Ray and Lynette McKay had no idea their Basin Pocket property, in the Queensland city of Ipswich, sat right over a disused mine shaft dating back to 1885.
Speaking to Guardian Australia, Lynette said: “We were seriously shocked.”
The couple bought the house in 1991, on the improbably named ‘Coal Street’ with very little knowledge of the history of the area.
The sinkhole was another unwelcome event in their already troubled time in Queensland.
The couple lost all their possessions during the 2011 Queensland floods, which hit their home, destroying it.
The McKays were moved to temporary accommodation in a hotel as mining teams examined the site, with a view to repair the hole.
According to local mayor Paul Pisasale, the collapse was down to an exploratory shaft dug at the site between 1903 and 1920, that miners “should have recorded properly”.
The city of Ipswich has faced a series of collapses and sinkholes in residential areas over the past few years.
A number of underground mines in the area were abandoned after flooding hit the area in 1974, destroying many buildings.
Pisasale played down concerns that other sinkholes from improperly recorded mining shafts could occur in the city but conceded “the past comes back to haunt you occasionally”.
“We know which suburbs have got [mines] and if you look at all our planning maps for people buying residential property, everything is safe and it’s all recorded now online for everybody to see,” he said.
“And only one per cent of Ipswich was ever mined. The mining industry doesn’t even exist now, our highest industry is aerospace and technology.
“So those days are gone. But history always shows you the past comes back to haunt you occasionally.”