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EDITORIAL: Risk or a simple choice

A coroner’s report into the death of a mother at Boroka Lookout, in the Grampians National Park, is a tragic reminder of the risk of a seemingly simple choice. 

Rosy Loomba was just 38 years old, a wife and a mother of two when she visited the national park, also known as Gariwerd, with friends in December 2020. 

Travelling to the region from their Melbourne home, they went for a picnic and visited various lookouts before arriving at Boroka Lookout in the mid-afternoon.

It’s a classic and common experience and itinerary for visitors and locals alike.  

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Mrs Loomba lost her footing after taking photographs on a rock ledge protruding from the cliff, nicknamed ‘Selfie Rock’, and fell. 

Despite the best, desperate, heartbreaking attempts of her husband, Basant, to help, Mrs Loomba died – all while people lined up to take the same photograph, and in the wake of many others who had made the same choice earlier in the day.  Unimaginably, their children and friends were among the waiting crowd. 

Emergency services worked for hours to locate Mrs Loomba. 

Victoria Police and other organisations have long expressed concerns and issued warnings about the risks of ‘selfish selfies’ in such locations. 

Scaling safety fencing and embarking on risky campaigns; precarious poses and positioning and actions for the ‘perfect’ snap – in at least one ‘viral’ incident in 2018 a backflip at the same location as Mrs Loomba’s death – makes for powerful but hair-raising social media content. 

It’s a choice countless people make at many and various risky locations at the region’s tourism hotspots – likely daily. 

Warning signs and safety fencing exist to protect the public from tragedy and are regularly inspected and maintained to ensure their working order. 

The coroner’s report calls for more and explicit signs at the lookout to spell out the risks of injury and death. 

But where does the line lie between taking precautions and making safety provisions; and people taking responsibility for their choices? 

Few people would scale a safety fence at a mountain ledge, truly believing and considering they would not return. 

But that is the exact outcome if things go sour. 

Alternative options – to the extent of closing lookouts and other tourist spots – would be detrimental to the visitor experience in missing an opportunity to enjoy all the region has to offer. This would deprive the majority of an experience impacted by the few. 

People’s lives should always take priority, of any action or reaction. 

But when it also comes to taking responsibility for self and others, it’s an impossible situation.

The entire August 3, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!