One thing you simply must do if you’re in Byron Bay is to visit Nimbin. Nimbin is well known for its cannabis counterculture and has been donned “the drug capital of Australia” and “a social experiment” by media. Or, as writer Austin Pick describes it “it is as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades. Nimbin is a strange place indeed.” Essentially, Nimbin has a prevalent drug culture and is known for its “spirituality”.
We were advised by a travel representative to take the “Grasshoppers Nimbin Tour” as this tour supposedly shows you the culture and history of the place “with a difference.” So, on a rainy day, we were picked up at 9am by a rickety old bus with a door that didn’t seem to quite shut properly, driven by a middle aged Aussie bloke called Jimmy. For an old bus, the sound system was seriously impressive, and we began heading towards Nimbin with the likes of Bob Marley blaring. Our first stop was at a local Aussie pub where Jimmy advised us to buy a cider or a beer to “start the day off”. Given that it was probably only about 10am at this point, I opted to have a coffee instead but many people on the tour got their beer on and we continued our way towards Nimbin through beautiful countryside and lush forest.
When we arrived in Nimbin, we were given a couple of hours to explore. This was definitely ample time. While Nimbin is colourful and eccentric, it is very small and there isn’t a whole ton to do except shop the psychedelic clothing and jewellery and get high in a hemp cafe. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed wandering the village and found Nimbin to have a real charm to it. Nimbin’s culture arose from when it hosted the Aquarius festival back in 1973. Once the festival was over, a few individuals stayed in Nimbin and adopted the alternative lifestyle we see in Nimbin today. This ideology spread all over the village, and it is now seen as the alternative lifestyle capital in Australia.
We all piled back onto the bus and headed off towards our lunch spot for a BBQ. We pulled up in a scenic location and sat while Jimmy cooked up a great feast; unfortunately it was raining like hell at this point but I think most people were too high to care about the rain. After lunch, we headed off towards Nightcap National Park, where Jimmy weaved us slowly in and out of the trees with Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” playing. Perhaps it was the cookie I ate on the bus, but the park was seriously beautiful. We pulled up by a waterfall called Minyon Falls, where everyone stopped to take photos and admire the scenery, before we set off back to reality in Byron Bay.
The highlight of the trip was probably Jimmy, who was one of the most hilarious guides I’ve ever had. He entertained us by pulling up at the side of the road every now and then to tell us a story about someone that got too high on a previous trip, or about that time Travis Barker from blink 182 took so much LSD he ran up and down this very bus completely naked. It was his humour, enthusiasm and genuine love for his job that really made this trip fantastic. I couldn’t recommend Grasshoppers Nimbin Tour enough.