The crowd at the Wugulora Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo today. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images
The crowd at the Wugulora Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo today. Picture: Cole Bennetts/Getty Images

Thousands at ‘invasion day’ rallies

MASSIVE crowds have gathered in cities across the country as 'invasion day' rallies kick off.

Swarms of people have people have filled Hyde Park in Sydney this morning, carrying flags and signs to protest Australia Day and what it represents.

Hundreds of people have also filled the streets of Melbourne, chanting, "Always was, always will be Aboriginal land".

About 600 people started their day at the Melbourne invasion day dawn service, acknowledging and mourning the frontier wars and Aboriginal massacres.

The service at Kings Domain - where the bodies of 38 Victorian first nations people are buried - included speeches, a minute's silence, a smoking and ochre ceremony and the reading out of known massacre sites across the state.

"This country stops for a horse race, it stops for an AFL grand final, it stops for the Queen's birthday and it stops for an Anzac service and we don't have ever a time where this country stands still to reflect on first peoples of this country and the pain and suffering we've endured since colonisation," said Gunnai-Kurnai and Gunditjmara woman and former Northcote MP Lidia Thorpe.

At Sydney's protest, Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement this week of a multimillion-dollar project to "rediscover" Captain James Cook "went down like a lead balloon".

Mr Morrison announced $6.7 million in funding for a replica of Captain Cook's famous ship the Endeavour to circumnavigate Australia over 14 months, stopping at 39 locations along the coast.

He was crucified on social media over the controversial project, which many slammed as a waste of money.

Anti-Australia Day protesters hold a banner saying
Anti-Australia Day protesters hold a banner saying "Abolish Australia Day" over the side of the Westminster Bridge in London. Picture: AAP

Protests today have even travelled as far as the UK, with an "Abolish Australia Day" sign seen draped over the Westminster Bridge in London.

About 30 protesters held the banner off the bridge as throngs of tourists walked by on a cold and cloudy Friday afternoon.

London Australia Solidarity Activism Hub spokeswoman Eda Sehyan said the action was in solidarity with Australia's indigenous people.

People have commented how invasion day protests are dwarfing Australia Day celebrations, indicating it is time to change the date.

It's a divisive issue that comes up every year, with The Project host Waleed Aly this week throwing up new suggestions.

This January 26 marks 231 years since the First Fleet landed in Port Jackson.

But for a growing community of Australians the day has become a symbol of inequity and institutionalised harm.

Invasion day activists contest that Australia Day enforces a false narrative of an Australia that began on this day, and forgets a preceding history.

- with AAP