After a tense stand-off with police, a group of largely unvaccinated protesters made their way back into the centre of their illegal campsite on a Parliamentary Triangle park along Lake Burley Griffin.
There the group, who had parked trucks and cars along the green, lakeside lawns four days earlier, coalesced for meetings and announcements about their plans for the day.
A makeshift marquee had been set up along with a PA system, organised by some campers with uncanny foresight.
Being a so-called freedom movement run by the people, and devoid of political interference, the microphone was free for anyone to take in those first few days.
But late on a Thursday afternoon, that idea was challenged.
A "spiritual" man stepped up to the microphone and proposed the group of protesters walk around Old Parliament House seven times to release the "demonic" grip "satanic forces" have over it.
He spoke for a minute-and-a-half before a man walked up to the marquee and disconnected his microphone.
One lady said: "Good."
Another yelled: "We live in a democracy. You can't just pull the plug."
Seconds later, a separate woman shouted: "How big is this f**king sh*t show? What are youse f**king doing?"
On the surface, the convoy of trucks and cars that arrived on a Monday morning in the nation's capital, waving Australian flags outside windows and honking horns down the main roads, appear united.
But online, in encrypted messaging platforms, tensions and rifts are building over the power vacuum created by the self-described leader-less movement.
The banners call for the end of vaccine mandates across the country but for some, it's about more than a fight against the jab.
Across the sea of people who attend the rallies outside places of power, flags offer a quick glimpse of the types of supporters who have joined the anti-authority movement.
The Eureka Stockade and upside-down Australian and Red Ensign flags are most common.
In the mix are also Aboriginal and LGBTQI+ flags as well as the Ukrainian, Croatian and Serbian flags.
A flag for Catalonia's separatist movement has also popped up at rallies.
It's a strange scene as members of Indigenous sovereign citizen movements stand shoulder-to-shoulder with anti-vaxxers, conspiracists and evangelical groups.
Members with far-right agendas have also been spotted among the crowd.
Tussle for leadership is 'part protest, part reality TV'
But the euphoria of these disparate ideologies coming together for a common cause won't last forever, experts believe.
Elise Thomas, an intelligence analyst for extremism think tank Institute of Strategic Dialogue, has been monitoring the broad church of personalities and ideologies for months.
Camping beside each other for extended periods and under unpleasant conditions will only fuel tensions and character conflicts further, she says.
"They tend to be the most united when they are working against something but as soon as they start to talk about what they're for, that's when you start to see a lot of fractures turn up," she says.
"They realise the person they've been marching beside this whole time actually wants very different things from what they want."
While many wearing masks might feel unwelcome in the campsite, which has since moved to Mitchell's Exhibition Park in Canberra, most of the daily interactions and happenings can be witnessed through public livestreams.
Disagreements over who has the microphone at rallies and campsite announcements, and what message they send with it, unfold through streams set up by influencers within the movement.
Clashes between the loosely-structured leadership team, and how interstate and overseas viewers react, play out in real-time.
Thomas says it's become like a bad reality TV show you can't peel your eyes off.
"They've become this weird combination of part protest, part reality TV show, because all of these people are constantly livestreaming, constantly taking photos and producing social media content," she said.
"Every time they have a little spat, somebody livestreams it and then they all go off and do their different pieces to camera, almost like in a reality TV show."
And just like allegiances in a game show or factions in a political party, each has its figureheads.
There's the former Qantas pilot and Seventh-day Adventist, Graham Hood, who alleges he was sacked for opposing aviation vaccine mandates. He's been appointed as a spokesperson of the rally and pushes for a "peaceful" end to mandates.
Former special forces officer Riccardo Bosi, often seen donning his old military uniform, wants to take it a step further - dismiss all sitting members and reform the electoral system.
He's also stated officers in Australia's intelligence agencies along with public servants should be investigated for sedition and treason, in footage seen by The Canberra Times.
The focus of demands between the two leadership figures has resulted in a bitter rivalry, which has extended to some of their supporters.
The rift deepened further on Tuesday when Mr Hood and other organisers were invited into Parliament House by United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly.
The group drafted a list of demands, calling for an end to vaccine mandates, an investigation into COVID-19 "misconduct" and compensation for those who lost their jobs for not getting the jab.
Mr Bosi, who opposes all politicians including Mr Kelly, said the group of "self-appointed leaders" had only consulted a handful of people and were not "running the show".
"Listen to everybody, believe no one, make up your own mind," he repeated to campers at EPIC on Thursday morning.
"When someone says 'this is the people's demands', you've got to ask yourself 'well, did they ask me?'"
It was a inevitable for a leader-less movement, Thomas believes.
"Where there's a vacuum, you get a bunch of people rushing to fill it," she says.
"And a bunch of scrambling behind the scenes for who's going to be on top of the pile."
But beyond the tussles for control of the movement, the people making up the numbers remain mostly undeterred.
'We've got no jobs, nowhere to go'
A number of protesters gathering at Glebe Park on Thursday afternoon told The Canberra Times they were in it for the long run.
Some felt more strongly about vaccine mandates while others focused their anger at the authorities they felt had left them behind.
The common thread for many of them, however, was they had nothing to go back home to.
Some had lost their jobs for refusing to get vaccinated, others had been socially ostracised from family, friends and colleagues.
"We've got no jobs, half these people have lost their houses, they've got nowhere to go," one protester says.
Levi West, a terrorism lecturer at Charles Sturt University, believes this is part of the tragedy of online radicalisation.
The pandemic had isolated many from human contact and forced them into online worlds.
As ASIO boss Mike Burgess revealed this week, social media platforms, like Telegram, operated like radical "echo chambers" for the disillusioned.
Government and authorities were easy causes to rally folks on the fringe of society around, West says.
"The more nebulous the 'other', the easier it is to mobilise people, because then you don't actually have to hold anyone accountable," he says.
"But you can channel that anger and those grievances and you can push people into protests like this."
But he agrees the convoy's threads will eventually unravel as what unites them simultaneously works to dismantle them.
"If you went out and did a vox pop with 100 people, you'd get 100 different answers," he says.
"It's not cohesive, they don't have a Mein Kampf holding it together."
Where to after camp's packed up?
While the coalition seems to be fraying, one expert is also surprised at improvements in planning compared to earlier attempts.
Australian National University researcher Simon Copland says earlier anti-mandate coalitions, as seen in Melbourne last year, were spontaneous whereas Canberra's rallies were more coordinated.
Part of the reason is the use of messaging apps, like Telegram.
Many state convoys arranged meeting places and times through the app while the primary organisers kept supporters across protest plans within the capital, Copland says.
Links to livestreams, pictures of the day's happenings and messages from anti-vaccine and sovereign citizen "influencers" have kept those inside the camp, and outside, across what has been happening.
So, when does it end?
The cracks are showing and the rallies seem to be fizzing but it's unlikely we'll be seeing the end of it, even if the convoy packs up camp after the weekend.
Mr Burgess flagged in his threat assessment this week these issue-focused coalitions will remain a feature of Australian life for the foreseeable future.
If it's not anti-vaccine or anti-mask protests, Copland says it will be in a similar vein.
"You're starting to see this broader argument about freedom and government interference in people's lives - that there's too much government and COVID [mandates and restrictions are] the epitome of that," he says.
But Thomas says parallels can be drawn with other conspiracy movements overseas and how they fizzled out.
Far-right conspiracy theorists, such as those following the pro-Trump Qanon movement, attach themselves to unattainable goals.
"For years and years and years there, [Qanon supporters] just strung themselves along with this sort of promised date for when the Great Awakening would happen," she says.
"It was always just over the horizon."
Eventually the motivations and ideologies change, but the disillusionment remains.
After Saturday's rally, there's been discussion over whether the camp should pack up and return at the end of March for more demonstrations.
But by then, a new cause to get behind could be just over the horizon.
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