Nimbin: The Most Unusual Small Town in All of Australia

Once upon a time, back in the 60s, there was a dairy farm in an area known as the ‘Rainbow Region’, which is in part of The Great Dividing Range. This is a different part of The Great Dividing Range…

The Great Dividing RangeThe dairy was struggling to make ends meet, there was a recession going on at the time. In the early 70s, the same area was chosen to host a free music event called the Aquarius Festival which was regarded as the Australian equivalent of Woodstock. Something like 5000 to 10,000 people attended this festival which was very much all about the alternative lifestyle; it was aimed at hippies.

They all had such a great time and many of them decided to stay. They purchased some land, formed a commune and they all lived happily ever after.

Welcome to Nimbin

Welcome to NimbinNimbin was just a short 20 minute drive from our weekend retreat in Kunghur, so we just had to take a look. We knew it was a big tourist attraction in the area and was pretty much regarded as Australia’s centre for counterculture and alternative thinking.

It was pouring with rain when we got there, so these aren’t the best of photographs, but I think you will get the idea…

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NimbinMore about Nimbin

‘Nimbin is notable for the prominence of its environmental initiatives such as permaculture, sustainability and self-sufficiency as well as the cannabis counterculture. Writer Austin Pick described his initial impressions of the village this way: “It is as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades. … Nimbin is a strange place indeed.

Nimbin has been described in literature and mainstream media as ‘the drug capital of Australia’, ‘a social experiment’ and ‘an escapist sub-culture’. Nimbin has become an icon in Australian cultural history with many of the values first introduced there by the counterculture becoming part of modern Australian culture.’ – Source Wikipedia.

Yes, it is definitely the drug capital of Australia. Despite that, it is an extremely friendly town that really does go against convention. Its heart is most definitely in the right place.

‘The prevalence of a drug culture in Nimbin since 1973 has been accompanied by a prevalence of collective and public creativity: colourful and spiritually motivated art (including large paintings above the shop awnings), music, poetry, craft and fashion can all be seen on the main street. The town is known as a hotspot for alternative social activities, grassroots political discourse, and the espousal of naturalist, humanist, anarchist, feminist, libertarian, permissive, new-age, mystical and radical social philosophies (which can all be seen as collective creative endeavours).’ – Source Wikipedia.

You can read so much more on the Wikipedia page about Nimbin and also on their page about the Aquarius Festival.

Nimbin: it really is Australia’s strangest small town.

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Jacqueline July 2, 2016, 7:34 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,
    I visited Nimbin back in 2003 and found it an amusing experience. I was visiting family who live near Byron Bay. I still have photos of the ‘sniffer dogs prohibited’ signs! I remember my uncle being rather suspicious of what might have been in the organic burgers!

    • BobinOz July 3, 2016, 12:47 am | Link

      Oh, it would have definitely been organic, but I still think your uncle was right to be suspicious 🙂

  • Warwick Wakefield June 16, 2016, 6:14 pm | Link

    Bob, I went Nimbin in 1990 or thereabouts.
    I was predisposed to approve of and to enjoy it; I have friends who live on various communes in the Byron Bay region.
    A friend and I walked into the Rainbow Cafe.
    Everyone there turned around to stare at us.
    I suddenly realised what they mean when they say “tombstones in their eyes.”

    After five seconds, or less, we turned and left.
    We have never been back.
    Cheers,
    Warwick.

    • BobinOz June 17, 2016, 6:53 pm | Link

      Sounds like a scene from one of those westerns where the pianist stops playing when someone from out of town walks into the saloon.

      Maybe Nimbin didn’t like strangers in town so much back in those days.

      • Warwick Wakefield June 18, 2016, 11:21 am | Link

        Hi Bob,
        well, the Rainbow Cafe was not the entirety of Nimbin, just the centre of it.

        It wasn’t that the customers didn’t like strangers; what was happening was that the barely moving cogs in their heroin addled minds were playing their fixed “I wonder if we can rip off these straights,” routine.

        I imagine most of that lot are dead by now. The earth doesn’t tolerate too much of that kind of obscenity.

        Cheers,
        Warwick.

        • BobinOz June 18, 2016, 10:49 pm | Link

          Crikey Warwick, that must’ve been some kinda stare they gave you back then!

          • Warwick Wakefield June 19, 2016, 2:23 pm | Link

            Something to make your blood run cold.

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