Amazing Places

This Tiny Village Is Known as the Cannabis Capital of Australia

Nestled remotely in the hills of Eastern Australia's Rainbow Region in a valley of volcanic rock and other natural wonders sits a tiny village with a big reputation. Meet Nimbin, the self-proclaimed cannabis capital of Australia.

Hippie Haven

With a street named Alternative Way and an information center called Hemp Embassy, there's no wonder that this quaint town of roughly 1,500 people has for decades been considered a hub for Australian counterculture. It's obvious even at first glance. The moment you enter Nimbin, it's like a trip back in time to the tie-dye-clad days of peace, love and ... lots and lots of weed. With a hemp bar, endless head shops, and busloads of tourists looking to buy "special" cookies, Nimbin feels particularly relevant to this moment in history when countries around the globe are taking steps to legalize marijuana. Nimbin, however, was ahead of its time.

Once a struggling dairy farming village with a bleak future, Nimbin was given a second chance when it was chosen as the location for the 1973 Aquarius Festival, a weeks-long gathering of students, hippies, and artists to celebrate sustainability and creativity. After the festival ended, however, many of these people decided to stay and live in Nimbin, building communes and laying the framework for an alternative lifestyle community. And naturally, along with this new identity came a drug culture responsible for Nimbin's fame today.

But Is It Legal?

You might be wondering how Nimbin remains above the law in a country that has not yet legalized recreational marijuana. The answer is simple: it doesn't. Public consensus is that Australian authorities have for the most part turned a blind eye to the illegal drug dealings within this small town, allowing it to maintain its reputation and sell cannabis products under the table. In recent years, however, Australian police have begun to crack down on Nimbin's drug sales, with a number of raids and what many residents feel are unfair arrests.

Nimbin may be a pioneer of counterculture destinations, but at the end of the day it's much more than a fun, weed-loving blast from the past. For such a small community, Nimbin is impressively at the forefront of cannabis education, environmental initiatives, and arts advocacy. The community works hard for these issues by hosting yearly events like the "MardiGrass" festival, which educates on the uses of cannabis, along with numerous farmer's markets and a variety of arts celebrations. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of town, the Rainbow Region known for its natural beauty is home to three World Heritage Listed rainforests, numerous national parks and the sacred Nimbin Rocks of the aboriginal Bundjalung nation.

Nimbin is truly a special place with a unique history, which after almost 50 years has managed to preserve its roots as a colorful little village built on community and the pursuit of a better future. Hats off to Nimbin.

With all this, it's no wonder that the hard-brawling Australian character Les Norton travels to Nimbin for a few misadventures in Robert G. Barrett's novel "High Noon in Nimbin." The audiobook is free with a trial of Audible! We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Marijuana Mardi Gras in Nimbin, Australia

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Written by Ashley Gabriel March 19, 2018

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