A Travellerspoint blog

Notes on Nimbin

Mardigrass and home of Aquarius

sunny 26 °C

Spiritual home of Aquarius
Marijuana growing Capital of Australia

Nimbin is a colourful, vibrant and to some it’s where they live - and a popular little town too just 19km from Lismore and perhaps 80km from Byron Bay.

In the shadow of Mt Warning, the peak that catches the first rays of the rising sun, it is a tourist destination as well as a destination for alternative life-stylers, farmers and dairyfolk.

Wikipedia tells us that “in New South Wales the cultivation, possession and sale of cannabis is punishable by law. In Nimbin, all three activities are part of every day hippie culture. The village has a high tolerance for cannabis (marijuana), with the open buying, selling and consumption of locally grown cannabis on the streets and laneways.

The prevalence of a drug culture in Nimbin since 1973 has been accompanied by a prevalence of collective and public creativity: colourful and spiritually-motivated art (including large paintings above the shop awnings), music, poetry, craft and fashion can all be seen on the main street. The town is also known as a hot-spot for alternative social activities, such as naturalists, mystical and radical social philosophies.”
It also holds an annual MardiGrass (don’t you love that bit!!) festival since 1993. On the first weekend in May, thousands descend on Nimbin for cannabis oriented fun and frivolity. At night, entertainment ranges from the Harvest Ball and Picker's Ball.

Today, Saturday of the October long weekend, we decided we’d take another look at Nimbin, as it’s been many years since we were last here. With Skippy-dog in tow and in the spring sunshine, we walked through the town and enjoyed the bright rainbow painted shops with comical signage, many selling hemp products – but didn’t see any marijuana for sale – just a garbage bin with a painted sign on it “No Dealing”!
Hemp clothing is both popular and attractive, and is a popular selling product in such shops as Hemp Emporium, BringyourBong, Hemping Around, Stoned Fish (with chips). We joined in the ‘spirit’ of it all and had a good laugh too. Then we enjoyed lunch in a café, with buskers and pavements artists nearby.

The Aquarius Festival in May each year, aims to celebrate alternative thinking and sustainable lifestyles. The ten day event was first held here from 12 to 23 May 1973. It is often described as Australia's equivalent to Woodstock and the birthplace for Australia’s hippie movement.
A few things took our interest as we strolled through the village:

Alternative Things ...
Nimbin is famous the world over as the spiritual home of Aquarius. It's a centre for sustainable living, alternative therapies and unconventional lifestyles. It’s the perfect place to rejuvenate mind, body and soul – so you’ll know just where to come if you need to de-stress!!

Living Things ...
It is on the doorstep of some of Australia’s most spectacular World Heritage Rainforests with its rugged mountains, ancient forests & hidden waterfalls which are the backdrop, inspiration & heartbeat for this special Nimbin lifestyle.

Groovy Things ...
I think there is more than you can imagine to Nimbin. With its magical mainstreet, of rainbow colours, it offers a fascinating collection of arts, crafts, merchandise & eateries. With everything from top-hats to tattoos, Nimbin has something to for everyone! I must add that some of the craft and clothing items are certainly not cheap!

… then there's lots of woodwork, ceramics, art and colourful fashion ..

The level of police intervention against drug trafficking has fluctuated over the years. However the State and Federal Police have never been able to stop or even significantly reduce the prevalence of cannabis use in the village.

On the road through Lismore to Nimbin is particularly beautiful, with winding roads past green pastures, dairy cattle, rainforest, escarpments and little places such as Jiggi, Georgica and Coffee Camp to intrigue – and so different to the scenery we have seen over the last few months.

We loved our day out ….. and managed quite well thank you, without any ‘dope’ or even booze …. so far!!

If you get the chance to visit, it’s worth it –

Posted by twodubfers 23:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

. . . so this is where the Gypsies live . . .

Coochiemudlo Island and skippy's first ferry ride

sunny 28 °C

And Skippy’s first ferry ride to Coochiemudlo Island . . . in Redland Bay

Caravan parks in the Brisbane area number just a handful and they are well away from the coast and main roads north and south.

Consequently the traveller is faced with traffic lights and traffic jams to reach any of these. This one is not listed in our Camps 7 book, nor is it listed on the internet, but we have struck lucky when we discovered this little gem .. well, very big gem really. Here at Thorneside Mobile Home Village it is about 3 minutes drive to the bays, near both Birkdale shops and Victoria Point ferry; and there are ocean walks, lovely homes, sea breezes (aaaahhhh!!), and immaculate gardens here in the park as well as some smart vans and reasonably new and tidy cabins – permanent ones! There are some very big and very new vans, amenity blocks we haven’t seen any this big since Dry and Dusty Longreach – here there are 12 showers, 12 toilets, a really great laundry, complete with ironing boards and huge dryers ~ what a surprise.

So if this really is where the gypsies live – then they can obviously afford to be here, but even then if they all (or mostly) go out to work, it’s cheap accommodation in a bayside suburb and in such a lovely spot. Even we could be gypsies here!

We are probably 20 minutes drive from the city of Brisbane from – and it’s worth mentioning that nowhere in Sydney is 20 minutes to anywhere else – even Central station to (the next) Town Hall station by train can take longer than that in peak hour! And much longer in traffic!! ..so we are pleasantly surprised.

We have even found a Jayco Caravan Dealer up the road, so Dubfer had to call in with his list. We did have to find the Service Department, not far away, and they had all the answers. It seems we don’t have leaking water tanks after all – in fact they are both still full – and all that is required is probably a new valve!! … after all that worry . .

Today we took the ferry from beautiful Victoria Point across to Coochiemudlo. Total cost $4.00 concession return – and Skippy came too on her lead – and we spent a bit of time there – a tiny island out in the Bay in a beautiful sea of blue, with little boats moored. For anyone interested, Coochiemudlo is Aboriginal for ‘redstone’ and that seems about right to me. Interestingly enough, there’s a golf course, many lovely homes in the bush and many streets, restaurants, marinas, both vehicular and passenger ferries, and superb views across safe beaches to the mainland. And of course in these school holidays, there's happy kids everywhere. Would love to take Gracie ..

Skippy loved her very first ferry ride and made a lot of friends along the way! And of course she had many ‘dips’ in the sea, her most favourite pastime, after eating!

We’re out socialising on Wednesday, and I’m having my haircut too before we go out. I last had it cut out at Longreach a very long time ago and they only shear sheep and brand cattle out there ~ it looks like I was one of them!

As many of you know, the ‘ablutions block’ across the road from us at Horseshoe Bend, was sold last year to a chap called Ray. He used to own the beautiful Big 4 Caravan Park down on the river at Maroochydore. And oddly enough, he had (and probably still has!!) a Great Deal of Money! So we are always suspicious of caravan park owners, however they may be dressed – which isn’t usually smartly!

Ray, bless him, has knocked down the ‘ablutions block’ and has built Horseshoe Bends answer to A Massive Colosseum across at No. 28, dedicated entirely, with lifts and columns, to him and his wife!!!!!!! Can’t show you a photography sadly as it can’t be done here .. it’s awful and massive and blocks out the view just the same. And it looks like his 3-storey mansion has cost him a lot of money.

The reason I mention it is that the caravan park owner right here at Thorneside is a friendly fellow called Nigel. He bought this place over 30 years ago when it was just cacti, creeks and a swamp. No one wanted to live ‘so far away from the city’ (!), nor near the beach, and the suburb was just a fraction of the size it is today. However, he has made this into one of the nicest parks we’ve stayed in so we’re going to become ‘gypsies’!! And so caravan park owners it seems to us, are definitely in the haves and not the have-nots" category!

Wow ~ ~ many years ago we had the opportunity to run a caravan park down on Phillip Island, just south of Melbourne, near the Bass Strait – and we turned it down – didn’t know enough about c/parks then .. nor about making a bit of dosh either it seems … !! Looking back, it seems we might just have missed a Big Opportunity.
. . .

Posted by twodubfers 21:48 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

And who's hiding in that Caravan Park?

sunny 25 °C

- I wonder?

A very big part of our own lives’ rich tapestry is the people we have met and befriended on our way. Over the last 48 years it’s wonderful to realise that many of our family and friends have been around us for that long.

We’ve met them in all sorts of places: planes, boats, buses, trains, work places and sometimes just hitch-hiking and that’s something that, sadly I think, we don’t do anymore .. anywhere!

On this trip it has been interesting, and often quite funny too, to come across both families and individuals, who are complete strangers to us but who we’ve chatted to quite openly, shared stories and often heard their troubles – had many a drink and a laugh under the shade of a tree, somewhere in the Great Outdoors!

Caravan Parks are a relatively new idea for holidays – for us. It’s something that for most of our married lives (and before that as well) we never considered doing, as we could never afford a caravan, nor a car to pull it. Actually, we often couldn’t afford our own car, but had David’s company car – which certainly wouldn’t be towing a caravan!

To date we have travelled, in total, about 22,000 km and this includes our first long trip when we sold our home in North Rocks in 2012. Then, we took off for East Hills, Hilary and Peter’s place near Scone in NSW, then headed south to Albury, up the Murray River into Renmark, down to Adelaide, then back north again to Broken Hill and Bourke. It was when we were in Adelaide that we decided to buy a house on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland (typical D & L) .. so we caravanned it across NSW and southern Qld and bought a house in Beautiful Buderim – a very long way from Adelaide!

Twenty months later, we sold that house as well as it was far too big for us. We decided to have another go at caravanning and to see how far we might get this time.

As I’ve said before, we’ve now travelled almost 11,000 km on this trip and there’ll probably be a bit more before it comes to it’s close. Caravanning for us has been a great way to see our country. It’s not for everyone we realise, but we’ve loved it …… and most especially for all the people we have met along our way.

But to get to the point of this little blog – it’s the caravan parks and freebies (roadside sites that mostly don’t charge for staying) that intrigue me.

Indeed, who is hiding in them … I wonder ..

For the most part, it seems that permanent sites are in one section of the park, and the tourists, families, campers in tents, and dog owners are sectioned off in separate areas as well as can be.

It’s all of the above that has me fascinated.

To start with, I thought before this trip, that everyone would be like me – travelling in a caravan to see Australia.

Wrong, wrong and wrong yet again.

There are many people who actually choose to live in a caravan park – and for reasons best known to themselves.

Along the coastal fringe of both NSW and Queensland, the c/parks are for the tourists, people with families, dogs and for meeting up with friends.

Inland and in the Outback, however, it’s a very different story.

Once the turn to the west is made, and the Outback presents itself, then so do working opportunities for men and women alike. There’s work on cattle stations, down the coalmines, the aluminium mines, the copper mines, and the towns and townships that provide the infrastructure. Living in a caravan park is both private, cheap and easily accessible to all these types of jobs and the characters you meet are very interesting.

There was the mining family in Mt Isa, with a tiny baby and a toddler. He’d leave before 6am and be home around 7pm. In a tiny caravan with two littlies is no mean feat, in those conditions and temperatures in the summer. Water is costly and at a premium, yet still they choose this life – or maybe they have no choice? This particular mum had the patience of Job – I took my (sun)hat off to her!

There are many older folk living in caravan parks too – it looks like they are pensioners, even disabled pensioners, and the community nurses and buses arrive to care for these folk. What a wonderful thing to see ..

… and as I’ve mentioned earlier, the number of people caravanning, sometimes using walking frames and/or two sticks, is amazing. We even saw one lady in a wheelchair!

I think we have met every nationality under the sun – especially in the mining towns and they would easily outnumber the Australians doing the same jobs.

One lady in Blackwater said she certainly wasn’t a local as she’d only been there 15 years, but loved the place – that’s a huge mining town but also a major rail junction to ship on extremely long trains, all the way to the coast to Rockhampton.

Another chap had lived in his trailer home (as they are called in New Mexico!), for over 20 years and was just beginning to think of himself as a local; said he couldn’t live anywhere else.

Despite the fact that a number of people we have met who were born overseas, they have tended to be the permanent residents of the parks. It’s the fair-dinkum grey nomads who call themselves Australian that seem to be the majority of the tourists.

Not far up The Track (Stuart Hwy to Darwin), we overnighted in another freebie, this time at a small and very full Newcastle Waters. We decided on the very end spot, near where the road trains hurtle past, hadn't been there very long when a station wagon pulled in right behind us. Out got Mr Guitarman and his cattle dog - serenaded us for a while then got out his swag and slept on the bitumen, right next to our loo! It takes all sorts …as my mum would have said… !!

Until we reached Katherine, just south of Darwin, we had not seen many Aboriginal people – until Winton, the birthplace of “Waltzing Matilda” … and those we did see were road workers.

Aborigine people do not caravan at all, nor do they live in any of the caravan parks that we have stayed in.

In Jabiru (beautiful!) Caravan Park in Kakadu National Park, there were two teams of Aboriginal basketball players, all very smartly dressed and well behaved too. They were staying in the cabins but did join in at the bar by the pool for a drink at Happy Hour.

There was no trouble from them – but the noisy Aboriginal people also there seemed to be locals, and just walking through the park – probably because they could.

They tend to walk along the footpath in single file, well spaced out, and shout to each other in conversation as they go. This can be quite comical, except at 3am when they walk through the c/park and shout to each other!! The manager of the park was up all night, fielding complaints.

But who else is in these parks I wonder to myself…..

A very pleasant one-armed fellow here at Yandina, lives 4 vans away from us in a huge bus. He lives with his mum, he’s mobile on his electric chair and they have a healthy income between them of about $80,000!

There’s another ‘van’ I should mention and we met up with it at Camooweal petrol stop – along with so many other vehicles. It was very high off the ground, and built like a massive leopard tank. It had a Swiss registration plate and was a left-hand drive. It possibly had more than one bedroom, I did see what looked like a library and possible a media room too!

The owner was a Swiss chap with partner and the map on the side of their van was of the World, and mark with very clear black lines of the places they had been. I have a photo of this, they had been on every continent on this planet and the black lines were 'snakes' on the map - never-ending ones too, all in this built-to-his own-specifications (he told me), including Antarctica – a new one for me!!

We were very impressed – it took $900 to fill his tanks – a bit like one of those triple-road-trains we got so used to seeing.

(I might just add here, that on arriving at the 2 horse border town of Camooweal (Qld and NT), there's a sign that says "welcome to Camooweal - turn your watches forward 5 years and 30 minutes! - the NT is half an hour behind Qld). Quite right too … The caravan park there is not often full.

In all caravan parks, I think there are the hiding and the hidden, the rich and the not-so-rich, the famous and the infamous in these places ..

… and far from behind anxious about it all, I really like the richness of it all. But I doubt we'll ever find out ...

We would like to think – in these dreadfully uncertain times – that Australia is one place so many different cultures, types and wealth – can exist side by side.

I would like to think so.

Next week when we have one more week of School Holidays to endure (hopefully in a quietly cheap park) – we expect to be at Thorneside, an eastern suburb out near Capalaba and by the Bays in Brisbane. A good friend reliably told us that “yes, I know where that is .. the gypsies live there ……!!”

… so that’s all for now ..until next week from ‘where the gypsies live … !! xx

Posted by twodubfers 19:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Driver and his mate

rain 22 °C

The Driver and his mate

All of his life he’s loved driving and does it well. Many many years ago now, back in December 1967 when David and I lived in Sydney, a group of us were invited to a wedding in Adelaide. One has to remember that back then, Sydney to Adelaide was just as far as it is today but so much more difficult than it is today.

But this was an important wedding . Their friend, Les Southwart whom Dave and Chris met on their ship coming to Australia back in November 1964, was being married to an English girl, Audrey Drake, and because no one in their English families could attend their wedding, they invited the few friends they had got to know in Australia. It was a small wedding with just a handful of guests and comprised mostly of the good folk who made Dave and Chris, in particular, so welcome in their early days before they went to Woomera to work. And that was a Very Hot Place to work – Woomera in December is one of the hottest places in this country.

I mention this wedding because it was a great excuse for us from Sydney to go and “see Adelaide” – or so we thought! However, this wedding was on 27 December, high summer and the holiday season.

David, Chris, and I went across in one car and went directly there in one drive – around 22-23 hours straight; we went to the wedding on the day after we arrived – and then turned around and drove back to Sydney the day after that – another 22-23 hours straight.

Phil Smith (now in Canada) also went but drove his own car and joined us all at the wedding, but afterwards, he kept going to Perth.

The lion’s share of both longs drives in the car carrying Chris, me and Dave was done by Dave. It was a formidable drive – and still is, but the difference is that back in December 1967, the roads were terrible, cars were not air conditioned and the summer heat across the Hay Plains and in South Australia was about as hot as it gets in summer.

The wedding was a happy occasion but Dave and Chris and I had to be back at work on the 29th December. Stoically, we left Adelaide on 28 December, determined to get back in one drive. We each had a turn at driving the 1410kms distance but found after such a long drive to Adelaide just 2 days previously, turned out to be far too much for Chris or I to do.

We handed the wheel to Dave and he drove us at least three quarters of the way back to Sydney and we arrived there as dawn was breaking and all three of us went straight to work!!! A trip none of us will ever forget.

This is a rather long winded way of telling you what a good driver my Dave is. Over the years, we have often talked of that never-ending two-way hot drive and wondered at how he did it. Neither Chris nor I could have done it.

I have always admired the way he focuses on the road ahead, steady as he goes, unrattled by any other driver be it truck, bus, Pdriver, or caravan!! Driving is something Dave does exceptionally well and it is always comforting to know that he is behind the wheel.

On this trip, I have often offered to drive, but no, he chooses to do so and is really so much better than I am – and knows how to drive when towing a rather long caravan too and that does take a bit of skill. (He’s not a particularly good passenger, by his own admission!) And despite the fact he’s almost 72, Dave is just as good a driver today as he was in the 60s. I hope he’ll never change.

However, not only can he drive steadily and well, he manages to fix what seems to be all sorts of little problems we might have with either the car or the caravan.

Light globes don’t light up, the jockey wheel isn’t quite right, the water hose needs a filter – and simply dozens of other jobs inside the caravan have been fixed, after just a mention to him……. I’m impressed and very proud of how he has brought us safely to (almost) the end of our tripl.

For my part, I just cook, wash, wash up, shop – keep an eye on the finances and help him both set up camp and prepare to be on the road again.

I don’t know what I’d do without MY mate – but he’s done a terrific job, My Driver and he’s Mr Fix It too .. and I’m so grateful.

Skippy dog gets back on board tomorrow and we are soooooo looking forward to seeing her again. From all accounts, the Kennels describe her as “a lovely dog” and indeed she is. I’m sure she’ll be as happy to see us as we will be to see her. She's got fresh meat and the best biscuits IGA sells!

We will be staying on the Sunny Coast this week, catching up with quite a few friends, then to Brisbane for a week and after the long weekend, we’ll be heading south again.

S’all for now

My Driver and his mate!

We are wondering whether he might just have driven around 200,000km or possibly even more in the 50 years he’s been here … anyone care to work this out please ….

Posted by twodubfers 02:33 Archived in Australia Tagged the on weather here bloody awful Comments (0)

A Little Celebration

semi-overcast 25 °C

For travelling 10,327km
Friday, 19 September 2014
Gladstone, Qld

We left Kurrimine Beach in Far North Queensland, south of Cairns, just yesterday morning and travelled as far south as Proserpine, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and just inland from Airlie Beach; where the cyclones hit the coast and the rainforest meets the sea. About 500km today ..

It was a long drive past many sugar fields and dozens of cane cutters and we were glad to stop over night in Proserpine at the council caravan park, sandwiched this time between the sugar mill, the town’s Olympic pool, bowling greens and tennis courts, but at least there were no jets or cane trains roaring past or overhead.

Today is Friday, 19 September and is the end of term for literally thousands of schoolies and their families! A good reason to find caravan parks away from the coast and the teeming touring families!

It has astonished us to realise that we could get as far south as Rockhampton, and even further on to Gladstone, where we decided to stop for the night. Today, we've done about 520km.

And that’s the reason for our Little Celebration tonight. David tells me that, as at the end of our travelling today, we have travelled 10,327 km on this trip and therefore we are staying the night here in Gladstone in a Motel!! Just imagine, a real bed, a real bathroom and space! It does feel a bit odd!

Actually it hasn’t been at all difficult living in our caravan, NFA (“No Fixed Abode”) and we have enjoyed every single minute. But over 10300 km is a very long way indeed – almost as far as a trip to see My Family! And so tonight we’ve treated ourselves to a Salmon and Avocado Pizza and a bottle of red – and it was delicious.

Over the next few days we shall head south to our much loved Sunshine Coast, and collect Skippy dog from Peregian Pet Resort which isn’t far from the Ginger Factory in Yandina, and probably only 20 minutes from Buderim. We can hardly wait to see her again.

We shall take a peek at Horseshoe Bend, Buderim, and call in on a few of our old neighbours as we believe there have been many changes since we left and we want to see them for ourselves and take some photos.

It will be super to have our little dog with us again – although we suspect that with only a bit of exercise, she will more than likely be a much bigger dog!! But then we haven’t exactly lost much weight either.

We have worked as a team for this trip and are still shaking our heads at the distances we have travelled, the places we never dreamed of visiting, and some we didn't even know existed – and most especially for the amazing people we have met.

It’s been one of the most amazing and interesting things we have ever done in our lives – and we are grateful to have been able to achieve it.

There are so many stand out memories for us – but the best one is to have got to know so much more about the land we love. It’s been a tremendous privilege to have seen first hand so much of what makes Australia great.

Lesley and David
PS I've lost the ability to attach photos to this blog … so apologies for that.

Posted by twodubfers 03:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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