Duration: 2-3 hours
Price Guide: $0-25
The majority of people wishing to visit Nimbin catch a bus from Byron Bay or hire a car. Bus tickets are $25 return and allow you a look at the scenic Mount Warning and then have around three hours to explore the village. Hire car costs vary.
Nimbin main street – Cullen Street (you’ll be dropped off here by any bus).
This small stretch of street can be walked end to end in five minutes, so don’t worry about getting lost!
Cullen St: The first to establish Nimbin were indigenous Australian people – the land here was considered highly sacred and was used for initiation ceremonies. During the 1800s European settlers came to grow bananas, harvest timber and raise dairy cattle. It wasn’t until the 1970s when another wave of settlers – mainly hippies and students – arrived with the idea that Nimbin would flourish as both a spiritual and tribal town and adhere to organic living, alternative home building and eco-friendly energy sources. For years there was rivalry between them and the previous locals – who fought strongly against the drug culture that the new settlers brought to village – eventually this subsided and they now live in harmony. To this day, it remains a highly spiritual, moderately populated and very non-commercial town. Interestingly, the majority of Nimbin’s inhabitants – over 5000 people – live in the surrounding hills, whilst in the main village the population is around 300.
Nimbin even has its own currency: Nimlets!
Walk south until you see the Nimbin Museum, it’s next door to the Rainbow Cafe (one of the side effects of Nimbin’s hippy culture is that they’re not really in to street numbers).
One of the main points of interest along here is the famous Nimbin Museum, which was built by a group of hippies over ten years ago. The idea is that you follow the ‘rainbow serpent path’ from room to room with the notion that you shall be enlightened by what you find – I couldn’t guarantee you that, but it is bizarrely interesting…
Head north along Cullen St, almost to the corner with Sibley St and you should see the Hemp Bar on your right (it’s number 51), opposite the supermarket.
Another hotspot in Nimbin is the Hemp Bar – there are many of this nature in the village, but this is the most popular.
Our tour guide, who had lived in Nimbin for over 40 years, insisted that there was more to the village than the drug culture here. It is undeniably the main reason travellers come here – judging by the number of dealers who approach you on the streets, you’d think it was legal, but it is in fact not and you WILL get arrested if you’re caught! If spliffs, bongs, acid and cookies really aren’t your thing, don’t worry, you are unlikely to be hassled and there’s plenty more to see and experience – but if you’re likely to be upset by being offered drugs to buy, this is probably not the place for you.
Head south along Cullen Street until you see the Bush Factory, once a butter factory it is now home to numerous enterprises including the Nimbin Candle Factory.
Other attractions include the Nimbin Candle Factory – located within walking distance of the town – it’s a small but adorable place with friendly staff who will often show you around and show you the process of making candles. There are some weird and wonderful ones you can buy which make for great souvenirs or gifts!
Just past the Candle Factory is the Djanbung Permaculture Gardens.
You can easily see the whole of Nimbin in a day, but there are a handful who end up staying a few nights (usually those who enjoy the Hemp Bar a bit too much). There are a couple of hostels you can stay at, including a YHA – there are very limited bus services leaving the village so make sure you don’t miss the last one!
Overall, Nimbin is a strange but charming village, and by far one of the most unique places I have visited in Australia … my verdict? Unmissable!