Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Our van parked in John's grounds

Nimbin Rocks

Nimbin main street

Main street shops

Another view of the shops

One of the shops

A row of shops

A view over Nimbin with the Nimbin Rocks on the hill

One of the rooms in the museum

The book shaped dolls house

Mt Warning from a lookout

John and I feeding the parrots

Ensuring the plate is clean

The view from John's new house


Despite only having had a previous brief acquaintance with John, it was good to see him, and as night had fallen, and we would never have found his home, it was good that he came to meet us. There had been enough light when we passed through Nimbin for us to realise the town was different to any we had travelled through before. We would explore the town tomorrow; John was unavailable as he had to business at Lismore which he could not avoid.

After parking the van on a 30 degree slope at the best angle we could achieve in the dark, John invited us into his home which was the most unusual one we have yet visited. One of his next door neighbours had kindly set fire to John's curtains over two years ago, burning down his home which was uninsured; the matter is still unresolved. John has converted his big shed, which previously his car was kept in, into a home. Everything was basic, functional and comfortable. Apparently a couple of python snakes visit his home on a three monthly basis and keep the mice and other crawlies under control. It is his belief they always leave a breading mum mouse to ensure there will be food available next time.

We asked John about Nimbin. In the 1960's Nimbin was a hippy town. Now there are over 30 communities spread over many acres around the town, some of which will have more than 600 people living on them. I asked if they work well and was told most do not. When communal work is needed only a few turn up, and violence including stabbings have occurred. It seems the communities can be quite lawless. John described the area as the 'commune capital of Australia'. There is also an aborigine community at Nimbin and even some people who seem quite normal.

On our first morning John was away early, and we slept in, or out as it transpired as due to the slope of our bed the mattress had moved quite a few inches. The property, which had been a former banana plantation, looked good in the daylight and there was a lot of bird life, including parrots. After trying out various other parking options, we set off for our Nimbin experience. Busses bring day trippers from Lismore and from the coast. Some of the passengers take further trips around the area; some stay within the town; some stay for several days, usually in one of the two backpacker hotels.

Buildings in Nimbin are usually colourful with a lot of them promoting the various uses of hemp and extolling its virtues. Parades demanding the legalisation of hemp, (cannabis), are not uncommon. Apparently parades for anything are not uncommon. At the tourist office I was told I might be approached by a dealer selling cannabis, and advised not to give them a hard time. This did not happen and I had not expected it would, I seem to be immune to clandestine approaches. The plain clothes police did not approach us either.

The main dealer in Nimbin is said to be in the museum, which also houses a café in the back. For a gold coin donation, (1 or 2 dollars), or come in anyway, you can enter the museum which houses a few rooms crowded with all sorts of crap. You need to be on something to appreciate it. Whilst looking in one room, I noticed a woman about 28 years of age had entered the museum and been approached by an older lady. "Do you want some cake or do you want cookies?" "I'll have some chocolate today". No one approached us which is a shame as I like chocolate. We took a look in the café and decided to get our drinks and cookies elsewhere.

Armed with maps we had obtained from the tourist office we drove into the hills following the road signs in search of the Tuntable Falls. On arrival we found that the Co-Ordination Co-operative had put up a notice, 'private property, no public access to the falls'. It was the school holidays so we parked in the turn around area of the school bus and had lunch. During the hour we were parked a further 6 cars turned up to view the falls and had to turn around and drive away. After looking at the views on the way back, we went to Nimbin to see if it really was how we had perceived it to be, and it was.

Before we returned home, we had coffee at a safe shop, bought a local's poetry book and were invited to the poetry reading meeting which will be held tomorrow night. We also had the opportunity to photograph the owner and the very intricate book shaped dolls house she had made. Back home, John had brought back fresh scallops and prawns and he cooked us a very tasty meal.

The Nimbin area is part of the vast area dominated by Mt Warning, (named by Captain Cook - who else), which is known as the scenic rim'. There are loads of mountains all around and the volcanic soil is very fertile. John drove us in his car on a circular tour onto tracks in The Border Ranges National Park that we would have had no chance of going to in our van. Along the way we did some short rainforest walks. We had our morning break at a sell all sorts' type of shop, and café. There was also old memorabilia around the upper shelves and walls, including a set of bagpipes which her husband is learning to play - ouch. Our picnic lunch was eaten on a mountain top. At one viewing spot John pointed out the Lamington Park area in the far distance; the Green Mountains where we enjoyed, (or endured), many miles of walks.

This night I made the stir fry with steak I had marinated in the morning. It was very good even if I have to say so myself; and I do have to say so as Sylvia is unlikely to tell you.

Friday the thirteenth was our last morning. Sleeping the last two nights was better than our first night as we were not quite on such a bad slope, and we were lying with our feet downwards. Sylvia would wake up with her feet pressed firmly against the side of the sink unit. I did not have the same luxury, I would wake with my legs off the end of the bed; at least Sylvia found it amusing.

When we joined John there were parrots near by. He had run out of honey so he made a sugar solution on a plate and one of the parrots was soon feeding whilst Sylvia watched in rapture. We were then taken on a very interesting tour of the nearby plants before climbing the hill to be shown the platform and work to date on the new home. John works on building his new home when the whim takes him and the funds are available. The views were magnificent but the strong sunlight prevented good photographs, the only problem seems to be the summer mosquitoes but John thinks he will have no difficulties with that. It seems smoke keeps mosquitoes away and he is an avid cigarette smoker.

We were very impressed with this lovely area and the 25 acre hill property owned by our friend John. Despite our short acquaintance it was a sad parting and we hope John, who has already visited Scotland, gets another opportunity to visit his relatives and is able to spend some days at our home.

Before leaving the area we re-visited Nimbin to buy lottery tickets as there was a special deal because of the date, Friday 13th. Before driving off via Kyogle to Casino, we visited the pizza shop which John had recommended as extra good. On offer were slices of two types of pizza which we ordered with salad, and no extra toppings.

The pizza man told us that the local butcher sold very good organic meat. I told him that in Scotland we were used to eating very good meat, and our cows were fed on grass. The man said that Nimbin cows were fed on grass, and I said that was what I was afraid of. To his puzzled expression, I informed that it seemed the term grass might have a different connotation at Nimbin. I was assured the cows were fed on proper grass type grass.

Nimbin has been an experience neither of us expected and we would recommend this very scenic area as well worth a visit. We left for Casino without shopping at the butchers.

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