The Haight Ashbury of the South Pacific, Nimbin is a haven for boho travelers in need of yoga rejuvenation, a tarot reading or a vegan feast.
This postage-stamp-sized town rests in the foothills of an extinct volcano, and most of the residents live life like it’s still the Summer of Love. Be warned, spend too long in Nimbin and you might neglect to pursue the American dream permanently.
WHEN TO GO
Pretty much any time except winter (summertime in the US). While summer can get uncomfortably hot, it is much cooler in the south of Australia than the north. Fall and spring are ideal, particularly the latter, when the fields are alive with wildflowers.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
Most travelers merely pass through Nimbin on their way up and down the coast, but it’s well worth a night or two. If you can’t spare the time, however, the town is day trip distance from major business centers such as Brisbane, the Gold coast and Lismore, and an hour and a half from the famous surfing beaches around Byron Bay.
It’s not known as “the rainbow region” for nothing — witness the kaleidoscope of colors fanning the sky after a storm, and you’ll understand how a corporate lackey’s thoughts could turn to transcendental meditation. What’s more, Nimbin’s sub-tropical climate proffers idyllic creeks and waterfalls, rolling forested hills, and wallabies hopping through the paddocks at dawn. Add breath-taking views of Mt. Warning and the Border Ranges and this bucolic setting becomes a nature-lover’s paradise.
MOST UNUSUAL ATTRACTIONS
Originally a dairy-farming town, much of the current population of Nimbin mushroomed from the Aquarius alternative lifestyle festival held in 1973. The result is a community dedicated to finding sustainable alternatives to the current economic system. The hundreds of communes in and around Nimbin range from two or three friends to vast farmlands occupied by hundreds. Should you find yourself flat-broke here, you’ll have no problem swapping goods or services for a place to crash and all the lentils you can chew.
BEST ACTIVITIES AND TOURS
It’s not unusual for spontaneous festivities to break out on the streets of Nimbin, such as drumming at sunset or fire-dancing in the streets. The Aquarius Fair markets are held on the third Sunday of every month in the Community center grounds on Cullen Street, and the Mardigrass Drug Law Reform Rally happens every year in May.
At the Permaculture Education Centre and ERDA Institute, visitors can tour the gardens, eco-buildings and working Permaculture systems, or participate in training programs, internships or farm-stays. It’s also a great place for those interested in the healing arts – be they yoga, meditation, acupuncture or past life regression. Courses abound.
- Nimbin Hotel & Backpackers
Cheap and clean lodgings, live bands, meals and great mountain views.
- Crofton Retreat
- +61 02 66890030
Away from the center of town, this comfy and affordable hotel is situated on a farm 4km from Nimbin. website
- At the Amsterdamesque Hemp Bar, travelers and locals alike sip coffee and puff contentedly while browsing the latest information about medicinal cannabis and the state of global cannabis law reform.
- The Cave offers a vast variety of vegetarian food, coffees, cakes and freshly squeezed fresh juices.
- At the non-profit, community-funding Timbarra Café, chai, cakes, coffee and vegetarian food are served by a staff of volunteers.
- Nimbin’s many organic growers means an abundance of delectable fresh produce is available in the local shops.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS
To enable you to better appreciate the splendid vistas of Nimbin, the town’s main drag features several shops selling legal aids purported to be mind altering (including seeds from reputedly hallucinogenic plants and herbs that claim to simulate the effects of marijuana). If this doesn’t do it for you, more street vendors hawk more “special” brownies in Nimbin than there are tie-dyed t-shirts.
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