Lonely Planet Writer

Selfie scare: happy snappers swept into water in Sydney by rogue wave

More than 100 people were injured when a powerful wave crashed over the Figure Eight rock pools in Sydney’s Royal National Park on Saturday.

Rock pools at Sydney's Royal National Park
Rock pools at Sydney’s Royal National Park Image by Andrew Harvey / CC BY 2.0

Around 150 people were at the rock pools, a popular destination for day hikers and happy snappers, when a series of rogue waves crashed over the rock shelf, knocking visitors off their feet and dragging them across the rocky surface. A 20-year-old woman was washed into the ocean and hit her head before being rescued.

Witnesses contacted emergency services whose arrival at the scene was made difficult due to its remote location. The pools are tucked between coastal headlands and can only be reached by land via a challenging 3km hike. Lifesavers were the first to arrive on the scene, accessing the rocks via an inflatable boat. While most of the injured were treated at the site, three people, including the woman who was washed into the sea, were airlifted to hospitals via helicopter. All have since been released.

The rock pools at Sydney's Royal National Park are relatively inaccessible.
The rock pools at Sydney’s Royal National Park are relatively inaccessible. Image by Andrew Harvey / CC BY 2.0

The picturesque rock pools are a favourite spot for selfies, with the National Parks and Wildlife Service seeing an upswing in the number of visitors frequenting the remote location. In December 2015, more than 9000 people completed the difficult return hike to the pools, in what Kane Weeks, the Royal National Park’s area manager, said was a dramatic increase in numbers.

“From general observations, it definitely is Generation Y visiting, and a high proportion of international visitors, and they’re getting that photo opportunity of the Figure Eight Pools for Instagram.” Mr Weeks told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Gen Y is looking for adventure in the park, they’re looking for unique spots that have an element of excitement and where there’s a degree of risk, so to speak.”

Ever aware of the dangers posed by the ocean, the National Parks and Wildlife Service website cautions visitors to be wary, even during low tide, and never turn their backs on the ocean.

Watch the video: smh.com.au