Watch: Indigenous Australians hold 'Invasion Day' rally in Melbourne

Thousands of people joined Invasion Day protests in cities across Australia Sunday to mark the beginning of British colonisation of the vast continent.

January 26 is officially recognised as Australia Day, a public holiday to celebrate the origins of the modern nation and is commemorated with fireworks, concerts and citizenship ceremonies.

However, the date is a time of mourning for indigenous Australians, who have inhabited the land for 65,000 years and view the arrival of British settlers in 1788 as heralding two centuries years of pain and suffering.

Annual rallies have steadily grown in size as protesters bring attention to injustices faced by indigenous people and call on the government to change the date of Australia Day.

It was only formally established as a nation-wide celebration in 1994.

This year, non-indigenous Australians were asked to give reparations in the form of a donation to the #PayTheRent campaign.

Chants of "Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land" rang out as large crowds marched through the city.

Some waved the Aboriginal flag while others held aloft signs with slogans such as "No Pride in Genocide" and "Sovereignty Was Never Ceded".