Field Report: Nimbin, Australia – Where flower power retired

Nimbin is a hard place to spend money. You will find that much of the town is free to browse, the area almost feels like entertainment in itself. We spent around $40 dollars on food and drink but this was out of choice. Nimbin is very backpacker friendly so we were able to park our van off a side street and sleep for the night cost free.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?
This small town is strange in itself. If you think the flower power era died, you’re wrong, it retired to the hills of New South Wales. The feeling of a bohemian left wing society resonates from every glass fronted building. The town is radiant in bright colours from yellows to oranges to luminous greens. Not a dash of dull colour is wasted on the walls and door frames. You don’t need to step out of the van to be overwhelmed with happiness.

You’ll spot the odd skateboarding OAP, an abundance of dreadlocks and beards, many musicians, writers and artists alike. Amongst all of this, the very backbone of the town is the use of alternative ‘herbs’ and the strong unity it has between locals and travellers alike.

Describe a typical day:
Nimbin only needs a day or two at most if your enjoying the vibe.

We drove in from Byron Bay. This can be just over an hour and a half without stopping for a coffee. If a space can be found amongst the variety of campervans that line the streets then you can park up and walk everywhere on foot.

We stopped by the local information centre and picked up a few leaflets on what was happening in and around the town. Our first stop was the Nimbin Hemp Embassy. This is where you will find lots of Hemp and Nimbin memorabilia. Small pieces of Nimbin’s history and community are displayed here. The most interesting of which is the history of the “Mardi Grass” festival, a celebration for Marajuana. Although use of Marajuana is still illegal in Australia, Mardi Grass allows the town to come alive and voice their own opinion of the current Australian Laws. From the many photographs and videos on show it’s seems to bring the town’s heart beat to the surface with a celebration of colour and music.
Among the various displays at the Embassy you’ll find sculptures from many of the previous Mardi Grass festivals hanging from the walls and ceilings.

Nimbin has a selection of alternative cafés but we were recommended The Rainbow Cafe. A selection of salads, burgers, and other meals are on offer with a great choice of drinks. I recommend their strawberry shake. The café is in keeping with the towns laid back, colourful, hippy like vibe and the staff were very friendly. It was nice to watch the world go by and soak up the atmosphere as I tucked into a gorgeous homemade cheeseburger.

Then it’s off to the Nimbin Museum. Multiple rooms detail the history of Nimbin and it’s surrounding areas. We learned about the intriguing Aquarius Festival and just what prosperity it bough the this community. The museum has plenty to discover and is great for understanding and gaining a perspective of how this quirky town came to be.

We wondered around the various shops from Happy Herbs to a Bong shop. Each selling local products or certain contraband for alternative lifestyles.

If you want a slight reality check take a short drive out to Mt Warning. There is an 8km trek to the top, but to look out at the beautiful surrounding lands is certainly worth the walk. Take a picnic and enjoy the sunshine and a breath of fresh air.

To finish the night, it’s time for a scooner or two at the Nimbin Hotel. Locals and travellers sit alongside each other taking time to meet and greet. We were glad to have stumbled on a night of music from a local guitarist. So we settled down and enjoyed some pub grub, sat back and relaxed whilst enjoying the surroundings. Then a stumble back to sleep in the campervan!

Describe an interesting conversation:
Much of the interesting conversation can be made when conversing with local shop owners. Many of the locals seem to have settled in Nimbin rather than raised here. I was interested to understand why people settle here in Nimbin. However the most interesting ‘conversations’ you will get here are the very brief interactions in regards to local “herbs” or “special cookies”. A small glance, a quick whisper and off they would disappear as quick they had appeared. No ones pushy and they seem to respect tourists.

For anyone with a mind to visit Nimbin please don’t be deterred by it’s alternative thoughts. It is free spirited but can be enjoyed for its creative and artistic, and historical nature.

What do you like about where you are? Dislike?
I really enjoyed Nimbin, it is a hive of creativity and has a great feeling about it. The locals seem like a proud folk who enjoy their lives. It may be a simple way to live but no one seems unhappy. It almost felt like I was in a small corner of Amsterdam where everyone had found their place in the world.
Above everything else they welcome you with open arms, are happy to meet you and seem genuinely interested in who you are.
The only dislike I have is the lack of things to occupy your days. I would have loved to have spent more time just soaking up the energy. Unfortunately a thorough exploration can be done over 2 days at a steady pace.

Where next?– Gold Coast here we come

Posted by | Comments Off on Field Report: Nimbin, Australia – Where flower power retired  | April 23, 2014
Category: Destinations, Oceania

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