Beautiful spot's deadly past
THE POPULAR swimming hole near Nimbin where a 14-year-old boy died on Saturday has claimed the lives of three people in recent years and caused serious injury to many tourists and backpackers, according to locals.
In 2003 a Canadian tourist drowned when he became trapped under a submerged ledge at Hanging Rock Falls at Wadeville and had to be extracted by rescuers using poles.
While trails leading to the popular swimming hole are on Crown Land, it remains unclear just who is responsible for the site.
While the Wadeville Reserve Trust manages the area surrounding the swimming hole, treasurer Michael Lambrechtsen, said the swimming hole itself remained in a legal ‘no-mans land'.
He acknowledged the dangers of leaping from the rope-swing at the popular swimming hole and urged every one using it to exercise extreme caution.
“The rope has been removed in the past but it always mysteriously comes back,” he said.
Long-time local resident, Neil Lord, agreed, saying Hanging Rock Falls had been a popular spot for tourists since the 1940s when busloads of visitors regularly travelled from Evans Head and Ballina.
“The rope has been there for about 40 years and has been removed and replaced several times,” he said.
Several locals, who asked not to be named, said a privately erected sign warning of the dangers at Hanging Rock Falls and alerting visitors that people had died there in the past, disappeared last year and nobody was sure who had removed it.
Another said the helicopter had pulled many victims out with spinal injuries and there was about one accident per day during the summer months because the rocks were so slippery.
The swimming hole is an ancient volcanic blow-hole and it's depth has never been measured.
Police divers dove as far as 8.2 metres yesterday but did not find the water hole's floor.
They found the 14-year-old's body lying on a ledge at about seven metres. Police could not confirm if he had hit his head when he fell.
Wadeville store owner Lee Scarlett said injuries at the popular swimming hole were common among tourists who weren't aware of the dangers.
He added there was a local myth that the swimming hole was bottomless.
“It is very deep, people say it goes all the way to China,” he said.
“There's been a few people who have dived in and actually hit turtles too. I'd love to know how deep it is.
“It's in the Lonely Planet so we get a lot of backpackers out here and I think it once had its own website.
“We get a lot of people come out here from Byron because of Hanging Rock. They come in here and ask for directions.
“It's one of the few waterfalls like that you can actually drive to.”