The sand at Wollongong's City Beach was heaving with people across the weekend, after a long run of grey skies at last gave way to blue ones.
The beach's surf lifesavers were kept busy on Sunday, challenged by multiple rips, a tricky change of tide, several stinging creatures, calls for first aid, rescues, one ambulance incident and - all day - all that goes with getting the masses to stay between the flags.
Club captain Shannon Fox finished the day with the quiet satisfaction that comes from knowing everyone went home safe on her watch. But Monday brought a deflating, disappointed feeling, when she returned to the beach to see the people may have left, but much of their rubbish had not.
Miss Fox, 26, has penned an impassioned account that has been widely circulated online, questioning how so many could care so little.
"Often our beach on a Monday morning isn't looking its best," she wrote. "But what I saw today was horrifying. The ridiculous amount of items on our local was demoralising and pathetic ... Safe to say, our volunteer lifesavers didn't have as much time as usual to keep the beach free of the rubbish left behind by its visitors ... And would we want them cleaning the beach or would we rather them watch us and our friends and family in the water?
"Take your rubbish with you, please!
"We try to protect you from the ocean, who protects the ocean from you?"
Miss Fox, who began surf lifesaving at City Beach as an eight-year-old nipper, told the Mercury she had seen the beach trashed before, but rarely if ever to this extent.
"Monday was particularly disappointing. There were a lot of really unusual items - hubcaps, prams, inflatable toys," she said.
"People are just lacking the care that we all need to have.
"If everyone leaves the beach in a better state than they found it, it's not a bad place to start."
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the city had increased its clean-up crews for summer, with morning and evening shifts introduced instead of the usual one-per-day.
Cr Bradbery said the problems associated with mass visitation were likely made worse this year by restrictions associated with COVID-19.
"It's just one of the big problems we confront as a result of people not being able to go away. And the weather, being as it is, means there's some pretty concentrated periods where people are visiting our beaches," he said.
"We have a lot of people who come from backgrounds who don't have an understanding of making use of the resources we have in the community to keep the city clean.
"I just don't want our city and our state looking like a Third World country because people just don't have any concept of responsibility when it comes to litter.
"We've got to continue to get the state government to work with us ... on educating people on better behaviour in regards to litter, and the pressure that's put on our resources and our public spaces at this time of year."