Covering COVID

Photo Essay by Dylan Crawford

The images taken over a ten-week COVID lockdown visualise the eerie silence and sense of isolation that cast a shadow over Brisbane, a bustling city of 2.3 million people. From the empty Brisbane river foreshore to row upon row of empty train seats, the images capture an unprecedented moment in the history of our city.


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1. Brisbane’s goal of building new social hubs for its residents became affected by the lockdowns, with socialising becoming more like a memory and less an activity.
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2. South Bank’s usually packed artificial beach sitting untouched on a sunny day was an odd sight, where once it was difficult to find space to lay your towel, only a “Beach Closed” sign remained
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3. With nowhere to be, public transport took the brunt of the lockdowns, as typically packed carriages turned into empty rooms carrying no one.
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4. The few that ventured out took the necessary precautions of face masks but the looming spectre of COVID could be felt in every moment that was spent outdoors.
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5. Despite the lockdowns affect, some services carried on. Even with the greatly diminished need to travel around the city, public buses and their drivers continued their essential work, taking steps to stay safe.
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6. The Queens Street Mall is Brisbane’s centre of trade, but with lockdown forcing all stores too close, it resembles something more in line with a starkly empty mausoleum.
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7. As fear set in, panic buying gripped Brisbane, with shortages in basic commodities like toilet paper becoming a rare sight, forcing local grocery stores to take action.
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8. 1.5 meters, the new standard of personal space in a pandemic. As those that left the safety of home had to adhere to these new government guidelines if they wanted to be in a public space.
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9. Outdoor fun had also been stripped away, with every safeguard being taken. Playground swings found themselves zip-tied up to prevent their use, with ominous attached to warn families.
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10. The Gabba Stadium, usually filled to capacity and ringing with the cheers of thousands of fans, had fallen silent. With no sporting activities slated for the coming months, all that could be glimpsed was an empty arena through a dark tunnel.
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11. Even though ample warning and barriers had been placed around public spaces, understandably feeling the pressure of self-isolating indoors, some just couldn’t resist a stroll down the beach.
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12. Amidst all the struggles that the city was facing, hope still could be found in its people. Scrawled into the pavement was a simple message that rang true and brought a smile to all those that happened by it.

Dylan Crawford is a recently graduated award winning photographer. He was shortlisted in the photographer of the year category in the 2019 Clarion Queensland State Media awards. His work in Mumbai, India was judged the best photojournalism by an undergraduate or postgraduate student by the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia.

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