BIG JOB: Clayton’s Towing crews attempting the salvage operation at Inskip Point, near Rainbow Beach, after a huge ‘sinkhole’ opened up and swallowed a car and caravan at the popular camping spot on Saturday, September 26.
BIG JOB: Clayton’s Towing crews attempting the salvage operation at Inskip Point, near Rainbow Beach, after a huge ‘sinkhole’ opened up and swallowed a car and caravan at the popular camping spot on Saturday, September 26. Greg Miller

Could a 24-hour 'sinkhole' watch protect Inskip campers?

LONG-time Inskip Point protection campaigner Reg Lawler says a round-the-clock 'sink patrol' could be the answer to ensuring campers' safety at the popular site.

After the dramatic events of September 26, in which Jenny and Dieter Gass were lucky to escape with their lives after their car and caravan was sucked into the massive 'sinkhole' that opened up, questions have been asked as to how best protect the public utilising the beach.

The State Government's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection confirmed Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service had secured the area around the 'sinkhole', while also commissioning geotechnical engineers to provide safety advice and uncover the reasons for instability affecting the area.

RELATED: Massive ancient landslides found under sea off Coast

Mr Lawler, who after three years successfully fought against stage two of the Rainbow Shores development at Inskip Point, said he believed there was no need to ban campers, but said QPWS officers could be called into action to keep watch during significant tidal events and sound the alarm, if necessary.

"It's pretty volatile at the moment," Mr Lawler said.

"If there's a very high tide running through it wouldn't hurt to have someone monitoring it through the night.

"They've moved campers before on Inskip and it's only in those circumstances like they had - middle of the night, very rapid erosion, that it's dangerous so they need a permanent staff down there.

"It'd only be a couple of nights each tide (significant tide), get some park rangers down there to keep an eye on it."

Should there be a 24-hour 'sinkwatch' at Inskip Pt?

This poll ended on 15 October 2015.

Current Results

Yes, but only at dangerous times

23%

No, people can look after themselves

48%

People shouldn't be camping there at all

28%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The 73-year-old Cooloola resident said he thought a greater dispersion of campers could also help improve safety, rather than having beachgoers clustered overnight, causing potential problems if a quick getaway had to be made.

He called on the State Government to engage a consultative committee to work through the issues, to ensure the next time it happened, which he believed was inevitable that another underwater landslide would occur, safety procedures were in place.

"About every 10-15 years they happen," he said.

"The current is much more violent underwater than on the surface and there's an underwater river that runs, gouging sand and it creates an eddy which gouges out the shore as it moves closer, and leads to the collapses."

He said the entire system, from Double Island Point to Fraser Island, was extremely unstable, and he'd seen the beachfront retreat 60m over three years at one point.

Theories as to exactly how the September 26 landslide occurred have varied, although a DEHP spokesman said it was related to tidal currents and eddy effects.

Those views were in the same vein as Sydney University Associate Professor in Environmental and Engineering Geology Tom Hubble's, who said in his opinion, underwater currents had been responsible for the collapse, aided by the full-moon tide at the time.



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