Avid water users and a crowd of spectators gathered at Lake Cathie to witness the lake opening to the ocean on Wednesday, July 11.
The opening created a strong current which attracted both surfers and body boarders to the location.
An excavator was used to clear a path to the ocean further south than the previous channel, in an effort to protect the recently replenished foreshore from high seas and tidal surges.
Lifeguards were present to ensure the safety of onlookers.
“We’ve turned up today with a much larger crowd than expected,” Port Macquarie lifeguard supervisor James Turnham said.
“Obviously all the locals and tourists here are excited for the lake to be open but it is very dangerous when this (opening) occurs.
“There is going to be a huge flow of water gushing out into the surf.”
James was urging people to think ‘safety first’ and to know their abilities.
Recent rainfall led to the early artificial opening of Lake Cathie to the ocean, after it was originally scheduled to take place at the end of July.
The decision came after a number of residents expressed their concerns about the water level impact on surrounding properties at the location.
The lake’s water level had risen beyond the 1.6 metre opening trigger point.
Council director Melissa Watkins said the safety of residents and protecting nearby homes and infrastructure from minor flooding was of the highest priority.
“The great news for our community is that the lake will be open during the school holidays, and with the foreshore now replenished, this beautiful area will continue to be a popular destination for locals and visitors,” she said.
“While the opening of the lake is exciting, the force of the water rushing out can be unpredictable and we encourage everyone to keep well away from the channel and to exercise common sense.”