A Northland couple holidaying in Australia have seen first hand the devastation caused by a storm battering the New South Wales coastline.
Neville and Gai Edge, of Whangarei, landed in sodden Sydney on Saturday and headed 26km south to the coastal city of Cronulla, to visit family.
The damage was evident with tops of trees ripped out and cars squashed by fallen trees.
"It was real wild. The wind was blowing a hurricane and nearly strong enough to blow you off your feet," Mr Edge said from Australia yesterday.
A tiki tour along a safe beach-side road revealed massive waves crashing into the beach walls at Cronulla.
"They were huge, way too big to surf," said Mr Edge, who has lived most of his life beside the sea at Whananaki South.
Media across the Ditch reported that waves as high as 12m had caused severe erosion at Sydney's beaches and some houses were at risk of collapse.
Emergency workers in Australia had attended hundreds of callouts during the storms and abnormally high tides, and warned people not to try to walk or drive across flooded roads.
Mr Edge said boats had been washed off moorings and ended up on the beach inside a harbour.
On Monday they travelled by train to Newcastle where Mrs Edge was to attended a nursing reunion. The storm damage was also evident there. The storm waters had washed across a road into the garages of homes. "Everyone is coping and in clean-up mode."
Mr Edge said huge ships carrying coal were banked up and could be seen on the skyline as they waited for the sea conditions to improve before they could offload their cargo.
The huge waves had begun to drop with a change of the wind yesterday, Mr Edge said.
"The sun's out today and it looks like things are improving."