CAMPERS Patricia and Don Downing got the fright of their life when they woke yesterday morning to find a giant sinkhole had swallowed a vehicle, caravan, a trailer and some tents less than 100 metres from their campsite.
The sinkhole at Inskip Pt camping ground, the northernmost point of the mainland opposite Fraser Island, opened up at about 10.30pm on Saturday.
AS IT HAPPENED:
Campers reported a loud "roar" before a giant hole about 50m wide appeared on the beach, a favourite camping spot part of the MV Beagle Campground.
The terrified female owner of the caravan had run through the campsite trying to wake people and warn them to get out, but campers thought she was drunk, Ms Downing said.
"Her van was in the sinkhole and she needed help," Ms Downing said. "Nobody got up because we all thought she was drunk."
With the Cowboys verses Storm NRL decider on Saturday night many campers had ventured in to Rainbow Beach to watch the game, and come home rowdy, she said.
No one was hurt and all people staying at the camping ground were accounted for, but at midday yesterday some campers were still in the dark about whether they needed to evacuate.
Police had visited the Downings and other campers yesterday morning and instructed them to pack up and prepare to leave, but at midday there was still no word about the possible whole-of-site evacuation.
"The police came and said pack up, we're going to evacuate," Mr Downing said.
"We just threw everything in the back of the truck. They said they'd come and tell us and then nobody came so we're still here."
The campsite's closest to the sinkhole had been evacuated immediately and an area close to the sinkhole had been cordoned off, with National Parks and Wildlife rangers, police, SES and five tow-truck companies on the scene.
Ipswich residents, Patricia and Don are "living the dream" on a one-month caravanning holiday, Patricia said.
Their idyllic campsite is metres from one of the most pristine beaches in the world. The Downings said fellow campers were still reeling from the news, including one couple who had walked their dogs over the exact spot just hours before the sinkhole opened up.
"They were both dressed in black and had two black dogs," Ms Downing said.
"Nobody would have seen them, nobody would have known where they went ... it's amazing."
The Downings said the former campsite that was now a watery crater had been a "lovely place to park" because it was very close to the water.
The couple had received frantic messages from their grandchildren, who had been camping with them until Saturday afternoon and wanted to hear they were safe.
Ms Downing said they had planned for the children to stay overnight, but one of them became sick so they altered their plans, dropping them home the day before.
She said she was "pleased" beyond words that the 13 and 14-year-old children were not with her for the terrifying ordeal.
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