Fallen arches to create stacks of gold

TOURISM operators along the rugged south-west coast were yesterday hailing the collapse of the Island Archway at Loch Ard Gorge as a fresh attraction for the region. The latest limestone structure to succumb to the elements has again put the iconic Twelve Apostles area in the spotlight, reminding potential visitors of its dramatically changing character. News of the collapse of the 10-metre long archway emerged late on Wednesday, but the exact time of its natural destruction remains unclear. A helicopter pilot last flew over the intact archway about 4pm on Tuesday.But by 9am on Wednesday, when 12 Apostles Helicopters pilot Brad Comrie flew over the normally clear water, he was struck by its brown appearance."As soon as you lift off from here the water's normally beautiful," Mr Comrie said. He soon noticed a huge chunk of rock between the two stacks in the shallows.Parks Victoria acting ranger-in-charge at Port Campbell, Natasha Johnson, was kept busy speaking to several media outlets yesterday explaining the latest dramatic collapse."There was a large section of the arch collapse back in 1990 so it had been getting thinner (and) we did expect it to go at some point," Ms Johnson said. The platform overlooking the archway was moved five metres back from the cliff edge in October following a geotechnical review, she said. Corangamite Shire Mayor Ruth Gstrein said the fallen arch had created new views stretching to nearby Muttonbird Island. Port Campbell resident of 21 years and local business operator, Julie Brazier, said the collapse was a reminder of the coastline's constantly changing appearance."You never know what you're going to be looking out onto," Ms Brazier said.It should also serve as a warning to be wary of developments on the limestone cliffs, she said. "None of these collapses have ever been predicted, ever been forseen."Shipwreck Coast Marketing (SCM) chief executive officer Carole Reid lamented the loss of the natural archway but also saw potential in its demise."The other side is now we've got two more Apostles," Ms Reid said, adding she expected it would attract more visitors.

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