We might think that hippie movement belongs to the ‘60s and ‘70s, but a village called Nimbin is resisting the future. Over there, we prefer Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix rather than materialism, consumerism and conformism...and canibalism. Art, alternative culture, flower power and mostly marijuana prevail. Hmm makes you wanna go over there, right ? In order to be methodological, I thought that I have to go and see this for myself. I took my best baba cool outfit, my colourful van (with flowers of course) and went closer to check out what looks like Australia’s Woodstock.
Lost in the mountains at 128km south of Brisbane, where I took up home for a year, is Nimbin, a unique town in Australia. All started in 1973, when students had the idea of celebrating the alternative lifestyle and marijuana by creating the “Aquarius Festival". It has been a huge success. Students decided to stay with the ambition to create a permanent paradise. They did it: Nimbin has become a capital for hippies.
It is in the early hours, with albino rabbit eyes and a ferreet breath of that I arrive in town. I had time to throw up three times because of the winding road leading to this lost village, but finally, here I am, ready with my camera in the hand to discover this heaven on Earth. Barely had time to make two steps when an old hippie woman approached me with a lovely “Cookies, lady ?” Hmm, I thought that was rude to refuse to test local specialities, and what the hell cookies for breakfast, it’s perfect. On the other hand, magic cookies wasn’t such a good idea. Anyways, getting over my emotions, the trip is on.
Here we go ! Nimbin it’s a town cultivating a cool attitude populated by people with long hair smoking joints. Immersing myself in this world, I was thinking that the only thing that could come to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere is the explosion of a nuclear bomb. Or Heavy metal on the radio. But well, letting go of the clichés, the life goals of a hippie is not (only) to save the Earth, talking ‘bout ecology and making love on Janis Joplin’s melodies. If we take the time to look at it differently, Nimblin is also organic farming, alternative medicine and green industries (with coloful names like “The Rainbow Power Company”). Between art, poetry and philosophy, the village is for sure the HQ of writers, painters of every style.
In the main street (Cullen Street) one delirious Shop follows after another. Psychedelic shops where you buy your joint as bread, to grocer’s shops turned into the natural food, no time to be bored. Then, there is a special a museum. Nimbin’s Museum. At the front “Donate if you can, but go in anyway”. It’s a fact, I’m swimming in a full hippie ideology of sharing. I make my donation and penetrate into the cave. I’m wondering where I am, out of any reality probably. Paying a real tribute to the hippie philosophy, the 70s combi and of course to the local plant, this museum is fascinating.
When exiting, as intriguing as the museum, I met Shaun. It’s been a few years since this retired musician has found refuge in Nimbin, because of his desire to live differently. And by “diferently” Shaun means without...smoking weed. Well, we might think that giving up on weed in Nimbin it is as logical as going into a whorehouse to take vows of chastity ; but this dude is serious.
“ I’ve been waiting for a peaceful place like this for a long time.. and now I’ve finally got it! I feel so good, nobody to influence me. I knew it was the good place to give up on my addiction. I love the ambiance, I love the people, there are such good vibes here.” Sounds pretty tempting uh ? I believed him without too much trouble, however I had trouble leaving the place and its « good vibes »...
For cannabis’s lovers, party animals and just the curious, you must know that over here we do more than just tolerate cannabis, it is actually celebrated during the Mardi Grass. Thus, every first weekend of May this little town sees thousands of people fighting for legalisation. ‘Cause if you can buy weed as easily as in Amsterdam, it’s as everywhere in Australia illegal. In the program, music, the parades anti-prohibitions with the fairies Ganja and a whole lot of atypical activity. (It’s not like our French villages’ feasts, where the popular dance singer is a king, that we would go to make competitions of « rolling joint blind », that’s for sure.)
Anyway, I will let you enjoy the last photos that I have collected for your appreciation. PEACE