Ballina Mayor David Wright says Ballina Council has ‘done everything the Coroner asked us to do’ in trying to prevent accidents and tragedies at Dalwood Falls but that ‘if people are going to climb a 1.5 metre-high barrier covered with signs, we can’t stop them’.
The comments follow the police discovery on Sunday (April 8) of the body of a 30-year-old Alstonville woman at the base of the falls.
Inspector Suzie Johnson told Echonetdaily there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the woman’s death.
Cr Wright said the council had drawn up management plans for Killen and Tosha falls – including paths, parking and toilets – but Dalwood, with its high cliffs surrounding a waterhole, proves too difficult for council staff to manage.
‘We’ve tried everything possible – we’ve put up signs and sent rangers out there – but nothing seems to work. No matter what we do, if people want to use it, they’ll use it for whatever purpose,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘At the moment, nobody can observe it, so we’re looking at what else we can do.’
Council resolved in March last year to place the site on the market and simultaneously entered into discussions with the Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council about it taking over management of the falls.
Asked whether that wouldn’t just be transferring the responsibility to a body with even fewer resources, Cr Wright said the Jali had expressed an interest in a possible caretaker arrangement as the land was sacred to them.
‘They don’t have to take it on, and we haven’t reached an agreement with them at this stage, they’re still discussing it.
‘There’s also the possibility that people might respect it more if its an Indigenous site.
‘At Killen Falls and Tosha Falls you have lookouts, or you can go in the water, but this one they actually jump into the waterhole.
We’ve cut all the trees down that people used to swing off, we’ve done everything the coroner thought was the right thing to do,’ he said.