Instagram image taken at Wedding Cake Rock in the Royal National Park south of Sydney. Photo: Instagram
The warning couldn’t be any clearer: “Do not risk your life for a photograph”.
But visitors to Wedding Cake Rock in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, are not getting the message and continuing to risk their lives for an Instagram worthy photo.
From handstands, selfies and couple shots, the picturesque land formation has become a popular setting to snap a daring photo, but authorities have had enough.
From this weekend, park rangers will have the authority to issue on-the-spot fines of at least $300 for sightseers who ignore the warning signs, jump the fence and risk their lives for a picture.
Speaking to news.com.au, regional manager of Metro Southwest National Parks and Wildlife Service, Gary Dunnett, said daredevils thought the rock looked solid and safe, but the reality was the formation was at great risk of crumbling into the sea below.
“People look at this pure white rock, and they think it’s as stable as concrete,” Mr Dunnett said.
“But the white appearance is because oxides and other contaminants that are usually in the stone matrix are bleached out of it, and the result is that the rock is much more fragile than other coastal clifflines.
Wedding Cake Rock in Sydney. Photo / Supplied
In 2014, French student Fabien Ardio fell 40m to his death after a nearby sandstone cliff crumbled away. The 23-year old’s girlfriend and six others were with him at the time of the tragic incident. In November last year, two men had to be winched to safety after falling from the iconic cliff top onto a ledge below.
The formation was closed off from public access in May 2015, after a surge in popularity saw tourist foot traffic rise from 2000 people per month to more than 10,000 visitors over the same time period.
A geotechnical survey of the rock conducted one month after fences were put in place revealed Wedding Cake Rock was incredibly unstable, with formation likely to collapse within the next 10 years.
“Usually when you get a geotechnical assessment, you’ll get a probability of something happening within the next thousand years,” Mr Dunnett told the ABC at the time of the survey.
“To get one back telling you that collapse is likely within a decade is really unusual.
“It’s very much a testimony to the unusual nature of the rock at wedding cake which of course is also its attraction.”
Mr Dunnett said he hope the fines won’t deter people from visiting.
“From now to winter is the best time of year to visit. It’s nice clear days, the coastline is long, but the simple reality is – the few square metres which has the fence around it is not the place to stand.”