Emergency services say they are “putting themselves at risk” by rescuing thrillseekers at a popular selfie spot on the NSW south coast.
An 18-year-old girl dislocated her ankle on Tuesday when she slipped and fell while climbing the cliffs overlooking the Sea Cliff Bridge, north of Wollongong.
The fall sparked a large rescue operation involving more than 25 emergency personnel from Fire and Rescue NSW, Police Rescue, Ambulance NSW and the State Emergency Service.
“We’re seeing spots like the Sea Cliff Bridge, the Figure Eight pools, Kellys Falls and the Wodi Wodi Track promoted on social media,” NSW Ambulance spokesman Norm Rees said.
“People go in and aren’t prepared for the conditions … all of them are young, inexperienced and they get lost and fall over and break their arms or legs and then we have to go in.
“We’re planning ahead because we get so many incidents and we’re putting ourselves at risk all the time.”
Rescuers scaled a 700-metre vertical cliff face to reach the injured woman, who had climbed to a popular photography spot offering sweeping views of the Sea Cliff Bridge.
Visitors often travel through private land, using makeshift paths to reach the ridgeline before posting the directions, and their photos, online.
A nearby paramedical student, Shelby Taylor, heard the woman’s cries and rushed to her aid.
“They were walking just below the track and she lost her footing and fell,” Ms Taylor said.
“We heard them calling out for help but we didn’t realise how bad it was until we arrived.”
Ms Taylor and her friend Ellen Dawson comforted the woman until help arrived.
“They were going to get a chopper but they cancelled the chopper,” Ms Taylor said.
“They set up ropes and tied them to trees and carried her out on a stretcher.
“It was a big operation.”
Lives at risk
Nearby resident John Bouren’s home looks out over the rail corridor.
He said the illegal route was used to reach the clifftop.
“I hear train drivers hit the emergency brakes more and more; one driver was filming people walking on the tracks last weekend,” Mr Bouren said.
“I’ve seen police here every weekend trying to catch these people.
“They just don’t seem to get the message.”
The scenic lookout is accessible by a mixture of council land and a rail corridor.
‘I don’t want a nanny state’: Mayor
Warning signs at the access point alert visitors to the dangers of the spot, but the council has not resorted to more drastic means to prevent access.
“I don’t want to turn this city into a nanny state,” Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.
“There are warning signs and it’s about time people consider the risks themselves of these dangerous locations.
“There are certain no-go areas and that’s one space where they shouldn’t be risking life and limb just to get a selfie.
“It comes back to people acting responsibly as individuals no matter how old you are.”
NSW Police said they would not charge the woman over the incident.