Accolades keep flowing for the Illawarra's coastline, with several local beaches in the running to be crowned NSW's most environmentally friendly beach.
Wollongong, North Wollongong, Warilla and Coalcliff are among 32 beaches around NSW that will be assessed this week by Keep Australia Beautiful for awards as part of the Clean Beaches program.
After passing through a nomination process, beaches around the state will be graded on a host of measures, from environmental protection and waste management to water sustainability and community partnership.
"The awards recognise individual endeavours to protect and enhance coastal communities across the state," assessor Colin Besley said.
Mr Besley, from Sydney Water, is assessing beaches across Sydney and the Illawarra this week, and will be in the region on Thursday to see our beaches first-hand.
"Coastal groups or councils send in nominations, then we meet with them at the beaches so they can give local knowledge of the area."
The Illawarra, no doubt, has reason for confidence when the awards are announced in Sydney on December 13. A recent State of the Beaches report, published by BeachWatch, graded water quality at all 13 Wollongong beaches as "very good" or "good". Warilla and Wollongong beaches received the highest ratings, while North Wollongong received a "good" ranking.
The quality of Illawarra beaches is no secret, but that is not the only reason for diving in for a swim. Sea temperatures are much warmer than average for October, with the mercury pushing an almost balmy 22 degrees in local waters last weekend.
"Sea temperatures on the east coast have been very warm in recent months, with the northern parts of Australia seeing the highest temperatures on record," said Julie Evans, a meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology.
"Water is warmer than average in Wollongong, with warm tropical water coming down with the East Australian Current."
Waters would stay around the 21-degree mark until Sunday at least, according to the Bureau.
Clean, warm water and the October long weekend brought droves of people to Wollongong beaches, according to Wollongong Surf Life Saving Club president Michael Jennett.
"Given the good weather, we have had higher-than-average numbers of visitors to the beach, and Sunday also coincided with the first Nipper activity for the year," he said.
"Warm temperatures have been more consistent than in previous years but we typically do have good early and late season days."
Seems like there are a long list of reasons to ditch the work attire for boardshorts and sit on the sand instead of the couch.