Firefighters pulled the 45-year-old woman from the water-filled pit which opened up beneath her feet in her back garden in Melbourne.

The unsuspecting victim was pegging out her washing when she came perilously close to pegging it herself. The deep chasm was only about two feet wide, making it impossible for her to escape. To make matters worse, she found herself stuck in deep water. It took about 20 minutes for shocked neighbours to hear her cries for help and alert the emergency services.

Paramedic Stephanie Palamberis told ABC that the woman’s head was under water at one point.

“The woman told us she was hanging washing out in the backyard at about 11.30am when the ground gave way,” she said. “She fell with the dirt and mud, dropping about three metres and landing in waist-deep water.”

Local fire chief Paul Carigg said: “This was a very unusual incident. Fortunately the lady has escaped without injury though she was obviously shaken up.”

Sinkholes are caused by a collapse in the earth’s surface layer. They can be up to 2000 feet wide and deep – and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t fancy plummeting down one that size whilst engaged in the innocent act of hanging out your smalls. In fact you’d definitely need a clean pair afterwards.

One celebrated sinkhole incident involved a double-decker bus which was suddenly swallowed up in the middle of a main road in Norwich, England in 1988. All change, please…