Erosion, falling trees could continue at Inskip sinkhole
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EROSION and collapsing trees are expected to continue for the next few weeks around the sinkhole which opened up at Inskip Pt on Saturday, causing 300 campers and holiday makers to be evacuated from the area.
Geotechnical engineers will continue to assess the hole to figure out the safety of the surrounding campgrounds, but after carrying out initial tests of the hole on Monday, an engineer advised Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service that the sinkhole site at Inskip Point is now "relatively stable."
After initially studying the grounds, the sinkhole was estimated to be 200 metres long, 50 metres wide, some 7.5 metres deep in the middle and 9 metres at its deepest point, further out from the central area.
It is now believed that the hole may actually be a near shore or peninsula landslide rather than a true sinkhole.
Geotechnical engineer Ian Shipway said a peninsula landslide was a "complex thing."
"[It's] associated with the currents and underlying geology," Mr Shipway said.
"We haven't come down to root causes but the shape and everything about it suggests that it is a peninsula landslide."
He said there was a difference between sinkholes and landslides.
"The difference would be that a sinkhole is something that forms in limestone or similar rocks, with a straight vertical movement," he said.
"Whereas the movement we're seeing is the land moving offshore."
Advice from the initial finding was that the event had likely passed and a flat beach edge was forming.
However, a spokesman from the department of National Parks, Sporting and Racing said coastal erosion was still happening, which could cause more trees to collapse.
He said this erosion might keep happening slowly for some weeks.
When asked if more peninsula landslides should be expected in the area, Mr Shipway said he had no evidence to suggest that would be the case.
"It has happened in the past at this location and near to this location but at this stage I don't have any evidence to suggest that this is going to happen more often."
The MV Beagle campground and eastern section of Sarawak campground will remain closed and barriers will be extended out to 200 metre radius for safety reasons.
Campgrounds MV Natone, SS Dorringo and The Oaks remain open.
UPDATE 2:00PM MONDAY: Earth has stopped moving at Inskip Pt after sinkhole
THE earth has officially stopped moving at Inskip Point, after Saturday night's sinkhole drama, Gympie region Mayor Mick Curran said on Monday.
Speaking from the sinkhole site at Inskip Point, Cr Curran said a geotechnical analysis conducted on behalf of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service this morning had now reported that all signs indicated the incident was now over.
"If it's stopped moving, it's over and what's gone is gone," Cr Curran summarized.
Officials were still cordoning off affected areas as a precaution, he said.
UPDATE 6.00PM SUNDAY | WATCH: Inskip sinkhole evacuation total reaches 300 people
A further 160 Inskip Point campers have been evacuated as a precaution after a sinkhole opened up last night, bringing the total number to 300.
All campers remain safe and accounted for, and no injuries have been reported.
Those impacted have been relocated to other campsites at Inskip Point and Rainbow Beach.
Status of campgrounds:
- MV BEAGLE CLOSED
- MV SARAWAK PARTLY CLOSED (EASTERN SIDE CLOSED)
- MV NATONE OPEN
- SS DORRIGO OPEN
- THE OAKS OPEN
In the interest of public safety, QPWS is urging people to avoid the area, observe traffic barriers and warning signs.
The sinkhole is now estimated to be 200 metres in length (previously estimated 150 metres) following further assessment.
Geotechnical engineers have completed an initial assessment this afternoon and will conduct further inspections tomorrow.
The engineers have advised current exclusion zones are appropriate and will provide further advice to QPWS in coming days.
Access to the barge via Inskip Point road remains open to vehicles.
UPDATE 4.14PM: Campers staying at the MV Sarawak campground at Inskip Pt have also been evacuated after a 150m sinkhole swallowed three vehicles at the MV Beagle campground at about 10.30pm on Saturday night.
Sarawak is located about 300 metres away from the sinkhole, near the Inskip barge.
Incident controller Senior Fraser Island Ranger Dan Clifton said the four-wheel drive, caravan and campervan were still in the football-field sized hole because authorities believe it was still too unsafe to try and get them out.
"We haven't actually been in there yet, right now we're trying to keep people out of it and as far away as possible," Ranger Clifton said.
It is still unknown how deep the hole is.
"It's relatively deep, more than a few metres, but we're still speculating."
Ranger Clifton said there were no more evacuation plans at this stage, and a geotechnician was heading to the site to determine the short, medium and long-term future of the grounds.
"We're not sure until we get more information, but right now we're mostly focused on the short term."
UPDATE 2.04PM: All campers impacted by the 150 metre sinkhole at Inskip Point, north of Rainbow Beach, are safe and accounted for.
The hole opened up along the shoreline at approximately 10.30pm on Saturday night prompting the evacuation of 140 people.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has asked people to avoid the area. The 150 metre sinkhole is 50 metres wide and 3 metres deep taking in a large part of the MV Beagle campsite.
One vehicle, a caravan, a camper trailer and some tents have fallen in.
Impacted campers have been moved to other campsites at Inskip Point and Rainbow Beach while others have chosen to leave the area. QPWS and police have cordoned off the area, preventing vehicle and pedestrian access.
All other roads and camping grounds at Inskip Point remain open.
UPDATE 11.57: Carolyn Elder from Rainbow Beach towing & Roadside assist said she has seen the hole herself and would describe it as the size of a football field.
"Right now it's a matter of waiting for authorities to say we can try to recover the vehicles, but we have the facilities on standby," Ms Elder said.
"We have divers ready to see how deep it is exactly."
She said she has been told it may be up to nine meters deep and it was a miracle everyone got out of the way safely.
"Some of my customers said there was a young boy that alerted everyone as to what was happening, he started screaming," she said.
"Cars started backing up straight away and everyone moved away quickly."
She said people in Inskip were used to dealing with smaller sinkholes.
"I think this is a naturally occurring thing, but there's been nothing to the degree of what we've seen overnight since 2011," she said.
"We expect nature to do its thing and everybody's safe which is the main thing."
UPDATE: More tales and images are emerging from a Queensland campsite, where holiday-makers had to flee after a sinkhole opened up around them.
Rory-Lee Bailey said: "thank goodness this didn't happen 3wks ago when we were there :)"
Rebecca Hirst: "Omg my family and i have been going camping there for almost 20 years, and have never seen a sink hole just extreme weather! Glad everyone is safe it would of been scary"
Russell Garrard: "interesting one for insurance, would it be covered by the vehicles insurance or the liability insurance of the campsite? Either way, glad no one has lost their lives."
EARLIER: CAMPERS at Inskip Point near Rainbow Beach have told of narrowly escaping with their lives after an apparent "sinkhole" opened up at the popular holiday spot.
Sunshine Coast recovery experts Clayton's Towing reported the camp grounds were being evacuated overnight.
In a Facebook post, it wrote campers heard a loud rumbling "like a storm" as sand began "rapidly disappearing into the ocean at an amazing speed".
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Two Clayton's staffers with friends were staying at the campgrounds, according to the company's post.
"They only just got their four-wheel drives and caravans out with seconds to spare as their campsite disappeared 3m down into the ocean.
"A four-wheel drive, large caravan, camper trailer, tents etc on the site next to them all got swallowed into the ocean."
Others have added to the social media post, confirming the information from the towing firm.
"Yep, can't believe we made it out. I thought we were gonners for sure, was truly scary how fast it came into our camp site and swallowed it all up," wrote one commenter.
"Yes, we were there (at the M.V) Beagle campsite, there was a sink hole near toilet no. 2, vehicles and cars lost," another said.
"OMG still can't believe we got out, very scary," wrote another.
It is not the first time Inskip has been struck by the phenomenon.
In 2011, visitors told of a small hole in the sand growing into a giant chasm about 100m across and 5m deep.
Below: John McLeod's video from the 2011 Inskip sinkhole
Below: Historic photos of the emerging sinkhole which shocked Inskip campers in 2011
Hervey Bay's Ron Morgan -- who was on the beach at the time -- told the Fraser Coast Chronicle:
"The beach is just falling, it's disappearing into a giant hole," he said.
"You can't see the bottom. It's like a deep crevasse, and it is growing all the time.
"It's all the way up to the tree line and I just saw two trees fall in.
"The whole beach is disappearing."