Aquarius Festival, Art, Australia, Bundjalung people, Cookies, Dreamtime, Earth, Eco, Environment, Eric Walker, Herbs, Hippies, Holiday, Inner Child, Journey, Kitchen Fairy, Magic, Myth, Native Australia, Nimbin, Nimbinjee Spirit, NSW, Rainbow, Rainbow Serpent, Sustainability, Traditional Owners, Warrajum
Want to go somewhere different? Perhaps to a colourful, country based, peace lovin’ and Earth friendly place in the world? Go to Nimbin, Australia.
Nimbin and the surrounding region tells a unique and hopeful story. Needless to say it leaves an impression as soon as you step into the village. My first impression?? It’s like a jar of mixed lollies. Dip your hand in and you might pick up a red raspberry, a black jellybean or maybe a cookie? In short it’s a world of all-sorts. Naturally, a place like this attracts people from all walks of life and from all colours of the rainbow.
Nimbin has been noted as the ‘drug capital of Australia’ but don’t be fooled by this description. Like I said you get all-sorts. What Nimbin really stands for is environmentalism. Other eco-friendly initiatives within Nimbin are permaculture projects, an interest in deep ecology, sustainability, renewable energy and of course the cannabis counterculture.
The region was filled with red cedar forests but by the 1900’s most of that was cleared and it was replaced with banana plantations and dairy farming industry, which collapsed due to the recession.
It was in 1973 when the village of Nimbin was put on the map by a group of university students and ‘hippies’ who held the Aquarius Festival, which is a counter-cultural arts and music festival celebrating alternative thinking and sustainable lifestyle.
It was also the first event in Australia that sought permission for the use of land from its Traditional Owners, the Indigenous Bundjalung people. After the festival hundreds of people settled in Nimbin, many of which formed alternative lifestyle communities. Since the festival and new wave of community the region has attracted backpackers, writers, artists, dreamer, musicians, environmentalists and people interested in permaculture and living the ‘off-the-grid’ lifestyle.
“It is for these reasons that the May 1973 Aquarius Festival is important to me and to many others. Our lives are largely determined by the mythology we create…There is something wrong with the mythology of the dollar. We badly need a new mythology.
What is this mythology? It is a simple one: 5,000 people can meet together without violence, without destruction, in peace and in love. If 5,000 people come as tribes, prepared to combine to build their own structures to live in, to feed themselves, to explore their creativity in theatre and music, we will have a festival the way they should have been from the beginning. If we all create this mythology, if you believe it and tell your brother and spread the word, it will happen. “Mankind’s future”, says Bucky Fuller, “is whatever man chooses to make it”. The energy of 5,000 people is almost unlimited. Between us, really working together, we can achieve anything.
The only limitation on reality is our imagination. It is up to us to choose whether the dream is to be lost until a more courageous generation is ready for it, or whether we ourselves can participate in the dream.
Festivals are about dreaming…”
Johnny Allen, Director, Aquarius Foundation,
Australian Union of Students, 1973
The Rainbow Region
The name Nimbin comes from the local native Whiyabul (Widgibal) clan whose Dreamtime tradition speaks of the Nimbinjee Spirit people protecting the area. The region is known as the Rainbow Region. It is known to be a place of healing and is said to be the resting place of Warrajum, the Rainbow Serpent.
Which is why you will see many rainbows here. It really speaks to your inner child.
Naturally, I picked up a rainbow inspired keep-sake to bring home…
Creation Myth of the Rainbow Serpent
Storytelling of the Rainbow Serpent.
Along the main street is the Nimbin Museum. It looks like, well, something else…
“Don’t be put off by the feral rabble often outside, this is the end of the road, the last bus stop – the plug hole. And they are the search party that we send in after you if you haven’t reappeared in a couple of hours!
You may find the oldest thing you ever threw away, there to haunt you….”
It is a bit spooky and full of old artefacts, boots, ties, tins, wires, sticks, STUFF, paintings, drawings, stories, bits n bobs and everything which seems a little dusty but it is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
The Nimbin Museum was created by local artists who each decorated one of the 8 rooms of Magic in an effort to show what the village of Nimbin is all about. It’s a kaleidoscope of art, words and images stuck to every surface available all led by the Rainbow Serpent. The Nimbin Museum is a journey through eight rooms in detailing the local Aboriginal, pioneer and hippy eras as you follow the rainbow serpent path.
The River Story Bundjalung Lore
This is what happened.
One time an old Weeyan man (seer) was walking through the bush with two young men when he fell down as if dead. The young men became frightened and ran back to tell the camp.
Two older men were sent out to perform the burial ritual, but, as they approached, the old man sat up. He told them that he had been asleep and had gone up into the sky but wasn’t to tell them what he saw until the whole camp was present.
Back at the camp this is the story he told: The sky opened up. I went into it and came upon a river, a huge wide river, the biggest I’ve ever seen, that never runs dry.
There were people on the banks of the river, doing things that people do, playing, talking and so on. There was a white man with long hair walking by the river. I approached him and he told me his name was Birrigan (the Southern Cross) and that he had three laws for me to take back to my people for the hard times that were to come.
The three laws are:
Wana bomalay (Don’t kill)
Wana wergahly (Don’t steal)
Wana gubanunu (Don’t be greedy)
Eric Walker, Bundjalung elder, Tabulam, New South Wales
Excerpt above taken from www.rainbowdreaming.org
My experience of the museum was intense. First, my eyes hungrily took it all in as my ego mind tried to make sense of the visual information. The story sank directly into my psyche bypassing the conscious mind and I left the place, changed and it’s not from the smoke that dutched the cafe. Rather from the conscious shift/ scramble/ download/ sync that good art is meant to bring. In essence I have just experienced the dream from the point of Creation and then the Original People, to pioneer days and Christianity, the hippies and back to the Beginning again. Similar to rebirthing and that’s powerful stuff!
The Nimbin Native dream is the Energy and Heart-beat of the region. However, it is written “unusual tolerance and compassionate acceptance means we have become the last bus stop for many!” The randoms, lost souls and dealers might distract you initially. Everyone is attracted to the light after all and especially the shady characters. To get the most out of this place look deeper and allow curiosity to lead rather than the judgemental mind. The idea is to let that all go and just ride the rainbow.
If you ever make it down to the Nimbin Museum please leave a donation to help out the locals who keep it going as it’s quite remarkable and it’d be a shame for it to ever close down.
What a place!