Shire Closing Deadly Cliff Jumping Site at Mount Martha

Published on 05 December 2018

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We have a duty of care to ensure public safety…         

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is set to commence the first stage of closing access to The Pillars, a highly dangerous cliff site Mount Martha, where an increasing number of young people risk death or serious spinal injury by cliff jumping.

Cr. David Gill, Mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council said “following approvals of all necessary permits from the relevant government agencies, the construction of the 450-metre temporary fence along The Esplanade at Mount Martha is expected to commence next week.

“The 450-metre fence will stretch from Marguerita Avenue past Deakin Drive closing off the major entry locations for The Pillars.”  

Cr. Gill said it is important to erect the temporary fence for the summer holiday period, a time of high risk with hundreds of people visiting the dangerous site.

“A more permanent aesthetic fence that would blend into the environment is the longer-term solution and would also allow for the revegetation of The Pillars environment.

“Currently, The Pillars operates as a defacto major tourism operation in a residential zone that does not conform with any Victorian Government Planning, Environment, Health, Pollution or Public Safety Legislation.”

“Over the last three years through social media, the problems at The Pillars has increased dramatically.

“This site has never been set up to support a high level of visitation and basically the Victorian Government, Parks Victoria and the local community have lost control of the situation as a public safety, law and order issue. 

“The site by its very nature is a major difficulty to both police and also ensure public safety which is the major reason for restricting access to The Pillars.”

Cr. Gill said on receiving legal advice recently on the major liability faced by the Council and Ratepayers if someone was killed or injured on the site, the Council voted to close The Pillars on Safety, Legal and Law and Order issues and notified the Government of its intentions. The Council Motion passed Unanimously.

Issues Surrounding Community Safety at The Pillars

Submerged Rocks below Water which varies in Depth

The water depth adjacent to The Pillars varies with submerged rocks in some areas. Combined with varying tides (which visitors are not necessarily aware of) and boats and jet skis in the water, jumping from these cliffs carries a high-risk of injury.

Dangerous Unstable Cliff Edges

Due to erosion created by the high visitation some areas around the cliff edge are unstable and slippery.

Destruction of Vegetation and Erosion of Sensitive Areas

The increased and unmanaged visitation to the site has had a detrimental impact on vegetation, Aboriginal cultural heritage and the environment. This has resulted in trampling and damage to vegetation, erosion of the sensitive environments. 

Fire Trap 

Vehicles parked on both sides of residential streets limit vehicle access through the streets, sometimes prevent residents accessing their driveways, and impedes emergency access to these residential areas. Many properties in these streets are in a designated bushfire prone area. Access for emergency vehicles, particularly fire trucks, is a key concern for residents and emergency response services.

Anti-social Behaviour 

There are reports of frequent littering by visitors to The Pillars, both at the site and in the surrounding residential streets.  Residents frequently find litter on the nature strips and in their gardens. Rubbish bins are currently not provided at The Pillars and public rubbish bins are not provided in the neighbouring streets.

Drunken Behaviour

The consumption of alcohol at The Pillars is a major factor related to reported anti-social and offensive behaviour despite an Alcohol Ban which cannot be enforced.  Litter, broken glass, vandalism to private property, urinating and defaecating in local streets, swearing, fighting and aggressive behaviour have all been reported by residents. These occur both in the surrounding streets and at The Pillars.