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Thousands protest Australia Day in Brisbane

Thousands have turned out for Brisbane's Invasion Day rally with signs including "colonialism cooked this country" and "abolish Australia".

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Some took to the streets to protest Australia’s colonial past. Source: 1 NEWS

Organisers say the lead-up to January 26, marking the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, felt more like a funeral to many First Nations people.

But for several speakers in Brisbane's Queens Gardens today the demonstrations were about more than just changing the date of Australia's national holiday.

Activist Bob Weatherill told the crowd his primary focus was not on changing the date and "playing around with all these token little things".

"I want to see justice in this country," Mr Weatherill said.

"We need to sit down and talk and they need to recognise the leadership."

Organiser Boe Spearim says demonstrations had grown in recent years.


"There's a massive consciousness shift in the way people are thinking about this date," Mr Spearim told media.


"I think people who are thinking this day needs to change should think about supporting Aboriginal people throughout the whole year as well."

He said the day did not feel like a celebration.

"The lead-up to Australia Day is pretty much like a funeral for us," Mr Spearim said.

The opening of demonstrations were briefly marred by a confrontation and a scuffle after a man walked on stage.

After speeches in front of a plaque to Queen Victoria, which had been covered by an Australian Aboriginal Flag, thousands marched to Musgrave Park in Brisbane's south.

Led by Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the procession at one point stretched about 650m from Queens Gardens to Victoria Bridge.

Protestors also turned out in Melbourne and Sydney.

More than 10,000 protesters marched from Sydney's Hyde Park to Victoria Park in Camperdown arguing that January 26 marks "invasion day" for Aboriginal people.

Among the protesters were indigenous NRL players Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell from the South Sydney Rabbitohs.