Australians love the water, but it can be a deadly affair.
Two hundred and eighty one people died in Australian waterways between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, down from 339 the previous year.
Seventy-six people drowned in rivers in the past year, with waterways in the NSW topping the kill list.
The top river drowning black spots across Australia have remained steady over the last decade with the Murray River in SA, VIC and NSW, the Yarra River in VIC, the Hawkesbury River and Murrumbidgee River in NSW and the Swan River in WA accounting for the top 5.
Rounding out the list are the Nepean River, Parramatta River, Georges River, Clarence River, Macquarie River and Goulburn River in NSW, and QLD's Brisbane River and Ross River.
Royal Life Saving's general manager of drowning prevention Craig Roberts said safety at inland waterways remains challenging.
"To have lifeguards at a known spot inland is not easy ... not every swimming spot is suitable for lifeguards," Mr Roberts said.
"Many of these [drowning] cases are in isolated areas and from people travelling up and down the river, so not in a stationary location."
While beaches are protected in part by patrolling lifeguards looking out for people in trouble, this is not an option when it comes to riverside safety.
Mr Roberts said given these challenges, the Royal Lifeguards are focusing on education programs and interventions, like the Outback Lifesavers.
"We've got a number of safety messages and school programs that target the specifics of residents in and around rural and regional areas.
"There is responsibility individuals can take too. Consumption of alcohol in water, going to locations yourself, or not having adequate safety equipment like life jackets when you're paddling down the Murrumbidgee."
Seventy seven per cent of drowning deaths were male.
Mr Scarr said men should avoid making brash decisions - particularly as they age.
"We urge men to make the right call, and avoid alcohol and drugs around water, check the conditions and avoid over-estimation of swimming ability," he said.
"Older adults should understand the potential impacts of other medical conditions and medications on water activities including swimming and boating.
People living in outer regional, remote and very remote areas are twice as likely to drown as those in cities.
Surf Life Saving Australia chief executive Adam Weir said 66 per cent of coastal drownings occurred more than 1km from a Surf Life Saving service as people continue to seek out more secluded swimming spots.
"Rip currents are the number one coastal hazard and are a contributing factor in almost a quarter of coastal drowning deaths," he said.
"Tragically, there was a significant increase in bystander rescuer drowning deaths, and drowning deaths at beaches were 29% above the 10-year average.
"Surf Life Saving is appealing for the public to understand their limitations and swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags."
Flag locations are available on the Surf Life Saving BeachSafe App.
The full report is available on the Royal Lifesaving Australia website.
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