Qld marks Australia Day, Invasion Day

Nicholas McElroy
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INVASION DAY RALLY BRISBANE

Protesters in Brisbane have called for an end to the celebration of Australia Day on January 26

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

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 on Sunday 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.

Elsewhere in Brisbane, live music will play at the South Bank Parklands and a fireworks display will take place from 7.30pm.

Australia Day celebrations will continue across 370 parks spread over the city, with the council providing free barbecues for anyone who wants to cook up a feast outdoors.

Further south, in Logan, 150 people will be welcomed as new Australians in a citizenship ceremony on Sunday.

The city's top citizen and top young citizen will also be revealed.

In Cairns, women's advocate Yolonde Entsch was recognised as the city's Citizen of the Year for her dedication to empowering disadvantaged women in Cairns, Doomadgee and Papua New Guinea.

Gold Coast revellers can enjoy rounds of beach volleyball or an official pool party at the Aquatic Centre in Southport, while fireworks kick off at 7.45pm.

Donations are being collected on site for volunteer firefighters and communities grappling with drought, while Wildcare Australia is running a pouch decorating activity for rescued joeys that have been affected by the bushfires.