The barge landing area at Inskip Point on Tuesday afternoon caved in just minutes after cars were loaded on to waiting barges.
The barge landing area at Inskip Point on Tuesday afternoon caved in just minutes after cars were loaded on to waiting barges. Amanda Nyburg

Inskip Point beach caves in

CARS parked at Inskip Point on Tuesday had a lucky escape when they were driven off the beach and onto a waiting barge just minutes before a large part of the beach gave way and disappeared into the strait between the mainland and Fraser Island.

A swath of sand about 15m long and 1.5m deep gave way in the sudden subsidence.

National Parks and Wildlife has issued a warning about "severe erosion events" on the Peninsula and campers and motorists have been told to exercise extreme caution when near the extremely unstable areas of the beach.

Gympie eyewitness Adam Nyburg was fishing just to the side of the barge landing area at about 4pm on Tuesday when the sand started to disappear in front of him.

Mr Nyburg said he and his family watched in amazement as it began to break away almost immediately after the cars had been moved onto the barge.

"We could just see the sand breaking away bit by bit once the ferries started moving," he said.

After about 20 minutes a big bite seemed to have been taken out of the tip of the beach.

"A lot of people were just standing around. They did not know it was happening," Mr Nyburg said.

"The rangers came and had a look at it, but they were saying that by today the whole lot might have gone," he said.

"There were cars parked there minutes beforehand waiting to get on the barge. There was a massive line-up to get on the barge and they had two operating at the same time."

Severe sand erosion has occurred up and down the south-east coast in the wake of departing Cyclone Fina and the king tides, with significant sand loss along the surf side of Inskip Point and at Rainbow Beach.

The rocks at Rainbow remained dangerously exposed and treacherous yesterday, with most drivers avoiding them altogether, and those running the gauntlet at dead low tide still having to drive through water.

Rainbow Beach park rangers said they were unable to comment on the situation, but the Department of Environment and Resource Management website had this warning: Due to severe natural erosion events, depressions have developed in a section of beach between the M.V. Beagle camping area and the barge landing area.

Extreme caution is recommended in the vicinity of these depressions as the beach is extremely unstable and sand could collapse or move without warning.

Visitors must not park vehicles, stand or enter the water in the vicinity of the depressions. Observe all barriers, signage and directions from rangers.