Sport Other Sports Surfers at Tasmania’s big wave ‘Shippies’ fear access cut after cliff collapse

Surfers at Tasmania’s big wave ‘Shippies’ fear access cut after cliff collapse

Shipsterns Bluff before and after
"We couldn't believe it," says photographer Andrew Chisholm. Photo: Andrew Chisholm/ABC
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Part of the towering cliffs surrounding Tasmania’s world-renowned surf break, Shipstern Bluff, appear to have collapsed.

It has surfers worried access to the area could soon be restricted.

Photographer Andrew Chisholm said he first noticed the rock fall while out on the water on Monday.

“My mate said something about the bluff isn’t quite right,” he said.

“He said ‘I haven’t been here for a while, and everything seems a little bit smaller’ and an hour later I actually realised [it was].”

At first Mr Chisholm was not sure what he was seeing.

“I concluded yeah, a really large amount of the cliff had actually just collapsed,” he said.

“I’ve gone ‘hey guys check it out, I swear a bit of the cliff’s fallen down’ and sure enough, everyone just spun out.

“We kind of couldn’t believe it.”

Area used by walkers, surfers

Surfers can access the iconic wave either by boat or on foot.

“When we walk in you’ve got to go around the headland, right under … basically where the rocks fell down is where we walk through,” Mr Chisholm said.

“A couple of years ago a small car-sized boulder fell off the cliff face just after we walked through.”

“So when you see something like this … I’m hoping, no one got hurt.”

Shipstern bluff cliff collapse

I was on a shoot down at shipstern bluff today and the crew noticed a major change in appearance of the famous Shipstern bluff, Andy Chiza and James Polly Polanowski noticed the rubble first so i flew over for a check and a major part of the cliff has fallen down almost wiping out the whole front area that everyone stands and films! the cliff has lots of loose boulders hanging on still, be careful down there, people were climbing over it as if it was normal.

Posted by Stu Gibson Photography on 2017年1月15日

Surfers are worried Parks and Wildlife will consider closing the track which allows walkers to access the bluff, but Mr Chisholm said it would not deter those chasing waves.

“For the general public you might want to err on the side of caution, but if you want to go into a surf spot you’re going to go in regardless, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“There can be as much bureaucracy as there wants to be but there’s nothing [that is] going to stop me going in when the swell’s big,” he said.

At this stage it is not clear when the rock fall occurred.

“It could have been a week ago for all we know but usually when something happens down there we find out about it pretty quick,” Mr Chisholm said.

“Rock structures have been falling down all over the place around the world for a long time. So it’s Shippies’ time you know?”

Visitors urged to stay away from cliff area

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service said the walking track to the area would remain open but bushwalkers were advised to steer clear of the cliff area.

Staff will be conducting an inspection today and installing warning signs.

“The walking track to Raoul Bay remains open, however people visiting the area are asked to respect any warning signage beyond the end of the track in the interests of their own safety,” southern region operations manager Shane Breen said in a statement.

“The rockfall site is likely to be unstable for a number of weeks.

“These events are part of the natural erosion process in a dynamic coastal environment.”

UTAS geologist Garry Davidson said the collapse may have introduced instability to the rock face.

“It may be that there’s further sheets of cliff to come off,” he said.
“It’s something that’s going to have to be monitored, I’d say, for a few years now to make sure it is safe.”


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