Tucked away in the hills west of Byron Bay, in the Northern Rivers area of the Australian state of New South Wales, Nimbin was once a sleepy little dairying village in a lush setting of farmland and forest. Today, Nimbin is known the world over as Australia’s most famous hippie destination and alternative lifestyle capital.
Nimbin shot to fame when it hosted the 1973 Aquarius Festival, attracting students, hippies and visionaries from all over Australia. Once the bands left and the dust settled, a few intrepid souls stayed on to live the dreams and ideology of Aquarius and sow the seeds for today’s vibrant, sustainable community.
Nimbin is notable for the prominence of its environmental initiatives such as permaculture, sustainability, and self-sufficiency, as well as the cannabis counterculture. Writer Austin Pick described his initial impressions of the village this way: "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."
Nimbin has been described in literature and mainstream media as 'the drug capital of Australia', 'a social experiment', and 'an escapist sub-culture'. Nimbin has become an icon in Australian cultural history, with many of the values first introduced there by the counterculture becoming part of modern Australian culture.
Nimbin and surrounding areas are part of what was known as the "Rainbow Region", which was of cultural importance to the Indigenous Bundjalung people. The name Nimbin comes from the local Whiyabul (Widgibal) clan whose Dreamtime speaks of the Nimbinjee spirit people protecting the area. Since 1973, the area has been a haven for Australia's counterculture.