The region's firefighters and surf lifesavers are on high alert with a run of hot dry weather expected to increase the risk of fire and draws large numbers of people to the Illawarra's beaches.
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a number of continuous days of high to very high temperatures across the Illawarra starting from today.
The NSW Rural Fire Service warned that posed an increased fire risk, particularly with grass and ground fuels.
"While we have had higher than average rainfall over the summer, we have started to see our finer fuels, such as grassland and surface litter begin to dry out over the last few weeks," RFS Illawarra zone manager Superintendent Greg Wardle said.
"These finer fuels will sustain fire, particularly on days of high to very temperatures."
Mr Wardle said land managers who had conducted or were planning to conduct permit burns needed to check their fires were extinguished or delay their planned pile burn activities until the passage of hot weather passed.
"Eligible landowners still need to apply for an RFS permit to undertake hazard reduction burning while we are in the statutory bushfire danger period," he said.
"They also need to notify us prior to lighting the pile burn, otherwise they are in breach of the permit. Our fire investigators are actively looking into illegal burns as they occur and landowners face significant penalties if burning without the necessary approvals."
With COVID-19 restrictions impacting interstate travel, Surf Life Saving NSW is expecting NSW residents to gravitate to the coastline in their thousands.
SLS NSW said the effects of hazardous surf over the last few days remained a factor in planning for all available rescue and emergency response assets to be on standby through until Tuesday.
"Australia Day is one of the busiest days of the year on our beaches and is always a big day for our volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards. With hot conditions and large swells forecast, we have a very simple message for anyone heading to the coast," said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce.
"Enjoy the weekend but make sure that if you're heading to the beach, go to a patrolled location and only swim between the flags."
A mother tragically drowned while trying to save her son on the Far South Coast last weekend while swimming at an unpatrolled location. Since July 1, 2020, there have been three fatalities where bystanders have drowned while attempting to rescue someone caught in a rip. Last Sunday's drowning at Congo Beach was preceded by recent tragedies at Woonona and North Beach.
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