The protests instigated by young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took place in every capital city and over 100 other towns and cities around the nation.
Australia was one of the first nations to kick-off the day of action which is taking just a few days out from the United Nations Climate Change Summit being held in New York.
Image: Brisbane's Victoria Bridge as thousands walk across today for climate change.
As is often the case, a number of Government officials downplayed the protests and Education Minister Dan Tehan even tried to equate the “school strike” with sub-standard NAPLAN results.
Many schools around the nation tacitly supported the school strike although they did ask students to protest in the classroom, while some of the nation’s leading independent schools threatened students with punishments such as suspension for participating.
Yet while some educational institutions, politicians and many in the traditional media talked of some vast conspiracy involving shady climate activists leading children into ill-informed protests, the truth was somewhat different.
The University of Sydney saw 1000s of students march from the main campus to the Domain in the city to take part. Eyewitness accounts suggested the wave of protesters stretched for over a kilometre from the university down to Sydney’s main railway terminus at Central.
At every protest, school and university students as well as young activists spoke passionately on the dangers of climate inaction and the poor efforts of most governments’ around the world to combat climate change.
The protests come days after Thunberg implored US policymakers to not listen to her but to “listen to the scientists”. This comes just weeks after leaders of Pacific Island nations heavily criticised Australia at the Pacific Islands Forum on its lack of climate action as they face real questions about their long-term survival.
Back in Australia, over 2500 local businesses signed up to participate in the day’s action and early estimates from organisers suggest more than 150,000 people turned up in Melbourne and tens of thousands in Sydney.
Thousands more protested in other capital cities including Perth, Brisbane and Hobart. In the tiny Queensland town of Chinchilla, a lone protester sat out the front of her school.
Image by National Geographic: Climate chnage strikers take the streets of Melbourne's CBD leading to Treasury Gardens.
Besides Thunberg’s message of listen to the scientists, protesters were keen to let politicians know they were sick of how the world’s future had become part of a broader partisan debate rather than an issue needing to be addressed urgently.
As a speaker at the Sydney event said, "We are in the grips of a massive global crisis and you are leaving children to clean up your mess ... Where is the justice in that?"
Lead image: Thousands attend the global climate crisis strike in Australia.