By LILY BURNSIDE
Social media has been blamed for a council decision to close down dangerous local attraction The Pillars after it was flooded with visitors.
From October 9 , the council decided to “declare the site a prohibited area” and “introduce a watercraft exclusion zone” around the perimeter of the site, according to minutes of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
In a recent report in the Mornington Peninsula News, Port Phillip regional director Kelly Crosthwaite said the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning was still undecided about helping with temporary fencing to secure the site.
The Government was “currently reviewing the information provided by council [on] construction of a temporary fence and will continue to work closely with council to resolve this matter”, she said.
This decision to close the area – a popular cliff jumping area – was made because of the council’s concerns about liability if anyone was to seriously injure themselves while the Pillars was under the management of the Mornington Peninsula Shire.
This was brought to the attention of the council by Macquarie Lawyers on September 13.
Local residents had brought the council's attention to the area, complaining of a range of problems. They said it was a dangerous thoroughfare for young pedestrians through a windy patch of road, rubbish was left all over the site, people urinated in the streets because of the lack of facilities, and cars were causing congestion in the side streets.
The council and the locals blame social media.
Social media spokeswoman Ebony, from Mornington Council's tourism arm Visitmorningtonpeninsula.org, said the site had become really popular "because of social media".
Social media could be a good way for travellers to find hidden gems, but this area wasn't safe.
"We would discourage people to go there because it's a safety risk and the concerns of the people who are living in that area. We would suggest they go to safe areas, where they can also have fun."
However, not all Mt Martha residents think the area should be closed for good. Kelli Lundberg said: “I would love to see it actually opened up, and to have a boardwalk.”
Ms Lundberg said a cyclone fence built to deter young people from coming to the area, might just end up “draw[ing] more of an undesirable crowd who would like to jump the fence”, as well as giving them privacy behind the fence to get into more trouble.
The council touched on the topic of building a boardwalk in a previous meeting on the Pillars, however there had been no results from the investigation into the idea.
With youths still breaking into the area via secret paths and jumping fences it is unlikely that the issue will ever be fully resolved, phones in hand the adrenaline seeking teenagers will continue to post pictures of their treacherous cliff dives attracting more likes to their photo and more visitors to the Mount Martha Pillars.