A place you really have to go to when you are in Byron Bay is Nimbin. A small hippie village nestled within the Nimbin Mardigrass that was made famous for its alternative lifestyle.
The community was established in the 60's following a festival that brought people from all walks of life to celebrate freedom, counter culture and sustainability. When the festival drew to an end, many of the festival goers decided to stay and develop their own commune and self sustainable community. Today Nimbin's colourful shops, eccentric locals and a special brand of cookie continues to draw backpackers to this crazy little town along with the annual Nimbin Mardigrass - a yearly festival dedicated to the celebration of Grass of course!
My day out to Nimbin was – like wow! The Grasshoppers Nimbin Tour quite considerately late in the day at 10am, giving you enough time to grab a coffee and wake up before jumping on the old, rainbow coloured school bus. The drive out of Byron Bay was bumpy and with the reggae music onboard it really felt like we were going back in time. I was surprised at the scenery which on occasion resembles that of Australia's famous friend New Zealand, green, fresh and not a beach in sight.
TIP: It's well worth attempting to cure your hangover before jumping on the bus as the makers of this fine piece of machinery did not build a suspension with hung over backpackers in mind.
The driver was a real dude and welcomed us to the tour with stories about Nimbin, the Aquarius Festival that kick started the little town and the protestors that fought to save the local rainforest. He was a really nice guy, and it made the day much more enjoyable to get some local history and gossip.
First we stopped in Nimbin. When we drove into the small village, a lot of hippy people were hanging out on the streets. A lot of buildings were painted very colourfully, and the art work was really cool. The people who paint them are very talented, and it gives you a real feel for the creativity in this small community. In Nimbin we stopped for about an hour to explore the little shops and cafes. There was a lot of funky jewellery, headbands and of course, baked goods. We also stopped by Rainbow Cafe which reportedly offers the best coffee in Nimbin. This was enough time to explore and chat to the locals.
The Hemp Museum is crammed full of memorabilia for the freedom of choice movement that originally placed Nimbin on the map. The Nimbin Arts Gallery is also surprisingly good and the funky postcards are pretty cheap also.
After that it was back on our great old bus, listening to more fabulous tunes from the 60s while we drove for about an hour further into the hinterland. The scenery was beautiful as we drove through rainforest and when we arrived, our cool and groovy bus driver cooked us a real Aussie barbie, with sausages, hamburgers and salad! So yummy, plus we were hanging out with a crew of great people. The resident lizard will make you giggle also, if you aren't already.
After that we went to Minyon Falls. The drive there was so beautiful, and was the rainforest that the protesters saved in the seventies – we can thank the hippies for that! There was a really nice unobstructed view and it was a great place to take a lot of photos. We also went for a refreshing swim. By swim, I mean, jump off a waterfall into a freezing cold pool of water, over and over again. It's quite amazing just how much fun this is.
The drive back “home” to Byron Bay did not to disappoint. The landscape was beautiful, the tunes were mellow, and we were all feeling quite laid back. Nimbin has worked her magic once again and proven true to the myth that a trip to Nimbin is one of the most laid back and cruisey experiences you will get on a day out while travelling Australia. With a new group of friends we were all eager to have a nap and meet up a little later to make the most of Byron Bay's Pubs and Clubs.
Main reasons I LOVED the experience with Grasshoppers:
- Great entertainment on the way to Nimbin and back (great driver/guide)
- Beautiful souvenir shops in Nimbin
- Nimbin is a town with a distinctive character
- Really good food at the barbie
- Fantastic scenery, you will get loads of good photo’s
- Grasshoppers is a great day trip to Nimbin
*entry into the Nightcap National Forest is weather permitting