Coming from a state that has legalized marijuana and is home to more than one funky mountain town, it takes quite a bit to register on my hippy radar. While I’m not saying that there haven’t been aspects of certain countries that level the scale, I’ve felt a lot of places labeled “hippy,” are quite dull. I had heard rumors of a town called Nimbin in Australia, hoping I would have my mind blown. While it wasn’t exactly the hippy haven I had expected, the town did register with me as a place to definitely visit while traveling through Australia.
Located in the Northern Rivers Area of the New South Wales, Nimbin is a typical small town, except for the fact it is completely devoted to cannabis culture. Known mostly as a day trip destination for those in Byron Bay, Nimbin is known for the place to score some quality ganja at a cheap price. While marijuana is actually illegal, local residents have no problem approaching you on the street to offer weed in plant and edible form. The dealers themselves look like normal residents, and can tell you the exact spot along the main street where cameras from shops won’t catch them giving you a sack.
While weed is a mainstay in the town, what makes Nimbin so cool are the locally owned dining and shopping establishments, as well as the history museum. Nimbin was home to the Bundjalung aboriginal people, and the name of the town itself actually comes from the local dialect speaking of their specific dream time spirit.
The local culture completely supports aboriginal ways of life, and the free museum in the main street of town gives a good history on the enigmatic culture of the Bundjalung people. The museum also gives an unbiased portrayal of how settlers came to the town, stealing it away from the indigenous people. Though the history is tough, the museum is a great way to learn about some of the lesser know aspects of the Australian continent.
For those making more than a day trip, stopping in the town of Lismore, on the way up to Nimbin, is a great option. Lismore is located on a river, and has a strong small town feel. The two-block long main square offers some great shops to browse during the day, and on weekend nights, an open-air farmers' market is the place to get cheap eats. The river itself is quite calming, with a walk along the pedestrian bridge offering great vantage points. There are even some rowdy bars depending on the day of the week.
If you find yourself needing a break from Byron Bay, a trip to Nimbin is definitely worth the drive. While most stay only for a day, spending the night and exploring the town and the surroundings won’t disappoint. Remember though, if you do decide to indulge in the local culture, it is still illegal. Though readily available, marijuana possession can be prosecuted all over Australia.