While most of Australia celebrates the day our land was settled, rallies have been held across the country to mourn the First Fleet’s landing and the subsequent deaths of Indigenous people.
For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at the demonstrations, Australia Day is not a day to rejoice, but rather one to lament the dispossession of Indigenous land that began at Port Jackson, Sydney on January 26, 1788.
Thousands marched in all Australian capital cities with hundreds coming together at Parliament House in Melbourne to hear Aboriginal leaders speak about Invasion Day.
“Today is the day the genocide of our people began,” one speaker told the crowd. “They don’t care, the politicians don’t care.
“This is a continent, not just a small country and it [genocide] has been going on for 228 years folks.
“They’ve perfected the art of genocide here. We owe it to our ancestors, that’s why we’re here.”
Uncle Gary Murray, an elder from Dhudhuroa First Nations who spoke on the steps of Victorian Parliament at the rally, told The New Daily what Invasion Day meant to him.
“It’s just another day in the war to fight for sovereignty, reparations and treaty,” Uncle Murray said. “We call on every white fella to sign a treaty with their traditional owners where they live.
“Politicians need to pull their finger out, get real. Generations and generation of politicians have ignored the real issue about Australia Day about reconciliation, recognition, the truth.
“We need to have our land back and we need to have our water back. We want to contribute to the economy of Australia.”
Another protestor, Colin, told The New Daily he was furious there was no Aboriginal or Koori flag being flown from Melbourne’s Town Hall on the day.
“Talk about reconciliation? That’s not reconciliation, that’s just throwing it right up against our faces,” he said.
“It’s saying you’re under dominant rule.
“We’re not saying get out of here, we’re saying this is our land and we’re happy to share it, but you’re not happy to give back what you stole.
“And these people [those watching the protest] are kept in the dark, they think it’s a great day. It’s not, it was when genocide started.”
Hundreds of protestors marched from Parliament House at the top of Bourke Street and Spring Street, down to the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street for the rally.
“Always was, always will be Aboriginal land!” and “No pride in genocide!”, the protestors chanted.
This came after a traditional burning ceremony was held in the gardens next to Victorian Parliament.
At each intersection down Bourke Street and then Swanston Street, organisers stopped the crowd to form a circle for chanting, traditional dancing and impromptu speeches.
Tourists and locals walking through the Melbourne CBD gathered to stop and watch the noisy protestors move through the streets.
The protestors included a mix of Indigenous Australians and white Australians both young an old.
“This is all about getting a treaty happening. You can’t have a republic without getting a treaty with the native people,” Colin said.
“It’s passed time for a treaty, it’s well and truly due.
“Apart from America, this is the only country in the world that celebrates a genocide. Ours is lasting for 228 years and its still going.”
The controversial Socialist Alternative group were well represented at the march, with banners, placards and protestors.
At one point, the protest stopped in front of the Melbourne Town Hall on Swanston Street, where hours earlier an Australia Day march began.
That march was capped off with an Australian flag raising ceremony attended by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
In Sydney, a protest organised by the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the Indigenous Social Justice Association, marched from The Block in the inner west suburb of Redfern to the CBD where the Sydney City Council had Australia Day celebrations.
Meantime, more than 500 protesters marched outside Tasmania’s Parliament House, calling on Premier Will Hodgman to put pressure on the Prime Minister to change the date of the national holiday.
A large crowd of a Aboriginal activists and supporters has rallied outside Queensland’s Parliament House in protest against Invasion Day.
Also supporting the plight of Indigenous Australians on Australia Day was Google, who made it’s Google doodle logo for the day an artwork to recognise Aboriginal culture.
“Doodle 4 Google 2015 was won by Ineka Voigt from Canberra High School in ACT, for her entry “Stolen Dreamtime’,” Google said.
“In response to the theme of ‘If I could travel back in time I would …’ Ineka wrote that: ‘I would reunite mother and child. A weeping mother sits in an ochre desert, dreaming of her children and a life that never was …all that remains is red sand, tears and the whispers of her stolen dreamtime'”.
Below is a series of images and footage of Melbourne’s Invasion Day Rally:
— Calla Wahlquist (@callapilla) January 26, 2016
— Anthony Colangelo (@AnthColangelo) January 26, 2016
– with ABC