Tourists warned to avoid top Aussie beach
THERE are calls for tourism operators to stop promoting this stunning stretch of coast as one of the best beaches in Australia.
Dreamtime Beach, near Tweed Heads in northern NSW, recently came third on a list of Australia's best beaches by influential travel site 101BestBeaches.com.
It's also a hit on social media, where Instagrammers share snaps of its white sand, inviting waters and picture-perfect rocky headland.
But the local life saving club is warning the pretty beach is "deadly" and it should not be marketed towards tourists.
The warning follows five fatal drownings at Dreamtime Beach since October 2015, including a death at nearby Fingal Head in February.
"We've attacked the marketing of Dreamtime being the most beautiful beach in Australia," Fingal Surf Life Saving Club administrator Mike Crawley told the Tweed Daily News.
"It has been promoted as a special place, so people who are visiting the country and a lot of overseas tourists think it's all cool to go for a swim and then get caught in a rip and everything goes wrong very quickly.
"Dreamtime is deadly. We have to say to people that it's a deadly beach, don't swim here."
Mr Crawley said the Australian Water Safety Council was working with tourist bodies to stop promoting Dreamtime.
A lack of resources has left the beach unpatrolled, but Mr Crawley said helicopters from Queensland were flying over daily, and the surf life saving club had recently installed defibrillators.
Earlier this year, the club's former president told ABC's 7.30 he had seen Dreamtime's popularity surge in recent years.
"Traditionally it's been a pretty quiet place, but in the last four to five years we're seeing up to 50-seat buses turn up with tourists," Steven Kudzius said.
He said Dreamtime's spot on the Australia's best beaches list was "just going to increase the traffic here, and it's not a safe area for people to swim".
In February, a 22-year-old man became the fifth person to drown in surf in the area since 2015 after he jumped off the neighbouring headland and got caught in a rip.
Tomoe Ogisu, from Japan, had been living in Coolangatta and working in Kingscliff for about four months when the tragedy happened.
The surf conditions were so dangerous drones were needed to help locate the man's body as emergency crews struggled to bring him to shore.
When it named Dreamtime as Australia's third best beach for 2018, the site 101BestBeaches.com said the stretch of coast left "beachgoers wistful".
"It's full of wonderment as a stunning stretch of sand to relax on and really celebrate the senses, refresh the spirit and experience a superb gift of nature in a seemingly faraway setting," the site said.