Thousands of protesters have clashed with police in Melbourne as anger at Covid lockdown restrictions has again spilled over into violence in the city's CBD.
Police used pepper spray and made arrests as anti-lockdown protesters managed to breach a defensive line of officers, including some on horseback.
As police tried to prevent the onward march of those at the rally, a number of demonstrators rushed the line of police, breaking through and causing chaotic scenes as officers tried to tackle and hold back offenders.
Mostly, the protesters marched peacefully through the CBD on Saturday afternoon.
Some lit flares while others held signs reading "Vaccines kill", "Get up, stand up", and "Open schools and parks now".
The group chanted "freedom" and called for premier Daniel Andrews to be sacked.
Some allegedly threw projectiles at police.
Late on Saturday, police said six officers were hospitalised while 218 arrests were made.
Despite warnings from authorities ahead of the planned event, throngs of mostly maskless protesters defied health orders to express their frustration at the state's sixth lockdown.
Earlier this week, Melbourne notched its 200th day in lockdown during the pandemic.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton earlier said police had already handed out fines to people planning to join the rally.
"Please do not attend this demonstration, the risk of spread of the virus is significant," he said.
"Every protester who we can identify and who we can apprehend will receive a $5500 fine. It's just ridiculous to think that people would be so selfish and come and do this."
There were some 700 officers deployed to enforce Covid-19 restrictions at the protest.
Arrests at simultaneous Sydney protest
A very heavy police presence and roadside checkpoints appear to have prevented a similar protest taking place in Sydney.
More than 1500 officers were sent into Sydney's centre to prevent and respond to any unauthorised protesters with the threat of huge fines for anyone who turned up.
Taxis and Ubers have been banned from taking passengers into the CBD until 3pm on Saturday.
Taxi, rideshare and passenger services who fail to comply with the notice risk a whopping maximum penalty of $500,000, while individuals face fines of up to $100,000.
Despite the heavy threat from police, arrests were still reportedly made in Sydney as a small crowd converged on the city.
More than 200 fines were issued, police said on Saturday afternoon.
It comes as NSW recorded more than 800 daily cases for the first time.
Hundreds of people also gathered in Brisbane City Botanic Gardens on Saturday to rally against the lockdown and vaccine measures, with members of the rally also carrying signs pushing pandemic conspiracy theories.
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