From Letterboxes To Shelterboxes

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Hippies and Hat Tricks


If I thought Byron Bay was relaxed, then I was in for a treat at Nimbin! The main street is plastered in rainbow shops and houses, locals in waist length dreadlocks and every second store promoting eco-friendly solutions or hemp-based products.

Nimbin Community Centre

One of the walls inside the Rainbow Cafe

A local delicacy

Nimbin is known as ‘hippie central’ and is infamous for being an advocate in legalising hemp in Australia. This movement is not just about making cannabis (the part of the plant that can be taken to produce a euphoric state) available to those who take it for medicinal purposes or personal use. It is to enable the growth of the hemp industry – a sustainable, renewable resource. Hemp can be used to make textiles, clothing, rope, body care products, even bricks for houses!

The Nimbin Good Times‘, a local community newspaper, is now my favourite newspaper for the positive, can-do-attitude articles. They had lots of updates on the Coal Seam Gas movement. The CSG-free Northern Rivers campaign is impressive – working from a grass-roots level they approach every member of the community to support the campaign and they have a 99.31% support rate! The campaign is not aligned to any political group and they have already created a film to promote their cause. With such overwhelming opposition to the Coal Seam Gas movement, the local government will be forced to listen. Another group I enjoyed reading about was the ‘Youth Connections North Coast Inc’. They are running a project called “Our Village Rocks” which aims to promote a positive sense of identity and pride in young people aged 10-18 in the Nimbin area; through development of leadership skills, positive relationships and a sense of belonging in the community. They run BBQs at the local skate park on some Saturdays; offer a range of free after-school activities including hip-hop workshops, music recording, mural painting and gardening; as well as skate comps and workshops geared towards performance nights showcasing local youth talent. They were calling for volunteers to assist in running these activities and I would have been there in a shot had I been able to stick around! I think all these activites are a brilliant and pro-active way to engage and support young people.
[Information paraphrased from ‘The Nimbin Good Times: Blue Quandong Edition, April 2012’]

To read the latest edition of the ‘The Nimbin Good Times’, you can view it online here.

I got a chance to be interviewed on the local community radio station NIM-FM (102.3). All I did was walk into their office and ask the first person I saw, who offered me a spot on his morning show the next day. Wow! It was a really fun interview with Bob & Jack, who breezily yacked with me about the project and Shelterbox for about 10 minutes. They both agreed that perhaps everybody should get a Shelterbox, ready for the supposed impending Apocalypse this year. If you’d like to listen to NIM-FM’s programs they have a live online stream you can listen to here:

Useful Signage

We stayed at the Nimbin Rox YHA which is a purple building up on a hill nestled in the Nimbin Valley. They have hammocks hanging from a old fig tree, a fire pit and even a huge Tee Pee you can stay in!

After one night in a dorm we braved the cold out in our tent – it was like being back in Canberra, I couldn’t feel my face?! We learnt the hard way that if I choose to sleep on a camp stretcher with no mattress, and Joe sleeps on a blow-up pool Lilo with no pillow, that we both FREEZE at 3am. Then spent the next 4 hours huddling in our sleeping bags with no hope of warmth. We hauled our stiff sleep-deprived caffeine-craving bodies to Lismore the next and each upgraded to an ‘Exped’ mat; a Swiss-made self-inflating down insulated sleeping mat. Now we are camping experts!

I befriended a Canadian lass, Heather, during our time at Nimbin Rox YHA and she was so stoked about the project that she not only shared it on her Facebook but got it up on Nimbin Rox YHA facebook page too. Then I was stoked.


This was our last stop before crossing the Queensland border. According to local information, the town is situated in the largest volcanic crater on the east coast of Australia. We stayed at the Murwillumbah YHA, which is situated by the River Tweed, looking out to Mt. Warning. This was the view from our room!

It’s a great little homey hostel where you are even greeted by a soft toy on your pillow, ready to be cuddled if you’re feeling at all homesick.

The owner, Tassie, serves free ice-cream everynight to bring all the guests together so they can get to know each other. He does this dressed in a Jester hat and with a laughing, vibrating worm around his neck. Definitely a good way to break the ice!

He was super keen to show us his ’30 second rock and roll lesson’. So we all stepped outside and learnt how to do a few simple (if not co-ordinated or well timed) swing/jive steps. It must have been something to see three couples of completely different ages dancing under a tin roof on a Saturday night to tinny rock’n’roll music. The next day Tassie also taught me how to darn my purple Nepalese booties! A multi-talented man.


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This entry was posted on August 14, 2012 by in Past Locations and tagged , , , , , .

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