South-east beaches close en masse as dangerous surf pounds coast

Only three Gold Coast beaches remained open on Saturday. Photo: Craig Golding. Courtesy : Brisbane News

South-east Queensland beaches have closed en masse, with a tropical cyclone near New Caledonia creating dangerous surf and powerful rips along the coast on Saturday. 

More than a dozen beaches were declared off-limits, but lifesavers still had to rescue two men from the water, despite warnings about the dangerous surf created by Tropical Cyclone Gita. 

A blanket closure was enforced on the Gold Coast, with Bilinga, Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads, Kurrawa, Mermaid Beach, Miami Beach, Nobbys Beach, North Burleigh, North Kirra, Southport, Surfers Paradise, Tallebudgera, and Tugun beaches all declared off-limits.

Coolangatta was also closed due to the rough surf. Maroochydore, Kawana, Boardwalk on the Sunshine Coast as well as Point Lookout Main Beach on North Stradbroke were also closed.

Despite the warnings and closures, a 25-year-old male surfer was rescued from the dangerous surf at Burleigh and a 20-year-old male swimmer was pulled from a rip at Mooloolaba. 

Surf Life Saving Queensland Gold Coast duty officer Kevin Sole said only very experienced boardriders should consider entering the water.

“There are waves up to seven feet or higher and lots of rips along the coast,” he said.

“These are very large, very powerful and very dangerous conditions.”

Ms Sole said the weather bureau forecast surf to be even larger on Sunday, so anticipated similar beach closures being enforced once again. Lifesavers were patrolling the beaches to ensure visitors stayed out of the water. 

Meanwhile, dashcam footage captured the moment power lines “exploded” after being hit by a lightning bolt on the Sunshine Coast on Friday night, with more than 200,000 strikes having been recorded in south-east Queensland.

“Watch this absolutely crazy explosion from a lightning strike hitting power lines during the height of our storm chase,” the Facebook post on Higgins Storm Chasing read.

“It was so blinding it took us a while to work out what had actually happened.

“As we continued home to Maleny there was lots of debris including a large tree blocking the road on a blind corner. We managed to hook onto it with the 4WD and pull it off the road.” 

A total of 206,000 lightning strikes were recorded from 3pm Friday to Saturday morning, according to Energex, leading to 29,000 residents without power in the aftermath of the storms.

Energex crews worked through the night, which saw just over 1000 customers left in the dark by Saturday lunchtime.

Parts of the Sunshine Coast recorded 60-70 millimetres of rain and Amberley, in the Ipswich region, received 20 millimetres in just one hour on Friday evening.

Brisbane City saw 26 millimetres fall, while the Three Ways and Highvale alert stations north-west of the CBD recorded 48 and 33 millimetres respectively during 24 hours.