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Huge surf at NSW beaches

RAW VISION: Dangerous surf and waves of up to 10 metres are battering NSW beaches, tempting surfers and body-boarders into the water.

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IT seems as floodwaters rise, commonsense often recedes, according to rescue authorities.

Over a 24-hour period on Monday, the NSW State Emergency Service rescued about 34 people. The majority had deliberately entered floodwater by foot, car or boat, despite warnings to stay away from nominated roads and beaches.

We have had a couple of people that didn't evacuate, until water went in their door. 

The following incidents occurred when people chose to test nature's force:

Teenagers brave the heavy surf at Collaroy Beach in Sydney's northern beaches.

Facing danger, head on … teenagers brave the heavy surf at Collaroy Beach. The SES says people are putting their lives at risk. Photo: Mick Tsikas

An experienced surfer, in his 60s, mistimed his jump off the rocks at Avalon Beach on Tuesday morning and was washed back onto the rocks. Paramedics treated the man for suspected spinal injuries and for lacerations to his head. He was taken to Mona Vale Hospital.

A couple on a boat near Elizabeth Island, near Grafton, ignored advice from the SES on Monday to leave or move their vessel because they were in an unsafe area. Their anchor broke and the couple had to be rescued by an SES flood boat at 4am on Tuesday.

In Lismore, three rescues in a row took place on Monday evening for people who had driven into floodwaters and become stuck. As the SES team finished one rescue and were called straight to another, they didn't get to go back to base.

Storm clouds over Tamarama Beach. Click for more photos

Wild weather

Storm clouds over Tamarama Beach. Photo: Anthony Johnson

  • Storm clouds over Tamarama Beach.
  • A man photographs the heavy surf at North Curl Curl in Sydney's northern beaches.
  • A man and his dog watch heavy surf wash up at Collaroy Beach in Sydney's northern beaches.
  • Picture taken down at Cronulla, around 10am.
  • A cold front moving into Sydney, photograph taken from Sydney Park, St Peters.
  • Big surf off Tamarama.
  • Teenagers brave the heavy surf at Collaroy Beach in Sydney's northern beaches.
  • Surfers take on the large swells as storm clouds gather at Coogee Beach after winds and rain battered Sydney last night.
  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge is seen as the remnants of Cyclone Oswald pass Sydney.
  • A man prepares takes photographs of the heavy surf at Collaroy Beach in Sydney's northern beaches.

Stormy weather didn't deter one man from canyoning in the Blue Mountains on Monday night. After a search-and-rescue mission, the 26-year-old was found on Tuesday morning near Bowens Creek and treated for mild hypothermia and dehydration. He set off a personal locator beacon in the Mt Wilson area just before 7pm on Monday.

An SES spokesman, Philip Campbell, said more than half of the people rescued had entered the waters against advice. The consequences could be ''deadly serious'' as floodwater can be deeper or faster flowing than it looks, with potential debris, chemicals and viruses, he said.

"Our volunteers love helping people, they're not judgmental but there is a degree of disappointment that we have with people who make a decision to deliberately enter into water," Mr Campbell said.

SES spokeswoman, Samantha Colwell, expressed frustration at people who put lives at risk and didn't heed advice. "We have had a couple of people that didn't evacuate, until water went in their door," she said.

Surf Life Saving NSW spokeswoman, Donna Wishart, advised people to stay out of the water on Tuesday, including experienced surfers who have been heading out despite beaches being closed. They underestimate their abilities or the conditions, she said.