By MAX TILLMAN
A 21-year-old backpacker has died falling from a cliff in Sydney’s east, marking the second tragic fall in five months, following the death of a 27-year-old Sydney woman in August of last year.
Madelyn Davis, from Lincoln in the UK, died last Sunday morning after leaving a party with friends to watch the sunrise from a cliff face near Diamond Bay Reserve in Vaucluse.
It is understood Ms Davis scaled the protective fencing surrounding the cliff, and was attempting to take a ‘selfie’ (self-portrait photo) when she fell to her death at approximately 6:30 am on Sunday.
Ms Davis’ passing comes five months after a 27-year-old Sydney woman lost her life at the same location on August 17th last year, with witnesses telling police she may have also been attempting to take a photo at the time.
“The best we can do is warn people that jumping the fence does put their life at risk,” Waverley Council Mayor Paula Masselos told City Hub. “All we can do is make sure that we’ve met our responsibilities as a council to warn people as much as possible. But at the end of the day, it is up to individuals to abide by the rules.”
Barriers to Entry
In June last year, Waverley Council passed a motion to crack down on thrill-seekers risking their lives for a ‘selfie’ at Diamond Bay. The council had considered ways to restrict or deter movement around the area, including the installation of CCTV, better physical barriers and multilingual signage.
“We’ve increased range of patrols, we added height to the barriers, we’re actually reviewing some of the signage and we’re going to be making bigger signs,” said Masselos.
“We’re also undertaking a risk assessment now as well as waiting for the police report.”
In July 2018, further south, at Cape Solander, Kurnell, an American tourist fell to his death while taking a ‘selfie’, just six weeks after another tourist slipped and fell from the same area.
The similar tragedies raise an important question of safety for tourists upon Sydney’s picturesque stretches of coastline, and whether the spectacular views are worth sacrificing for greater barriers of entry.
To Waverley Council, striking that delicate balance between beauty and safety is one of the biggest challenges ahead.
“We don’t want to have that area completely inaccessible or block it off, because it is beautiful,” Masselos said. So we want to make sure that whatever we do, we will keep the integrity of the beauty of the place.”
Despite the best efforts of the council to deter thrill-seekers from failing to heed the warnings and scaling protective fencing, Masselos believes there is little else the council can do.
“We’ve increased range of patrols as well, but we actually have people not listening to the rangers when they ask to move on. But short of that, I don’t know if there’s much more we can do actually,” said Masselos.
“No selfie is worth risking your life.”