Hundreds of protesters have flooded the streets of Byron Bay for a ‘freedom rally’ – despite not being in lockdown.
Between 200 and 300 people faced off against police in the sleepy beach town on the Far North Coast of NSW on Saturday.
The early signs of the protest were fairly peaceful, with locals spotted waving a series of bizarre slogans.
Some held ‘Freedom from Lockdown’ signs and repeatedly chanted ‘freedom’ – despite the fact stay-at-home orders in the Byron Shire were lifted on September 11.
Police also made several arrests at the scene.
Despite not being in lockdown, up to 300 protestors in Byron Bay took part in a anti-lockdown march on Saturday (pictured, a bikini clad protestor)
Local police at Byron Bay did make a few arrests (pictured), but the protest was largely peaceful
Locals were spotted holding a number of anti-lockdown signs – despite Byron Bay not in current lockdown
Despite not being in lockdown, Byron Bay locals were out in force in Saturday (pictured a man holding a ‘Freedom to Choose’ sign
Other anti-vaxxers were spotted in Byron Bay clutching signs which read ‘My Body My Choice’ on Saturday
Despite a series of arrests, the anti-lockdown protest in Byron Bay on Saturday was fairly peaceful
Other Byron Bay local held signs which stated ‘We can’t choose how or when we die – but we can choose how we live’
Other signs locals from Byron Bay who took part in Saturday’s anti-lockdown march read ‘We claim our right to choose’
Elsewhere, the scenes were far more aggressive in Melbourne and Sydney.
About 1,000 people turned out in full-force to protest against the stay-at-home orders as they swarmed in front of traffic in Richmond, in Melbourne’s inner suburbs, on Saturday.
Some 2,000 officers were deployed at road checkpoints and barricades, and on roving patrols, to try to stop the rally going ahead in breach of public health orders.
The CBD became a no-go zone ahead of Saturday’s unrest, with most public transport to and from the precinct suspended and a ‘ring of steel’ erected around its fringe with threats of $5,500 fines for anyone travelling into the city without a lawful reason.
‘Free our children’ and ‘you serve us,’ the demonstrators in Richmond chanted as the protests turned violent.
One protester was filmed carrying a placard that read: ‘This is not about a virus. It’s about government total control of the people’.
Scenes escalated around midday with police forced to deploy capsicum spray before arresting several protesters as others taunted and hurled abuse at them.
Police dodged traffic cones, bottles, flares and smoke bombs after angry protesters hurled the items at the blockade.
Meanwhile in Sydney, demonstrators used live traffic app ‘Waze’ to navigate around roadblocks that were set up by police hours earlier as they prepared for the planned anti-lockdown rallies.
Demonstrators sent each other messages and alerted each other in real time, prompting additional police to be deployed to Bass Hill, in south-west Sydney.
NSW Police arrived at Sydney Park, St Peters, in at least five busloads and were ready on cycles, on horseback and on foot to prevent demonstrators massing there, as a police operation blocked roads leading to the park.
The scenes were a lot more violent in Melbourne on Saturday from 12pm, where locals clashed with police (pictured)
Police were forced to spray to subdue the angry crowd near Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday from midday onwards
Flares were let off on the outskirts of Melbourne’s CBD as the situation threatened to boil over as the state endures yet another lockdown
Tensions were also high in Sydney, with two protest marches (pictured, a woman chats to police at Bass Hill on Saturday)
Police made a series of arrests at Sydney Park in St Peters in the inner-west (pictured, an officer takes a man for questioning)
Several arrests were made at Sydney Park, with protesters placed in police paddy wagons.
The anti-lockdown rallies also went ahead in Brisbane with residents gathering at the Botanic Gardens.
Footage showed several protesters without face masks, sitting together in close proximity and picnicking on the grass.
More demonstrators were also spotted gathering in Adelaide with maskless crowds packed close together.