Unity was the key message as a crowd of about 2000 - First Nations people as well as non-Indigenous supporters - took part in a day of mourning and, later, cultural celebration to mark January 26.
Awabakal, Wonnaruah and Wiradjuri leaders spoke to the crowd at Civic Park about truth, mourning, healing and "coming together to move forward" on Tuesday morning.
"In welcoming you here today, I acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded by the Awaba people," Aunt Tracey Hanshaw said.
"Australia has no treaty with its Indigenous peoples. Like many Indigenous nations, the Awaba people have experienced significant imposed upheaval from our country since first contact here in Newcastle in 1802. But despite this, we remain strongly connected to this country of our ancestors. We are the traditional custodians of this land.
"The invasion of Australia had a devastating effect on our First Nations peoples. I acknowledge the loss of our lands, our culture, our heritage and all that was treasured. I acknowledge the consequences of this loss for all First Nations peoples, our tribes, our lands and our country.
"Let us remember: under this concrete and asphalt this was and always will be Aboriginal land."
Taylah Gray, a proud young Wiradjuri woman, read a moving piece of spoken word poetry she recently wrote, called 'Australia'.
"This nation gives us so much pain, but here we are making diamonds out of it," Ms Gray said.
"I think it's important to express that no matter how bad you have been to a people, there is still time to treat them good.
"We are not a broken nation, we are just wounded and incomplete. But we can be victorious if we just let one another speak.
"So today, please, put your differences aside, historians have their eyes on us. Let's rebuild, recover and reconcile each other's trust. We want to love and embrace you but you have to love and embrace us back."
COVID-19 restrictions meant the march from Civic Park through Newcastle CBD to Foreshore Park had to be broken into four separate groups.
Traditional songs and dances were performed at Foreshore Park in the afternoon, where a large banner in the grass carried the message "still strong, still sovereign".
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