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'Invasion Day' Rallies Draw Tens Of Thousands Across The Country

Despite the sweltering heat in most capitals, huge crowds turned out to protest Australia Day being celebrated on January 26 in rallies held across the country.

In Melbourne alone, at least 6000 people gathered at the march, with protesters pushing through police lines at Parliament House.

The crowd made its way down Bourke Street to Federation Square, escorted by dozens of police including officers on horses who were leading the way.

READ MORE: Changing Australia Day Date 'Just The First Step' For Indigenous Peoples

Rally organisers used speakers to spur on crowds who chanted "let us through, let us through", as they attempted to push past police barriers.

The rally started with a minute silence and speeches railing against Aboriginal deaths in custody, calling for an end to children being taken from family care and references a recent spate of Indigenous suicide among children.

"What do we want? Land rights. When do we want it? Now," the crowd in Victoria yelled.

Thousands more gathered in other cities to protest the the celebration of Australia's national day on January 26, as well as the impact of colonisation on Indigenous people.

In Sydney protesters marched from Hyde Park to Victoria Park , with many holding signs including "change the date" and "justice now".

Crowds battled the scorching heat with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting temperatures to hit 34 degrees.

Led by local community elders, the protesters stretched three city blocks on Saturday, as they marched from the CBD to Victoria Park in Camperdown.

Brisbane's Invasion Day march was also held in a searing 33 degree heat, at the same time, other parts of the city saw official events marking the anniversary of the First Fleet arrival in 1788.

The 'change the date' movement has seen increasing debate in the public sphere.

In the weeks leading up to January 26, the government repeatedly said it would not consider changing the national day.

READ MORE: Australia Day Citizenship Ceremonies To Become Compulsory

Many protesters held various signs calling on the government to 'change the date' and draped Indigenous flags around statues and across the streets.

With AAP

Featured Image: Instagram

At a rally and have photos or video to share? Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au