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G20 Brisbane: World leaders swelter as locals hit the beach for long weekend

By Alyse Edwards, Matt Eaton and staff, Saturday November 15, 2014 - 12:08 EDT
ABC image
South Bank swimming pool, near the G20 summit venue, under a watchful eye in the midday heat on Friday. - ABC
ABC image
Shoppers at the Cavill Avenue mall at Surfers Paradise on Friday on the G20 long weekend. - ABC

Some of the hottest conditions on record are expected in parts of Queensland over the next few days, with many Brisbane residents heading to the beach to take advantage of today's G20 public holiday.

Heavy traffic has been reported along the M1, the main highway from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, as people flock to the beach for the long weekend - an exodus that began on Thursday afternoon.

World leaders arriving in Brisbane for the G20 Leaders' Summit will have to contend with very hot weather conditions, with the city predicted to hit 32 degrees Celsius today, 35 on Saturday and 39 degrees on Sunday.



West of Brisbane, the predicted top in Ipswich is 36 degrees today, 41 on Saturday and 42 degrees on Sunday, which would surpass the city's November record of 41 degrees.

Authorities said the weekend heatwave was unlikely to deter G20 protesters in Brisbane, but Deputy Police Commissioner Ross Barnett said the scorching weather would be taxing on everyone.



"Obviously it's going to be very oppressive conditions for our officers and for protesters - it's far from ideal, but we'll just have to deal with the circumstances presented to us," he said.

"But the health and welfare of protesters and our officers is going to be yet another factor that we're going to be very conscious of."

Deputy Commissioner Katarina Carroll said 12 officers had taken sick leave as a gastro bug affected some police on G20 duties.

"That was identified early yesterday afternoon so obviously we text all 6,000 police officers just to take the usual precautions because we don't want to bring down many officers whilst they're on patrol and doing their duties," she said.

"There was a gastro bug but it appears to have subsided this morning."

Brisbane's Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said all of the city's hotels were fully booked, as well as those as far west as Toowoomba.

But the Brisbane City Council Opposition said mixed messages from politicians had prompted residents to leave the city.

Councillor Quirk blamed the exodus on media reports on traffic and security restrictions.

But local Labor leader Milton Dick said Councillor Quirk was trying to shoot the messenger.

"In the last 12 months we've seen the Lord Mayor and also the Newman Government give warning after warning for people to stay away from the city," Mr Dick said.

"In the last couple of weeks they've realised that they're worried Brisbane may end up as a ghost town.

"Graham Quirk should stop blaming the media for the mixed messages."

Coastal tourism influx

Meanwhile Gold Coast Tourism spokesman Ben Pole said occupancy rates were high across the city, as thousands of Brisbane residents flock to the region.



Mr Pole said the extremely hot weather had also made the Gold Coast more attractive.

"The good thing about this weekend is that it sits in the middle of what is the summer season, so a long weekend and some good weather means visitation to the Gold Coast," he said.

"Brisbane is our largest source of visitors to the Gold Coast so it makes sense that when there is a long weekend and there is good weather, we are going to see that trade."

Mr Pole said Gold Coast traders were making the most of the extra visitors.

"They don't necessarily only go to the key precincts - and we are seeing this with the G20 long weekend - we are seeing the Brisbane residents but they are staying across the coast, which is a benefit right across the industry here," he said.



On the Sunshine Coast, the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce said the region would experience one of the busiest weekends of the year as Brisbane residents fled the city to avoid the impact of the G20.

The chamber's tourism spokesman, Bill Darby, said his five-star resort was booked out and he was turning away up to 30 people a day.

Mr Darby said it was the same across the rest of the coast during what was usually a quiet period.

"It's been surprising - the advance bookings that we've had here in Caloundra have been really strong and the whole Sunshine Coast has experienced that same interest," he said.

"People are really getting out of Brisbane and coming to the Sunshine Coast.

"Most of the main properties and beachfront properties across the coast have been booked out for a number of weeks now.

"There's been significantly more interest because of the long weekend than we would normally have at this time of the year."

More leaders to arrive

US president Barack Obama is due to arrive at Amberley Air Base, near Ipswich, early on Saturday.

There continues to be a flurry of activity at the Brisbane airport as more world leaders arrive for the G20 summit.

Mexico's president touched down this morning, followed by India's prime minister Narendra Modi, who will visit the QUT campus in Brisbane this afternoon.

British prime minister David Cameron is expected later today, having addressed a joint sitting of Federal Parliament in Canberra this morning.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin will fly in tonight.



High temperatures to continue throughout the night

Senior Forecaster Rick Threlfall said even night-time temperatures would not fall below the mid 20s.

"That means the body doesn't really get a chance to cool down overnight and we do see a sort of build up of heat stress and you don't sort of lose that heat that's built up over the day time," he said.

"It is a bit concerning, particularly for the older people and vulnerable people, children and anyone outside - it's not really the time to be doing that."

The bureau said a high pressure ridge off the Queensland coast was also causing hot, northerly winds.

Further west, Darling Downs residents will also be sweating- with the mercury tipped to to hit 42 degrees in Warwick and Goondiwindi. It will be even hotter in the southwest where Cunnamulla is looking at a top of 43 degrees.

There is a very high fire danger over most of the state's interior.

Meanwhile, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews remain at the scene of a grass fire burning around the town of Esk, north-west of Ipswich.

The fire has been burning since Thursday and a large volume of smoke remained visible in the area.

Fire crews said they would continue to patrol and monitor the fire over the weekend.

Authorities also said another grass fire was burning near the Burnett Highway at Goomeri in Queensland's southern inland.

Neither fire was posing any threat to property.


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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