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Thousands take to the streets during 'Invasion Day' protests

Thousands have begun gathering for protests demanding the date of Australia Day be changed, while the rest of the country celebrates.

Rallies and marches are planned to coincide with official events throughout the day with hundreds of people already massed in the CBDs of major cities.

A protester was arrested in Brisbane before the event got into full swing as was seen being led away by police outside the treasury buildings. 

Thousands have begun gathering for protests demanding the date of Australia Day be changed, while the rest of the country celebrates

A protester was arrested in Brisbane before the event got into full swing as was seen being led away by police outside the treasury buildings

Three-year-old Jre Simpson from Moree is seen during the Invasion Day rally in Brisbane

Jesse Randall was another rallying in Brisbane as hundreds of people massed in the CBDs of major cities

Australia Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships into Port Jackson on January 26, 1788.

Before the sun even rose in on Australia Day, mixed emotions about the national holiday were on full display in Melbourne.

Hundreds of people attended a dawn service marking what they say is Invasion Day - which aims to counter celebration of the January 26 anniversary of the First Fleet's arrival in 1788.

The event commemorated all Indigenous people who died in conflict with white settlers during colonisation and others who more recently died in custody.

Koomurri dancers arrive for the smoking ceremony during the WugulOra Morning Ceremony on Australia Day at Walumil Lawns in Sydney on Australia Day

Koomurri dancers preform the smoking ceremony on the morning of Australia Day

Spectators attend a vigil on the eve of Australia Day, at Barangaroo in Sydney, Saturday, January 25

Indigenous dancers perform a smoking ceremony during a vigil on the eve of Australia Day

Torres Strait Islanders perform during a vigil on Saturday

The location, at the Kings Domain Resting Place, is the commemorative burial site of 38 Victorian Aboriginal people whose remains were repatriated.

The annual Invasion Day protest march will be held later in Melbourne's CBD at the same time as the city's official Australia Day Parade.

More than 2,000 people will be part of the official parade, celebrating the state's cultural diversity.

Before the parade, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, Victorian Governor General Linda Dessau and others will attend an official flag raising ceremony.

Aboriginal Elders perform a cleansing ceremony at Barangaroo in Sydney

Celebrations will roll on with the annual Australia Day Festival at Kings Domain Gardens from 11am and evening entertainment at the Docklands.

Musicians Mitch Tambo, Mantra and Tanya George will be among performers.

A fireworks show originally planned for the event was cancelled earlier this month because staff at Parks Victoria - which support the display - have been flat out dealing with the state's bushfire crisis.

In Sydney, Australia Day began with the WugulOra Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Australia Day this year comes during a 'difficult time' as the state comes to terms with the impact of the devastating fires, the lives lost and the impact on wildlife and the land.

The premier called for renewed public discussion about how the ancient knowledge of Aboriginal people can be used to better protect the environment and communities.

'These devastating bushfires encourage us as a community to reflect on Aboriginal practices that sustained this land for millennia,' she said. 

The annual Invasion Day protest march will be held later in Melbourne's CBD. Pictured: Koomurri dancers watch on as a boat arrives at Walumil Lawns in Sydney on Australia Day

The morning ceremony began with a welcome to country by Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon who said January 26 will always be a 'sombre' day for Aboriginal people.

She asked everyone present at Barangaroo Reserve to stand for a minute's silence.

'On this day 232 years ago it was a beginning of devastation for the First Nations people of this country,' she sad.

'Since 1938 this has been a day of mourning for our people, one that has plagued our communities and our families.'

Spectators watch on during a performance on the eve of Australia Day

The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council chairperson said indigenous people are inclusive of everyone but they aren't always treated the same way.

She told the ceremony theirs is the oldest living culture in the world.

'Whether you call this Invasion Day, Survival Day or Australia Day, know this country didn't begin 232 years ago,' she said.

'It was here, we were here before time began.'

After the speeches, the national anthem was sung in both the Eora language and English by the KARI singers and Isaiah Firebrace as the Aboriginal and Australian flags were raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a dawn service marking what they say is Invasion Day. Pictured: A boy at a vigil on the eve of Australia Day on Saturday