Prams, puppies and even Peppa Pig were the flavour of Melbourne's ‘‘Bust the Budget’’ rally at St Kilda Road’s Queen Victoria Gardens, opposite the Arts Centre, on Sunday.
Thousands converged there before marching to Parliament House to oppose the Abbott Government's proposed first budget.
Designed to capture the attention of senators returning to Parliament on Monday, the rally - one of several staged today across Australia - saw union members and activists march alongside the elderly and their families.
They protested against a range of new budget measures including the introduction of fees to visit a GP, the deregulation of tertiary education, and a broken promise to not cut the ABC's budget.
The crowd swelled from hundreds before the mooted kick-off time at 1pm, and estimates of total numbers gathered for the march in Melbourne varied from between 12,000 up to 20,000.
Luke Hilakari, Victorian Trades Hall campaigns officer, said that this rally was particularly special because, for the first time, over 80 different community groups, including churches and environment organisations, were uniting for a single cause.
"We want Tony Abbott to scrap this budget," Mr Hilakari told protesters. "We reckon rallies like this give courage to senators to stand up for all Australians."
Strewn amongst the banners flagging the presence of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the Australian Services Union were a range of hand-crafted signs promoting more personal agendas, including "turtles need a safe climate," "unicorns say no!" (held aloft by a small girl in a unicorn onesie) and a poster featuring the perennially disapproving internet-star "Grumpy Cat."
The family-friendly nature of the event was evident just prior to Mr Hilakari's speech when, as a folk band was entertaining the crowd with a Bob Marley-style protest song, a little girl complained that she hadn't had an opportunity to pet any of the spoodles, boxers and other dogs in attendance. Her father assured her there would be plenty of chances as the crowd made its way up Swanston St to Parliament (which also saw a newlywed-couple briefly lead the procession).
Ell Jung, from Mentone about 20 kilometres south of Melbourne, brought her two-and-a-half year-old son to the rally, and said the diverse turn-out demonstrated the Abbott government's budget had rankled the community.
"I think that people from all walks of life have come here today to show their disapproval for the budget," Ms Jung said.
Earlier in the day the beloved pastor Father Bob channeled the spirit of the banners billowing along St Kilda Rd, promoting the recently-opened musical Les Miserables - the French Revolution-era production whose title-song asks "Can you hear the people sing?" -- when he Tweeted "All we are singing is Fair Go for All."