Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Seven Mile Beach (NSW 400) is one of the longer beaches on the south coast, at 12.5 km (7.8 mile) in length, and is part of the Shoalhaven River delta. The large river has been supplying fine sand to build out this beach and its 1.5 km wide low barrier. Because of the fine sand, particularly in the northern end, the beach has a wide low gradient. The northern headland is occupied by the settlement of Gerroa, which was established in the 1920s. At the base of the headland Crooked Creek flows out over the beach, with a long footbridge providing access from a car park and park to the northern end of the beach (Fig. 4.325). South of the creek the road runs inland of the beach to Shoalhaven Heads. A caravan park backs the northern 1 km, then the Seven Mile Beach National Park occupies the central 6 km of the beach and backing barrier. The 898 ha Park encompasses a littoral eucalyptus forest with a ground cover of bracken and Burrawang palms. Road access to the beach is provided in the north, and at the central Berry turnoff which has a large park and shady picnic area behind the beach. Four kilometres to the south is a sandy track through the forest to the beach, with the southern access at the Shoalhaven Heads surf club and car park, and from the riverside car park.
The long beach sweeps in a gentle arc, initially running west at Gerroa in lee of Black Point, then slowly turning to face the southeast and then east at Shoalhaven Heads. Wave energy is lower in the north owing to protection from Black Head and its seaward reefs, including the Big Bommy. Waves average less than 1 m at Gerroa, but pick up quickly down the beach to average 1.6 m down to Shoalhaven Heads. The fine sand results is a wide flat beach in the north with waves spilling over a wide shallow attached bar. However, as soon as the waves pick up a second outer bar develops and runs the length of the beach (Fig. 4.326). The inner bar is usually attached and cut by rips every 300 m. Waves greater than 1 m begin to break on the outer bar, reform in the 50 m wide deep longshore trough and often break heavily on the edge of the inner bar. At Shoalhaven Heads conditions are most hazardous when the river mouth is open, as strong river and tidal currents can sweep along the beach reinforcing the rips and trough currents (Fig. 4.327). The beach is patrolled here by the Shoalhaven Heads SLSC (founded 1955) and summer lifeguards.
The northern Gerroa end has lower waves and usually a wide shallow bar with few rips, however the mouth of Crooked Creek can cause problems during the falling tide when the current runs out to sea. Seven Mile and Shoalhaven Heads are very exposed, rip-dominated, with a deep trough outside the inner bar, and a long swim or paddle to the rip prone outer bar. It is best to stay on the attached inner bar and away from the rips and definitely away from the trough and outer bar. If the Shoalhaven River is open be especially careful at Shoalhaven Heads and down toward the river mouth as a strong tidal channel can run along the beach.
There are many breaks along the beach, with the inner bar in the north offering wide spilling breaks popular with learners, while down the beach 1-2 m waves on the outer bar offer more of a challenge, with the river mouth bars extending a few hundred metre seaward in the south generating a series of distant lumpy breaks. Out on the northern Black Point are two reef breaks, which work in moderate swell. The right is called Av-A-Go Bernie and the left known as Batchies. Further out is a bombora more popular with sailboarders.
A very popular spot, both out on the wide flat and treacherous basalt around Black Head, and all the way down the beach, where the long deep trough, is fished in summer. The Shoalhaven River and river mouth is also accessible in the south.
SLSA provides this information as a guide only. Surf conditions are variable and therefore this information should not be relied upon as a substitute for observation of local conditions and an understanding of your abilities in the surf. SLSA reminds you to always swim between the red and yellow flags and never swim at unpatrolled beaches. SLSA takes all care and responsibility for any translation but it cannot guarantee that all translations will be accurate.