Understanding Inland Waterways

Swimming a water is an ever present part of the Australian summer and treated with respect it can be enjoyed by everyone. It is the perception that Inland Waters are safer than beaches or ocean without the crashing waves and gushing rip currents. At first glance this seems true but it is important to remember that there can be just as many hazards concealed by the smooth and often murky surface of an Inland Waterway. It is always advised that the buddy system is employed (never swim alone) and that you endeavour to inform yourself of any potential risks before you enter . . .

– Before You Enter

The most effective way to be safe when swimming in inland waterways is to observe your surrounds and assess the potential for danger before you enter the water. Hazards are often concealed just below surface therefore it is essential to always be on the lookout for these potential dangers in order to prevent injury before it occurs.

Hazards to look out for before entering the water may include:

– Submerged objects concealed below the surface

– Unstable, undercut or steep banks

– Currents (try throwing a stick in the water and watch how fast it travels)

– Cold water

– Currents

Strong Currents can drag even the strongest swimmers downstream potentially into submerged objects or hazards that can cause injury or harm. When submerged trees, rocks and rubbish can be very dangerous therefore it is best not to swim in fast moving water to avoid any risk of injury. The flow rate of a river or waterway can be observed by throwing a stick in the water and watching how fast it moves. If caught in a current it is best to float on your back and travel downstream feet first and look out for any hazards ahead until you find a safe exit point.

Strong currents can cause rotational currents generally behind rocks or structure that can be very difficult to escape sometimes pinning you underwater. To avoid harm it is best not to swim near structures such as rocks, weirs or waterfalls.

Conditions can change very quickly as a result of flash flooding, it is important to observe the weather report before you go and continually watch the waterway to identify any changes as soon as possible.

– Sunburn

The sun in Australia can be very harsh and can ruin a holiday very quickly causing sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

It is important to remember to where the appropriate sun protection and drink plenty of fluids. Prevention is the best cure.

– Wildlife

Australia’s Inland Waterways are home to many different species of animals that may, or may not, pose a threat to humans – including crocodiles and snakes among others. It is recommended that you should always seek advice to determine whether it is safe to enter the water.


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