Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sunshine Coast to review signage at fatal swimming hole

Sunshine Coast Council has announced it will review a popular but unpredictable local swimming hole in a bid to improve safety of visitors to the location following the death of three people at the site in recent years.

Council is calling on the community to share their ideas on ways to improve signage at Gardners Falls, in Maleny, to help encourage safe behaviours.

Local Division 5 Councillor, Winston Johnston said Gardners Falls attracted thousands of visitors each year.  

“Council doesn’t actively encourage swimming at the falls,” Cr Johnston said.

“Swimming in a natural water body is always a risky activity with variable water conditions and a range of unknowns.

“Unfortunately, there have been fatalities and injuries due to this.”

In November last year, emergency crews were called to the location after a 24-year-old man died in a suspected drowning.

“The deceased swung out on a rope into the waterhole shortly before he disappeared,” a Queensland Police spokesperson said at the time.

His death was the third in three years. A 40-year-old Nepalese man died at the falls in Janurary 2021 after jumping off the rocks and failing to resurface. A 15-year-old boy died at the falls in 2019 after his body was pulled from the water. 

Cr Johnston said Council was trying to get the balance right between helping people manage their own safety in this location and preserving the beauty visitors enjoyed.

“We’ve put forward some new signage ideas as a starting point for discussion to better communicate the risks of visiting and swimming at the falls.”

The draft signage aims to prompt thinking about the risks of visiting this area and include calls to secure valuables, keep a constant eye on children and consider swimming ability and unseen, submerged objects , he said.

There are also two ‘must-have’ warning signs. The location of the signage is also up for discussion.

The Council is working closely with local emergency services to identify access improvements during an emergency.

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