Nimbin is not your typical Aussie town. It is (if you can fathom it) even stranger than that. And, despite being hidden deep in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, it is regarded very highly by travellers.

This may have something to do with what they put in the water (or should I say pull through the water) in these parts… weed, and piles of it.

Despite having a bad experience, smoking weed back in the Stone-r Age, I wasn’t about to miss out on a trip to Byron’s eccentric little sister.

As tour guide Jim greeted us with a cheery hello, my boyfriend Cameron
and I settled into the cosy, carpeted bus. A few minutes into the drive Jim stopped the bus to tell us about travellers who had experienced their own kind of road trip.

There was the Japanese guy he’d found talking to a tree, the police men who weren’t so law abiding, not forgetting the girl who threatened to drive the bus over a cliff. Jim had seen it all.

And whilst his guests seemed reluctant to listen to his rules on drug taking, they were probably more inclined to listen to his music… because it was glorious. Jim wasn’t just a tour guide but a DJ. His music was a delightful collection of old country and blues classics and every song had an introduction to go with it.

A few tunes on and we had arrived at our first stop: the pub. Supping beer in the sunshine we were given nut crackers to sample the macadamias that grew abundantly in the area. It was one hell of a way to start a trip.

So… how did Nimbin become so dope? It all started back in 1973 when the Aquarius Festival was held in the sleepy, dairy town. A large group of university students, hippies and “party people” descended on Nimbin and many of them never left.

“Be off with you!” the local farmers would shout. But it was too late. The intruders had already formed communes and the area was never the same again.

Nimbin’s Dope

Arriving in Nimbin, we took the opportunity to sniff out some of the hippy shops.

Walking by a children’s playground we spotted some people huddled underneath an Aboriginal flag. In the shade of the trees, travellers were exchanging pocket money for culinary treats whisked up by the locals. Wrapped in glistening, silver-foil packages were delicacies containing a not-so-well-kept secret ingredient.

Eager to avoid any drug dealing activity we went to have a look at the museum. Following the rainbow serpent path we walked through a cloud of incense and re-emerged the other side, looking at a colourful room of artwork.

After half-an-hour exploring the museum, it became evident there was certainly more to Nimbin than shady goings on behind trees.

Next we were off into the bush to visit Jim’s crazy stoner friend Pauly.

With his long, grey hair and circular glasses he reminded us of Tommy Chong (aka Leo in That 70s Show).

Whilst taking us around his forest, Pauly excitedly told us how lucky we were to be on earth (planet earth, not soily earth). He expanded by explaining how our existence relied purely on random hook-ups between ancestors, and therefore, we had all won “the lottery of life”.

With Pauly’s ramblings making more and more sense, I feared Cameron had slipped something into my ham and cheese sandwich.

Pauly then led us to an idyllic pond hidden in the thick of the forest. Taking a seat by the water we munched on more macadamias and had a look inside Pauly’s conservatory.

During our little snoop Cameron and I found an array of dolls Pauly had arranged in a somewhat unusual fashion.

(Unless seeing Sylvester from the Loony Tunes give Barbie oral sex whilst being humped from behind by a nun is normal…)

Our alternative tour was coming to an end but thankfully there were more highs to come.

The next day we made our way to the circus. In my imagination I saw Cameron and I trapezing through the air like Cirque De Soleil superstars, in reality… never going to happen.

After being shown how to hang upside down on the bar at a safety of one metre off the ground it was time to climb the long, long ladder to our doom. Surprisingly the exploits of Nimbin the previous day had done little to ease my vertigo.

Tentatively grabbing the bar before me it was time to swing. Three, two, one… one!, one!, one!… and I was still there. Apparently the woman holding my harness behind me wouldn’t let me go until I had myself in the correct position (either that or she really liked me).

Despite being scared out of my mind I kept on jumping only to land on the spot I’d just left. Grrrr… After she finally wrestled me into the right position off I flew… face first into the nets below. (A little embarrassing? Yes, it was rather).

Fortunately for my pride I managed to hold on the next time round and remembered to use my opposable thumbs to get myself into the coveted dangling position.

It was a scary yet thrilling experience. Our next challenge was to perform “the catch”. The instructor was to swing and grab our arms and pull us off the bar. That was the plan anyway.

Although neither of us made ”the catch”, we were delighted to have discovered a passion for swinging upside down.

In your facial

After a heavy two days at Splendour in the Grass festival it was time to chill the heck out. And in Byron the best way to do that is with a little bit of pampering.

To the sound of soothing melodies I surrendered to the hands of Fay who gently massaged my face and neck.

Fay used an assortment of organic products to cleanse every poor pore. After she’d applied a rather attractive facial mask, she scrubbed me down and wrapped a warm towel around my face.

I looked silly but I had entered a blissful paradise. Not even Cameron, who had entered to take a few rather unflattering photos, could pull me out of my Byron-esqe trance.

Sadly 30 minutes later it was time to leave the luscious, lingering fingers of Fay and re-enter the world of the standing. Walking down Lawson Street I said to Cameron, “You’re still thinking about that girl-on-girl massage action, aren’t you?

As quick as a flash he replied, “No.” Hmmm… “What a liar,” I thought.

And waiting to catch our flight back to Sydney I was proved right when Cameron came clean about his real massage room fantasies.

But I couldn’t really blame him. From “cookies” to humping plastic dolls, swinging sessions to massages, it was obvious Byron and Nimbin weren’t meant for the good boys and girls…

While trying to drive across the Simpson Desert, LIZZIE JOYCE and her partner were forced to hitch a ride with some dodgy truckers.

Early one January morning my boyfriend Dan and I set off on our trip across three states, covering 3,000 miles on what would turn out to be the best trip I have ever done, not to mention the most dangerous. We were attempting to cross the Simpson Desert on our way to Alice Springs from Sydney. We were fully prepared and set off in our 4WD loaded with equipment, including 60 litres of water, a double swag, a laser beam,
and an Epirb signal.

After 10 hours of driving, watching the landscape turn from highways and tall buildings to red earth and eternal horizons we glided past an old mining town called Cobar, stopped for a wee and drove on through, thankful that this ‘Hicksville’ town was not our destination. But while driving at an average speed of 120km per hour, the trusty car (which I was assured had “just had a full service and was made for driving across such terrain”) was disintegrating and the entire wheel was about to fall off.

Ugly mothertruckers

Suddenly, the brakes started to fail and smoke started pouring out the front passenger tyre. We were 120km from the last town and with at least 100km to the next, Dan decided we should drive on (without brakes) and see if we could make it to our destination. Luckily it didn’t last long anyway as the car stopped in defiance and we were forced to pull off the road in the middle of nowhere. Within minutes two semi-trailers driving in convoy by brothers, pulled up to offer us help and I’ve never been so glad to see two spectacularly ugly truckers before in my life. Freaky Brother One then began to undress me, with his eyes, almost frothing at the mouth at coming in such close proximity to someone of the opposite sex, while Freaky Brother Two was pretending to be a mechanic and baffling Dan with his bullshit. It was turning into Wolf Creek.

Nothing could be done with the car, and we had no choice but to accept a lift from Freaky Brother One to the nearest roadhouse 13km up the road. But then he said there wouldn’t be enough room in the cab so Dan should travel with his brother and I should hop into his cab by myself. By this point I was close to hysteria and there was no way I would be getting in that lorry by myself.

So we both hopped in with Brother Number Two. Dan settled in the middle of the very spacious cab which had enough room to house a small Albanian family! Relieved to be on our way to a phone box and in relative safety, (even if we were in being driven by an axe wielding maniac I had enough faith that Dan could knock him out if it came to it) I thought it would be plain sailing from here. After a couple of minutes on the road Brother Number One starts becoming agitated – he thinks he has lost his keys as he can’t use the radio to contact his brother. He pulls into the side of the road and asks me to hop out to see if he had left them in the door lock. This forced me into ungraceful acrobatic maneuvers in order to hang myself out the door and reach round to grab the keys, with freaky brother one more than enjoying the view of my ass in the air. The keys were there, so off we set again in stilted silence.

Roadhouse blues

Finally we caught sight of the roadhouse and saw our escape was only minutes away and we made a sharp exit from the freaky brothers. Good riddance!

The roadhouse turned out to be a petrol pump and a shop that was about to close. They had a phone though and we arranged for a tow truck to pick us up and take us back to the nearest town… Cobar (the Hicksville town we drove through scorning) where we would have to wait for the next three days for the car to be repaired. How ironic that the town we were laughing at turned out to be our refuge.

So we skipped the Simpson Desert and took another route to Alice Springs where we arrived two weeks later with the biggest smiles and the best memories!

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