LONG running concerns surrounding the management of The Pillars cliff jumping site continue to frustrate Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.
While it acknowledges that the amenity of Mount Martha residents needs to be protected from discarded litter, overcrowded streets, and even occasional abuse from unwanted visitors, there’s no denying they will continue to come – and to climb through, or over, fences to get to the water.
The Pillars remain a major visitor attraction, despite lack of parking or ease of access.
The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said while the shire had “trialed a range of actions as part of a long term Pillars’ management plan, we continue to welcome any ideas for consideration that will help address some of the local challenges”.
During a recent interview on ABC Radio with morning presenter Virginia Trioli, the mayor mentioned the need to “think out of the box” to fix these “challenges”.
“The fence wasn’t working; people were still getting in there,” she said later, referring to concrete blocks, wire barriers and signs erected along the Esplanade during the 2018-2019 summer to keep thrill-seekers at bay.
Police refused to climb the fence to check on alcohol bans brought in by the shire at The Pillars and nearby streets.
The shire has used a drone to monitor the site but adopted no new tactics – possibly because no one has thought of anything “out of the box” – since closing tracks, revegetating areas if clifftop and erecting signs aimed at reducing erosion and warning visitors of cliff instability.
The shire’s website says surrounding streets will continue to be patrolled for illegal parking and fines will be issued wherever possible. Litter will be collected, and shire bins emptied daily during peak season. Officers would monitor visitor numbers and other activities.
Cr O’Connor said any long term management plan would include information about Aboriginal shell middens. “Two … middens were recorded during the 1970s and a further shell midden and artefact scatter have been recorded within 200 metres of the activity area”.
“This is evidence of the significant value of the area in our cultural heritage and living culture.”
She said Aboriginals would most likely have been “jumping off the cliffs” for a seaside frolic over millennia. “It’s just knowledge that I know,” she said.
The shire will continue to work with the community, state government, Victoria Police, Country Fire Authority, Parks Victoria, Life Saving Victoria and Bunurong Land Council to implement actions as part of its long term management plan, the mayor said.