Thousands of fans have taken advantage of Victoria’s first AFL public holiday to take part in Melbourne’s annual grand final parade.
This year’s parade route has been changed for the first time in years, with the parade to start in Spring Street and end at Yarra Park, next to the MCG.
In previous years, it took place in the CBD, allowing office workers to watch it during their lunch breaks.
Those workers seem to have been replaced by a large contingent of West Coast Eagles fans, who have crossed the Nullabor to support their team’s bid for victory over Hawthorn.
The Eagles were bolstered by one group of disappointed Fremantle fans who held up a sign with “Go Freo” crossed out to read “Go Eagles”.
“We support WA,” yelled the group.
While the Hawks’ yellow and brown were the most common colours in the crowd, many other AFL fans were happy to wear their jersey and make the most of a sunny spring day in Melbourne as temperatures reached 25 degrees.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is likely to catch part of the parade after he meets with the AFL Advisory Council on Friday, despite lamenting the lack of excitement in the lead-up to the parade at midday.
“Very peaceful trip on no 11 tram – eerily quiet on a public holiday! Miss the people & excitement of grand final eve,” Mr Turnbull tweeted on Friday morning.
Crowd numbers for Friday’s grand final parade are expected to be down on previous years because of the new public holiday.
Industry groups have slammed the public holiday and say it’s costing the state $25 million an hour, but Premier Daniel Andrews insists it’s worth it.
Mr Andrews has hit back at critics of the holiday, saying “it’s hard to put a price on family time.”
“Overall, regional tourism is getting a huge boost out of this,” he told 3AW on Friday.
“Think about all those families in the outer suburbs who will be able to come in today with their kids and be part of this – they’ve never been allowed to previously.”