G20 Australia 2014

Friday 14th November – Brisbane G20 Summit


Today is a public holiday in Brisbane due to the G20 and the traffic problems it causes. Ignoring this—and most other people who had foolishly left Brisbane to head to boring places like the beach—Bronwen and I drove into the city, where we promptly got stuck in traffic being held up for a motorcade. We took the first exit we could off the road we were stuck in, and ended up driving the wrong way down a very narrow single-lane one way street, and parking in a small area between two no parking zones, which might have been somewhere I was allowed to park.

Having managed to arrive—and not yet being blown up or terrorised—we walked into the CBD. We saw several motorcades and Bronwen was interviewed by Italian TV. There were police and security everywhere, snipers on rooftops, cameras and communications equipment hidden away all over the place, and every second car was a limousine with darkly tinted windows.

We had lunch at Vegorama in the Myer Centre. Despite the media reporting the place as a ghost town, there were enough people around that it didn’t look strange. It was certainly less busy than usual, but in a pleasant, uncrowded kind of way.

We walked around the CBD for a while, and then over to South Bank—where there were a few thousand more police—and around the fenced off convention centre to the Aboriginal Embassy at Musgrave Park, then back to the city again, and eventually, late in the evening, drove home. It had been a tiring and hot day, but quite exciting—vastly better than the beach and all its sharks and annoying sand.


I had been expecting Putin to arrive around eleven o’clock, but heard that he’d landed at the airport early, so I rushed back into the city—managing to drive from home to the city, and find parking, in record, semi-miraculous, time. I—along with a small group of people and a lot of police—watched Putin arrive at The Hilton. We only got the smallest glimpse of Putin himself, but it was interesting to see the heavy police presence.

I then wandered up the road to The Sofitel by accident, finding out when I got there that I had meant to go in the opposite direction to Stamford Plaza—by which time the road had been closed down and I couldn’t get back. By the use of an overpass and much detouring I eventually managed to get to Stamford Plaza, where I found a large amount of flag-waving Chinese and hundreds of police lined in up rows. I quickly realised that they had some serious security concerns about this, which made Putin’s arrival seem quite secure. However, everyone seemed quite happy when the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, arrived.

Cameras are hiding everywhereSome shops near Putin’s Hilton had prepared for the worstPutin’s HiltonSome of the entertainment on in the mallFortress BrisbanePolice perform an ID checkA police boat on the river at South BankThere were quite a lot of horse policeA police boat patrols the Brisbane RiverAnother police boat on the Brisbane RiverThe fence erected around the convention centreBronwen posing against the riot fencingRestricted Area warningAll roads leading into restricted areas were barricadedFencing along the back of South BankIndependent Legal Observers tagged along anywhere that seemed like it could end up in troubleThe Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Musgrave ParkThe Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Musgrave ParkProtesters at the The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Musgrave ParkThe Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Musgrave ParkThe Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Musgrave ParkSignage on the fence around South BankPolice manning a roadblock in South BankOne of the gates into South BankA checkpoint into South BankA checkpoint into South BankAnother checkpoint into South BankA very small protesterFortress Brisbane is strong in South BankBarricading on the roadsThe Brisbane Sign minus any peopleAn entrance into the convention centrePolice watching swimmers at the South Bank peeing poolThere were huge amounts of police on bicyclesAnd lots of police on the waterSnipers on the rooftop of David Cameron’s hotelOne of the many cameras hidden around the citySnipers on the rooftop of the Treasury HotelAnother unobtrusive spying or media postPolice were everywhereBronwen is interviewed by Italian TVA police cyclist wearing a go-proThis is what VIPs looked like in their limousines. Here we have Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkish Prime Minister, wavingThe Russians drive around looking dangerousA typical motorcade heading towards South Bank. This was a small motorcade. Higher risk people had much larger ones.The gate to Fortress BrisbaneSome of the entertainment in the mallMore entertainment in the mall. Unfortunately everyone was busy watching policePeople and police waiting for Putin’s arrivalPutin arriving at The HiltonPolice guarding Putin’s HiltonPutin arriving at The HiltonPeople and police nervously await the arrival of Xi Jinping, President of ChinaCheering crowds greet Xi Jinping, President of ChinaPolice outside Xi Jinping’s StamfordPolice outside Xi Jinping’s StamfordTransmission vans

Saturday 15th November – Brisbane G20 Summit


Bronwen and I drove into the city again. We parked in the Roma Street car park, which was free for the G20. The city was split in half for hours due to Adelaide Street turning into a motorcade route. Quite often no motorcade would even use it, but it would still be closed just in case they needed to—some people had been stuck trying to cross it for two hours. We got stuck on the wrong side of it a few times, and had to walk a very long distance in the huge heat to get onto the bikeway and walk along the river to get to parliament house to see Obama leave on his way to give his speech at UQ.

It was incredibly hot, and standing next to the Perspex barricades didn’t help things, but eventually Obama left, giving us all a wave from inside his 16 ton (or so people guess—it’s a secret) car known as “the beast”. Bronwen and I rushed to Coles and bought litres of cold drink, and had some lunch.

After exhausting ourselves some more—and Bronwen has had flu all weekend which hasn’t helped—we drove up to Bronwen’s parents’ place.


We drove back to the city with Bronwen’s Dad—or at least, tried to, but Caxton Street was closed due to a motorcade, so Bronwen and her Dad walked while I tried to get to the city other ways. I managed to get close enough to the Roma Street car park that I could see it, only to be stopped by another motorcade closure and forced to turn off into another street, which also promptly turned into a motorcade blockage and I was again forced up another street. Now travelling in entirely the wrong direction back out of the city, I parked for a while in a special G20 no parking tow-away zone and went for a walk until the motorcade closure was lifted. I then rushed back to my car and rushed down to the road and rushed to the next car park… getting there just as they closed the road for a motorcade again.

Once I finally caught up with Bronwen and her Dad—having to wait for another two motorcade closures before I could walk across enough roads to get to them—we all went for a walk through the city and over to South Bank, then around QAGOMA where all the important people were having a cocktail function, and back to the city again, before driving back to Bronwen’s parents’ place.

Apparently I was on TV—Channel 7 news I think.

A small protest outside City HallThe streets are empty. People cannot cross them.The Saudis travel in their motorcadeThe SaudisPolice make a man remove his boots, presumably so they can walk a mile in themA soldier walks along a barricaded roadPolice watch protesters outside City HallThe roads are again shut as another motorcade goes byPolice are everywherePolice line the roadsAn educated protester who used a semi-colonAboriginal protesters in Emma Miller PlaceAboriginal protesters, who claim that their children are being stolenProtesters and the mediaProtesters who don’t realise we are carbon-based life formsThe police spy on the protestersFalun Gong had a large protest groupFalun Gong protest peacefully at Roma StreetProtesters gather at Roma StreetThe police photograph protestersA member of “Anonymous”, who managed to get media coverage quite out of proportion to their tiny numbersAn endangered species who doesn’t like breathing the fresh airAn aboriginal policewoman gets into the protest spiritFalun Gong wish the Chinese would stop persecuting them, and harvesting their organsPolice, ominously preparedAnother sneaky cameraObama’s limousine, “The Beast”No-nonsense policePolice guarding Parliament House shortly before Obama’s motorcade leavesA police helicopter was in the air at all timesSnipers were on rooftops all around the city. As the temperatures soared, reaching 63° on some rooftops, they erected gazebos for themThese communications devices sprung up all around the cityThe secret service taking their job seriously as Obama enters his motorcadeObama’s motorcade leaves Parliament House on the way to UQObama’s limousine, “The Beast”Obama, waving to the small crowdThe streets are emptyBronwen waiting for a motorcade to arrivePeople rushing across the street in one of the short times it was open. The closed streets made it very difficult to get around the city, even on foot, at timesUkrainian protesters who do not like PutinUkrainian protesters who do not like Putin. Many of them, and some media, got stuck on the wrong side of one of the closed streets for so long that by the time they got there, the protest had ended.People wait for a street to be opened so they can cross. They were closed for hours at a time, and often no motorcades used them.People rush across a street after it is openedA motorcade arrives at South Bank on its way to a cocktail function at QAGOMAImportant people in QAGOMAImportant people in QAGOMAThe city looked colourfulImportant people in the state library

Sunday 16th November – Brisbane G20 Summit


I got up early and drove into town. Bronwen didn’t come as she was still sick. I parked in the free parking at the Roma Street Car Park, and made my way over the Victoria Bridge to the Cultural Centre in South Bank. I arrived around half past seven, and then spent the next couple of hours slowly baking—alternating between sitting in the shade and standing in the sun, each time a motorcade went past. A few people managed to sneak in via other routes, but I saw most of the important people’s motorcades, and while I could sometimes see through the windows, I wasn’t able to take any photographs through them, even with a polariser on. The reflections were just too bad and the windows were usually quite tinted. Both Obama and Putin’s windows are less tinted, but even then I wasn’t able to get any particularly good photos—which was a bit disappointing considering how much effort I’d put in and how hot it was.

Fortunately a few interesting people turned up to chat to, which passed the time well.


I spent the afternoon wandering around the city. It was even hotter today—temperatures reached 40°, and apparently hit 63° on some of the rooftops where the snipers were. They put up little gazebos for them on the rooftops around town, somewhat ruining their attempts to remain hidden and out of sight.

I wandered down to the Hilton, fortuitously not long before Putin arrived and left for the airport. The place was surrounded by media so I figured something must be up and went and asked them what they were waiting for, and they said Putin was arriving in ten minutes, so I waited too. I was even able to get a few photos of him.

I saw a few protests, and wandered up to Roma Street Parklands where Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, was unveiling a statue of Ghandi. The Indians there were very happy, and very loud, with lots of chanting.

I finished off the day by heading down to the Marriot just as Obama was leaving, to see how that was going. They didn’t waste any time, and started taking down the fences around the streets while I was there.

There is not a lot of traffic in Brisbane todayOne of the few cars brave enough to drive through the city, where it will probably be stopped for a long time when it runs into a road closed for a motorcadeObama arrives at South Bank. This gives an indication of the paranoia under which the Americans operate.Obama’s motorcadeCars leading Obama’s motorcadeWe get to the America part of Obama’s motorcadeNote the aerials on the roof, providing secured communications from Obama’s limousine back to AmericaObama’s limousine, though in this case the first one was a decoyNo Obama, it’s a decoyObama is in the second limousineThe secret service look the partMen in black, taking their job seriouslyA whole pile more cars follow Obama’s limousineStill more cars followWe are back into Australian cars againA few more cars and some vansAn ambulance, on the off-chance Obama feels sickThe ambulance is painted black, because Obama wants to look coolYet another American car, again with a satellite uplinkThis isn’t Obama’s motorcade anymore. This gives an idea of the tinting on the windscreens and how thick they are.The windows on the limousines Australia provided to dignitaries are almost impossible to see through when they are tintedAngela Merkel, German Chancellor, was the friendliestPutin’s limousine, which he had brought from Russia (along with an entire hospital plane, and three other large jets) had a certain badness to itPutin looks busyProtesters wander around South BankSouth Bank peeing pool is much less busy than it usually would be on a day this hotUmbrella Protesters from Hong KongUmbrella Protesters from Hong KongUmbrella Protesters from Hong KongSnipers hiding under their little roof in the heatPolice wander South BankMore police wander South Bank. They are everywhere.Police ride around South BankMore police ride around South Bank, this time on motorbikesThere are snipers on top of the museumI am not sure if this was a protest, or a welcoming partyFalun Gong managed to be nearly everywhereA Falun Gong practitioner, who appears to still have his organsA protest, or a welcoming? Either way, very visible Chinese flags just across the road from the Falun GongMore entertainment in the mall, again with no one watchingPeople found some koalas in the mallThe Russian Secret Service does not look like it wants to be messed withMore men in black wandering around outside Putin’s hotelSecurity agents wander out the front of Putin’s HiltonPhotographers wait for a glimpse of Putin as he departs The Hilton. There were a lot more photographers who couldn’t find a window to stand on, and a whole pile of TV cameramen tooBeware the Trans Pacific PartnershipPutin leaves The HiltonPutin gets into his limousinePutin waves goodbye as he heads towards the airportA transmission station outside the casinoVictoria BridgeThe G20 viewing window in the libraryEntertainment in the mall which actually had some people watching it!A lone protester baits policeEveryone was very hot as temperatures reached 40°. Some of the police were from New Zealand, where they don’t have to worry about heat like this.A very peaceful protestAnother communications station, this time outside City HallPeople protesting from SudanA lot of water was drunkOne of Obama’s strange-looking Osprey flies around in the backgroundPolice line the road waiting for the arrival of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of IndiaSecurity does not look impressed as Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India arrives to open a statue of GhandiIndians go crazy as their prime minister arrives at Roma Street ParklandsMoments after Obama left people began pulling down the fencing around The Marriot, where he spent the nightBrisbane remains, as peaceful as ever. Capitalism 1, Anarchy 0The important people have left, but the entertainment goes on