>>>Nimbin: return to the 70s
Photo: Lismore City Council

Nimbin: return to the 70s

Active communes, caravans decorated with the peace symbol and psychedelic t-shirts, all in the wilderness. We travel in time, to Nimbin, the last hippie paradise.
A
struggling cattle town became home to the Aquarius revolution back in 1973. Hundreds of young people in search of a place to belong found Nimbin, Australia, the perfect setting for the Aquarius Festival. Mount Warning overlooks the valley where more than 10,000 people gathered for the Australian Woodstock. During that summer of love, underground culture, the exaltation of freedom, and a closeness to nature gave rise to the birth of the hippie movement in Australia.
From the summit of Mount Warning, you will be the first to welcome the new dawn, this being the first point on continental Australia to catch a glimpse of the sunrise.
Photo: Lismore City Council

Let the sunshine in

Abandoned farms amid tropical jungle, waterfalls and volcanic soils. Nature rules in Nimbin Valley, considered a sacred place by the native Bundjlung people. An extinct volcano sleeps under Mount Warning, alongside Killen Falls and the Big Scrub tropical jungle.

Hippies went to Nimbin and stayed. Many attendees at the festival settled in the town and formed communes, like Tuntable Falls—still active today, with 200 members—seeking to construct new ways of sustainable life. Four decades later, peculiar architecture, flowery vans and psychedelic drawings make Nimbin the perfect setting for getting stuck in time. Part of the blame belongs to Vernon Treweeke, father of Australian psychedelic art. With the idea of recycling old buildings for the festival, he decided to draw hundreds of rainbows, which still decorate the façades today.
Beyond aesthetics, the original community spirit that managed to fill the region with hope endures. In 1979, they managed to convince the New South Wales regional government to impose a law prohibiting the felling of the jungle. The Greenies movement remains active today, promoting political awareness in protecting the environment. A slow, creative lifestyle is promoted through actions like the Nimbin Youth Film Festival, support for consuming local products, and well-being activities, like yoga and meditation. Numerous art projects in the area can be found at Nimbin Museum, which also conserves records of the town’s history since the Aquarius revolution.
The markets reflect the random nature of this place. You can buy everything from handicrafts and second-hand objects, to plants and homemade food.
Photo: RENATO SEIJI KAWASAKI / Shutterstock.com
With a rural population of about 10,000 people distributed throughout the area, and about 350 registered residents in the town alone, Nimbin is surviving the new century and continues attracting backpackers, lifestylers, aspiring hippies and musicians. In the words of writer Austin Pick: “Nimbin is a strange place indeed. It is as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains.” In the gardens here, cannabis plants are farmed alongside vegetables. Although it is only legal to consume derivatives, the locals proudly defend it as another one-up they have scored against the system.
Far from being trends, yoga and meditation form part of the lifestyle in this town.
Photo: Lismore City Council
At night, dust from the street mixes with farmhouse lights, marijuana smoke and jungle sounds. Poetry and jazz can be heard emanating from some of the bars, like the legendary Rainbow Café. The summer of love may be long gone, but its essence survives. “Sometimes I question why I live here,” Mandie, Tuntable Falls founder, confesses, “and then some really lovely thing will happen and you realise all over again that you live here for that closeness to people, and I guess that spontaneity and creativity that just happens”.

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