daily.

For more information about Lake Mac’s beaches and swim centres, go to lakemac.com.au.

 

Remote shark alarm locations


Patrolled beaches:

Redhead Beach
Blacksmiths Beach
Caves Beach
Catherine Hill Bay Beach

Unpatrolled beaches:

First Creek (south of Redhead)
Maneela Street Lookout (north of Blacksmiths)
Hams Beach (north of Caves Beach)
Graveyards (north of Catherine Hill Bay beach)