No safety improvements planned for Mermaids Pool

Rescue incidents at Mermaids Pool in Tahmoor are likely to continue because there are no plans to improve safety in the immediate future.

Wollondilly Council and Picton Fire and Rescue captain Bill Morris are urging locals and visitors not to swim at the site because of the inherent dangers of jumping off the cliff into the water.

Most recently, emergency services were called to the popular watering hole on Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, 29 to winch two females with spinal injuries out of the site.

This summer, the Picton crew have conducted eight vertical rescues. Last summer there were 11 rescues.

In the eight years prior, Mr Morris can only recall two occasions when the crew was called to the site for a rescue.

“I expect we will overtake last year’s number,” he said. “It is hard to get the message to young people who seek an adrenaline rush from jumping off the cliff.

“It is frustrating to be called to site so often because swimmers aren’t getting the message that the site is dangerous.”

The popularity of the site has increased in the past two years, because the pool’s location and beauty have been shared on social media.

Residents voiced their concern about the frequencies of the rescue incidents on Facebook.

Ash Milton said: “I bet they are going to close it off and then no one can enjoy it.”

Eric Third said: “Why should everyone else who swims there or who just go for a bush walk be punished because of a small number of idiots who carry on stupid.”

Chelsea Fisher said: “Closing our beautiful country off is not fair. Locals have been using that swimming hole for along time. It's about using common sense and being safe.”

Jacqueline Benson said: “Put in a ladder, a car park and some bins and most of these problems would stop!”

Wollondilly mayor Judith Hannan and Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell said they did not want Mermaids Pool to be closed because of the site’s natural beauty and logistically it would be too difficult.

“If we close off the area then the swimmers will just pick another spot,” Cr Hannan said.

“The council does everything possible to make the area safe and people need to be responsible for their own actions.”

Cr Hannan encouraged those who posted on social media about the site to warn others of the swimming dangers.

Mr Rowell plans to meet with the relevant parties to brainstorm how to make the site safer.

“Perhaps signage is the answer or better awareness of the site’s dangers,” he said.

“It is not practical to block off the site because I don’t know how or where a fence could be installed.”

Wollondilly Council’s director of infrastructure and environment Michael Malone said the site was crown land and the council was responsible for the day-to-day management of the site.

He said aid the council had installed signs throughout the site but it was not possible to install infrastructure such as a ladder to climb up and down the cliff or rubbish bins because there was no vehicular access for installation or maintenance.

“The council will never say it is safe to jump into the site,” he said.

“People should go for a walk, take photos, enjoy the natural environment and walk out.”

Mr Morris said he personally did not want to see the site closed but believed more controls or signage was needed.

He also encouraged everyone who went to the site to take their rubbish home with them because it became a hazard when a helicopter attended a rescue.

“The amount of rubbish is a disgrace,” he said.

“We have to shove rubbish under rocks so it doesn’t get caught in the updraft.”

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