Plans are afoot to build a fence to deter selfie-seekers from the cliffs at Sea Cliff Bridge, after a teenage girl in search of a precarious "secret lookout" was injured and required a risky medical retrieval operation.
On Wednesday Heathcote MP Leigh Evans and Wollongong councilor Leigh Colacino applied for $30,000 from the Premier's discretionary fund to build a fence at the Cifton site, which has become a magnet for social media users who clambour onto unstable cliff ledge to take photos against the snaking, ad campaign-style bridge backdrop.
Mr Colacino said Tuesday's costly medical rescue, where 27 emergency services workers were involved in retrieving an injured 18-year-old girl who had fallen within 30cms of the crumbling cliff's edge, showed the risk the practice was posing to visitors and first responders.
"We need to do better to protect our emergency services," Cr Colacino said.
"The rock there is not like real rock - sandstone or marble or granite. It's a very crumbley sort of rock, and it just falls away from itself. [Visitors] are running a risk of continuing to slide all the way down the side of the cliff because it's like being on a bed of marbles.
"Will [a fence] be the 100 per cent deterrent that everyone would like? I'd be surprised. But we've got to make an effort to say to people, 'this isn't safe', because currently people don't know where that point of no return is."
Clifton residents say selfie-seekers have long trespassed on the rail corridor and made makeshift paths to vantage points on the cliff, but that the problem became worse than ever at the weekend, possibly due to a relaxation of isolation rules.
Mr Evans said he hoped state funding would cover the cost of a new fence as well as signs to alert visitors to the fines they faced for straying onto the bridge-side land, which is managed by Transport for NSW.
"It's frustrating trying to communicate with these people. They are just on Facebook, in their own little world. As long as they get a photo, that's all they care about." said the MP, whose electorate covers several tourism drawcards in the Royal National Park that have similiarly become victims of their own social media success .
"You really can't fine them unless there's a clear warning. This is the issue. If we get a clear warning that this is not the thing to do, then we can enforce it.
"Fine them, and fine them hard. Once that gets on social media, that will stop it."
Wollongong police attended the site five times between Friday and Wednesday, after receiving reports that people were trespassing and putting themselves at risk for the sake of a "selfie"
Wollongong Police District Commander, Superintendent Evan Quarmby said police were concerned that pictures posted from cliff vantage points only encouraged others to make the same precarious climb.
"Members of the public need to be aware of the risks to their own lives and others' safety by engaging in activities such as taking 'selfies' in dangerous locations."
"It not only risks serious injury or death to the person in the photo, but also to others who gather at the dangerous areas - such as cliff tops - to observe the activity.
"Police officers are the ones who have to inform relatives that their loved one has died as a result of these irresponsible activities."
According to a rail source, train drivers are forced to slow down "on a daily basis" when passing the Clifton site because of visitors illegally walking through the rail corridor to access the cliff.
A spokesman for Transport for NSW said train drivers were obliged to operate at lower speeds until they could confirm the corridor was clear.
Rail trespass is punishable by a $5500 fine. The department did not respond to the question of whether any fines have been issued at Clifton.
"We work closely with Police Transport Command and local councils to target and deter reckless behaviour, and provide CCTV footage to help identify risk takers," the spokesman said.
A spokesman for Wollongong City Council noted some signage at the site already warns people of the dangers.
"Longer term, we are focussed on continuing to work with Transport for NSW and actively discourage people from visiting this area using any of the informal pathways," the spokesman said. "This work is ongoing. "