Byron Bay will be bulging with Queenslanders this weekend as Brisbane residents flee their city to escape the G20 summit of world leaders.
The Byron Visitors Centre has told Echonetdaily that the influx of northerners is not completely unexpected.
‘We were almost booked out completely a couple of weeks ago and there has been only a few cancellations here and there,” Julie Durberville from the visitors centre said.
‘It’s going to be a gorgeous weekend in Byron so it’s no surprise that Brisbane people would want to be here.’
For those still looking for accommodation, Ms Durberville said the options were limited.
‘We have one property that charges $650 a night … and there are a few holiday huts at the caravan parks which cost about $100 a night.’
“It’s always busy here and accommodation can be as scarse as hen’s teeth but it’s not usually this busy.
‘The closer we get to Christmas the more hectic it becomes but at the moment it’s like peak season (with the Brisbane influx).’
And while Queensland premier Campbell Newman was hoping the G20 summit would showcase Brisbane, it seems many of the city’s resident have other ideas.
Business owners are reporting that the state’s capital is like a ghost town, with heavy security, street lockdowns and potential clashes with protestors scaring many of the city’s residents away.
And while there are 3000 journalists in town to cover the antics of the 4000 G20 delegates, the city of more than 2 million people could prove a little quiet for some. But Brisbane’s loss is Byron’s gain, along with other tourist towns..
With a public holiday declared for Friday, thousands of Brisbane residents reportedly also fled their city for the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, which are both reporting heavy bookings this weekend.
Maybe it’s the fear of snipers on every rooftop, the possibility of being fined up to $5500 for entering restricted zones, or the threat of Russian warships bearing down on the city?
But it hasn’t all been one-way traffic out of town.
A contingent from the Nimbin Hemp Embassy have rolled into the big smoke calling on world leaders to include cannabis on the G20 agenda.
Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said although the ten metre Big Joint was banned by police, the contingent had one metre long baby joints to make their points.
‘Cannabis is the biggest cash crop on Earth according to UN figures, $300 billion per year,’ he said.
‘America has finally seen the light and is re-legalising so why is it not on the G20 Economic Forum agenda?”
‘If Tony Abbot wants jobs we estimate there is ten thousand waiting to be created in Australia in a legal, regulated and taxed cannabis market.’
But with all protest activity contained to certain areas by the heavy police presence, it is unlikely the world leaders will ‘toke’ the time to consider their pleas.