Mixed emotions reigned on Australia Day in Melbourne with thousands turning out to protest the event while firefighters who battled bushfires led the official parade.
Thousands of people rallied at Parliament House in Melbourne to mark Invasion Day - to counter the celebration of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.
Indigenous speakers addressed the crowd and told those assembled January 26 was a day of mourning.
Elder Robbie Thorpe said it was a day of mourning and told protesters he attended the dawn service at the Kings Domain Resting Place.
The location is the commemorative burial place of 38 Victorian Aboriginal people whose remains were repatriated.
"We need to heal the ancestors' spirits for this country to move forward," Mr Thorpe, a Krautungalung man of the Gunnai Nation, said on Sunday.
Far-right figure Avi YemIni was led away from the Invasion Day marchers by police as protesters made their way through the city.
But while thousands protested, others took part in the official Australia Day parade to celebrate the state's cultural diversity.
Firefighters who battled the blaze at Mallacoota, in the state's east, led the official parade through the city.
The bushfire at the small coastal community left thousands trapped on the beach while the smoke from the blaze blocked the sun.
"Very emotional, huge honour. Especially seeing the crowd and the appreciation that came from that," Mallacoota Fire Brigade captain Rod Lewis said of leading the parade.
"Our primary focus was the loss of life, keep it to absolutely none and we done that. That was our motivation," he said of the battle to save the isolated community.
Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews addressed the official flag raising ceremony and paid tribute to those who worked to tackle the bushfire crisis.
"This Australia Day is special, it's a little bit different because we have seen in the last few months the most extraordinary examples of courage and kindness, compassion and capability...and so many acts of generosity," Mr Andrews said.
He thanked the emergency services workers and defence force personnel for their service during the bushfire crisis and noted it was still ongoing.
"We have seen the worst of nature and the best of the Australian spirit," he said.
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.
Police are maintaining a strong presence on the roads as part of a long weekend operation aimed at preventing deaths, particularly those fuelled by drink and drug driving.
Australian Associated Press
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