A growing sea of flowers and tributes has turned Martin Place in to a temporary memorial to the victims of the Sydney siege.
The floral shrine began with a few humble tributes in the early Tuesday morning as commuters came to work. By nightfall it had become a huge colourful mass, with people queuing around the block to contribute their own offerings and thoughts.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margie visited the site during the day to lay their own bouquets to those left by other members of the public and to sign the condolence book which had been hastily set up.
In an impromptu display of communal grief Australians came to the spot on Martin Place, near the Lindt café where the siege unfolded on Monday, to pay their respects to the victims of the siege, particularly the two hostages who lost their lives – Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.
Ordinary citizens, representing all the various faiths and backgrounds of Australian society, gathered from nearby homes workplaces while others had travelled in from the outskirts of Sydney and beyond. By the afternoon, mourners were queuing up to lay their flowers and other tributes and to leaving their messages.
As the shrine grew, police gestured to move people back to make more room.
A dignified sereneness prevailed at the scene throughout the day and evening, broken only by the din of the city, occasional crying and even hymn singing.
The Sydney siege began on Monday morning at around 9:15am when a man, Man Haron Monis, took 17 people hostage at gunpoint inside the Lindt Chocolate Café on Martin Place in the city’s central business district.
The ensuing standoff lasted over 14 hours before armed officials dramatically stormed the premises at around 2:15am on Tuesday morning, putting a tragic end to the siege. Two of the hostages were killed in the chaos while four others received gunshot wounds.
TOP IMAGE: 16: A woman places flowers as a mark of respect for the victims of Martin Place siege on December 16, 2014 in Sydney, Australia (Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)