There are fears for the safety of people visiting the famous Wedding Cake Rock in the Royal National Park.
The rock, on the park’s popular 26km Bundeena-to-Otford coast walk, has recently become a social media phenomenon with more than a thousand people visiting it every weekend, lured by images on Instagram and Facebook.
But the sudden surge in traffic is causing National Parks and Wildlife Service staff concerns for visitor safety with park rangers fencing off the rock this week after images were posted of people sitting or standing on its edge overlooking the ocean.
Geotechnical tests are being carried out to check the stability of the sandstone and whether if it can withstand the sudden increase in traffic.
The rock has also been extensively vandalised by graffiti as people leave messages but this has been only in chalk.
‘‘Wedding Cake Rock is getting a massive amount of interest,’’ a NPWS spokesman said.
‘‘It’s become one of those viral social media things.
‘‘It’s gone from being a popular place on the coast track to a major destination.’’
NPWS usually registers around 1700 internet searches a year for Wedding Cake Rock.
This has jumped to 1300 searches in the past four months.
‘‘We are seeing some extremely risky behaviour with Instagram showing people sitting on the edge of the rock,’’ the spokesman said.
‘‘There are two risks: one is overbalancing and the other is the stability of the whole structure.
‘‘It’s not concrete but sandstone and there is a sheer drop to the ocean below.’’
Apart from the fencing, warning signs will also be put up until the results of the geotechnical report is known.
‘‘We want to encourage people to get out there and enjoy the national park but not to take risks,’’ the spokesman said.
Signs at the site already identify that it is a dangerous spot, as are all the cliff edges along the NSW Coast.
‘‘This is a really beautiful location and we encourage people to come and look at the spectacular rock formations along the coast at Royal but the key is doing it from a safe distance from the edge,'' the spokesman said.
In June last year a French student plunged 40 metres off a cliff in the Royal National Park next to Wedding Cake Rock.
The University of Wollongong student, 23, known as Fabian, was hanging from a ledge in the park when the sandstone is believed to have crumbled under his fingers and he fell.
The accident happened on a section of The Coast Track near Wedding Cake Rock. http://www.theleader.com.au/story/2338433/french-student-in-fatal-royal-national-park-fall-may-have-been-taking-photos/
Wedding Rock has its own Facebook page.
‘‘Noooo honestly why would anyone think it is ok to deface such a beautiful icon.’’ - Morrison’s at Bundeena on Facebook.
Fun or danger...do you think people should have access to the rock?