What are the safety concerns at Brickyard Point, Austinmer?

Members of the community contacted Council to advise they had witnessed near misses with children playing at the cliff top on Brickyard Point. 

Council responded by conducting a safety inspection of the site. The resultant risk assessment indicates that the consequence of a fall could be fatal and highlights the need for some form of safety barrier.

To mitigate the risk to residents and visitors, a temporary fence was installed.  The risk assessment suggested additional vegetation alone would not be adequate. 

What other safety options has Council explored?

Some members of the community contacted Council to oppose the temporary fence.  These community members suggested alternative safety solutions including:

  • additional signage
  • more vegetation with sharp foliage
  • removing the footpath
  • removing public access entirely or having gates to the pathway at each end
  • banning all ball games
  • preventing parents from drinking alcohol while supervising children
  • excavating (1 metre) for a trench/wall structure.

Council has considered all of these options.

In addition to considering the options raised by members of the community, we also reviewed other coastal sites to see how risk is minimised in similar situations.

What about other cliff tops along our coast?

Council has compared the risk at Brickyard Point, to other sites along our coast such as Bald Hill, Flagstaff Hill and Waniora Point at Bulli.

Brickyard Point has very high usage, and a sheer drop which would be impossible to survive should someone fall from the cliff top. Flagstaff Hill is similar regarding usage and a sheer drop, and it has had a fence for many years.  Bald Hill and Waniora Point are also both very popular, however, the slopes are not as sheer and a fall would potentially cause injury, not death, and so they are not fenced.

A permanent solution for Brickyard Point is needed.

What process will Council follow to progress a permanent solution?

Council has developed a fence concept plan to allow a heritage study to proceed based on a proposed series of excavations, and alignment.  The concept plan has also assisted us with the geo-tech investigations.

Any solution that involves construction will be subject to Council obtaining relevant approvals such as an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) from the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

If Council needs to apply for an AHIP, the reports and consultation set out by OEH needed to accompany the application are likely to take close to 12 months, and, once submitted, we will have little control over the time it takes for OEH to review and respond and approve the application.

How long will the temporary fence remain?

The temporary fence will remain on the cliff top until a permanent solution is implemented. Soon we will move the temporary fence into the garden bed to align with the proposed placement for the permanent fence behind the first line of planting.  

We understand the temporary fence is not visually appealing and doesn't complement the ocean views.  

Any permanent solution will consider the amenity of the views but safety will always be the top priority.

What would a permanent fence look like?

Any permanent fence would need to be at least 1 metre high to mitigate risk and meet minimum safety standards.  The design of the fence will be as slim and visually unintrusive as possible. It will be constructed from a long lasting low maintenance material suitable for the exposed environment such as stainless steel or aluminium and have a dull non reflective surface. 

What about vegatation around the fence?

The new fence alignment will be in the garden bed behind the first row of planting, which will assist in reducing its visual impact. 

More low plants will be added to both improve the appearance of the garden bed, and help screen some of the fence.  Any plants in the garden bed would need to be tolerant of the exposed coastal conditions, easy to maintain, and no higher than the fence. 

Ultimately we want to improve the look of the garden bed by adding some variety to the planting, as part of the installation of the permanent fence. 

How can I join the conversation?

Council has already heard from some members of the community who oppose the temporary fence and who offered alternative solutions.

We want to encourage all interested members of the community to provide your feedback. 

You can use the online form or send an email to engagement@wollongong.nsw.gov.au