Do not risk your life for a photograph!
I took the journey from Melbourne to Sydney to visit the Royal National Park South of Sydney. I had originally planned to visit two locations within this National Park but upon checking conditions of one I decided it wasn’t worth risking my life to document others risking their’s.
I didn’t actually realise it was a long weekend in Sydney and upon arriving to the National Park I was greeted with signs that they would be capping entry if it was full.
I was heading to a location that I had seen gaining a bit of traction in the media called Wedding Cake Rock which is located on the Great Coastal Walk.
I arrived at my location, read the signs about the walk, marked my location on google maps and went back and packed my gear, it was the need to pack EVERYTHING as it was approx a 8km round trip.
I set off on this walk with most gear in my bag, but kept a camera out just in case. As I walked I was surprised at 10am how many people were out and about. Trail runners, bus after bus loads of tourists and visitors that would pass me in waves as I documented my journey.
The long walk along the coast is nothing short of breathtaking. The views across the oceans and the water breaking into the shear cliffs below makes it one of the most spectacular walks I have ever been on.
As I approached Wedding Cake Rock at first I was the only one there. I had the chance to explore it on my own and take some photos and then wait.
After half an hour, small groups of visitors came by, read the signs that said : $3,200 fines and “Do not risk your life for a photograph!”. At first people read the signs, took their images through the 1.5metre fence and either kept walking on the trail or returned.
After an hour, I was beginning to think the location was a bust, but also people thought I was with Parks NSW, with all the gear I was carrying. I hid some of my gear and waited.
It was getting close to midday, and I thought it wasn’t going to happen, I started to pack up my gear, but I could see more and more people on the track, so I decided to hang around for another half an hour.
The first group of visitors arrived. They read the signs, laughed and took selfies with the signs. Climbed onto the fence, took some more images and I thought ok thats it. Then they looked to see who was around and in a blink of an eye 2 were over the fence, another group arrived and straight over they went. Group after group, now had no hesitations jumping over the fence.
I watched them climb over, walk out onto the rock complaining how windy it was. They would sit on the rock, have friends take selfies, swap phones etc. It was almost completely and utterly ego driven.
At one point while I was there a small to the south piece broke off, maybe a foot (30cm) piece and feel into the ocean below. Parks NSW reports that the rock was tested and only had a life of 10years before it would fall. Its now 3 years into that study.
If you look at the hashtags on Instagram #weddingcakerock or the geo tag you will discover each and every day social media is flooded with selfies taken on the rock where people have knowingly endangered their lives for the shot. So is it really worth risking your life for a photograph?