Existing Member?

Life Happens The adventures of Nora Dunn & Kelly Bedford, Professional Hobos. Nora writes, Kelly makes music. Together, we are on a lifelong journey to...wherever.

Lonely Planet Great Guidebook Moment: Nimbin

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 21 June 2008 | Views [12599] | Comments [11]

Here’s how Lonely Planet primed us for the town of Nimbin:

Landing in Nimbin can be like entering a social experiment, particularly at noon, when Byron day-trippers arrive en masse and find themselves hectored by dreadlocked, tie-dyed pot dealers on the main street. This is the stereotype, of course (not all pot dealers wear tie-dye), and Nimbin’s residents and culture are actually far more eclectic.


Not like we’re pot-smoking hippie fiends or anything, but after our experiences in Hawaii, we just HAD to see what the scene was like in Nimbin by comparison!


Entering Nimbin we were prepared for a similar town of size and culture to Puna, in Hawaii. Also renowned for its pot culture (so much so that other redeeming qualities can be overlooked), we figured that Pahoa and Nimbin would be sister towns.


And in no less than 15 minutes, we were indeed offered various forms of “ganga/smoke/weed/pot/marijuana/hippie grass”. We were even offered such delicacies as cookies and brownies – but at the asking prices there had to be some special ingredients in there other than just plain sugar, butter, and love.


Nimbin also marked our first foray into staying at a caravan park (aka trailer park in North America). They are very common in Australia, as the preferred way to enjoy Australia is to hire (rent) and drive a camper van or trailer from destination A to B. Given the vastness of the country, it’s a great way to get around.


But as we had figured out, we occasionally need power. After days of driving from campsite to campsite in Springbrook, and only having power to charge our various electronics while we made short drives, we were starting to get a little power-hungry. And Nimbin’s caravan park had our solution at a price less than 2/3 of the cost of pitching a tent at the local hostel. (We are on a budget, after all).


We didn’t know how long we were to stay in Nimbin. Aside from smoking pot and watching the years go by, we didn’t initially see too much to entice somebody to stay longer than a day or so. But in chatting with the owner of a fruit shop, she told us her story of visiting Nimbin over the years, falling in love with it more and more each time, and eventually learning to relax long enough to stay. She said you need at least a few days to get into the groove. And the groove of which she spoke had nothing to do with pot.


And although Lonely Planet prepared us for the pot culture, they also hinted at the artistic presence and generally eclectic vibe. We were happy to visit an Aboriginal Cultural Center and wile away some time chatting with a local Aborigine about making and playing didgeridoos. The art gallery was filled with beautiful artwork, and incredibly reasonable ceramics (why didn’t I pick up that mortar & pestle for heaven’s sake?).


And the Hemp Embassy is also a sight to behold. In a very diplomatic and clean fashion, various marijuana paraphernalia is sold (from pipes to papers), as well as hemp clothing (don’t try to smoke it though – you won’t get high) and a presentation of the heritage and history of hemp. For those who don’t know, hemp is actually something of a miracle crop, and can be used for a variety of products, in many cases more effectively than its cotton alternative.


Lounging around in the morning at Rainbow Café with a local paper revealed the constant push to change the image of Nimbin in the eyes of the tourism industry. There are some amazing projects being pioneered in the areas of permaculture, solar power, and alternative healthy living that can go unnoticed by the “tourist” looking to score some weed. After our stint in Hawaii, it was refreshing to see “intentional community” development, and prominent business people speaking out for a town with a tiny voice.


And the caravan park was surprisingly cushy. We had power to charge various appliances, showers to bathe in (muchly needed showers I might add), laundry facilities, some interesting people to converse with, and a chance to just plain sit down and catch up on some computer work. Travel for us involves much juggling of doing the “travel” part, then the “follow-up” part, which ranges in nature from writing to videos to downloading pictures to just plain reflecting on our vast and differing experiences.


Nimbin provided just the opportunity for us to relax, slow down, reflect, write, and soak in a little alternative lifestyle culture. We don’t know about the “ganga/smoke/weed/pot/marijuana/hippie grass” so much, but we felt that aside from that, Nimbin has lots to offer somebody willing to stay long enough to see it.

Tags: ambassador van, arts and culture, lonely planet great guidebook moment, nimbin, world nomads



Hi there. Just read the story above about your stay in Nimbin. I am actually the lady who owned the fruit shop that you speak of. Guess what, we closed the fruit shop and now are the new managers of the caravan park you stayed at. We have been here for about 15 months now. The old managers residence has gone and in its place is a new house and office (where we now live). We still have our own home in Thorburn Street and Nimbin hasn't changed one bit since you were here. Thanks for writing such a nice story about Nimbin and hopefully you will return to visit us.

Kind regards

  Jennene Matteson Jul 19, 2010 5:09 PM


@Jennene - How cool that you found this entry and responded! It's those little conversations like the one we had with you that make our travel experiences full and real. Thank you for being so kind to us!
And congrats on the move to owning the caravan park! It's a great place, and I'm sure you'll do awesome things with it.
I too, hope to return to Nimbin before too long....here's hoping....

  Nora - The Professional Hobo Jul 19, 2010 7:46 PM


I stayed at the Nimbin Caravan Park after reading this review only to find it to be very disappointing. The lady manager - Jennene Matteson was not very helpful and her husband Wayne Van Boheemen was extremely rude. The park is do run down - you get a cleaner shower at one of the local waterholes and and more peace and quiet at the local pub than the caravan park. Check out the real Nimbin Tourist Caravan Park on uTube: http://www.youtube.com/CaravanParkReviews#p/u

  Diesocritter Aug 16, 2010 6:32 PM


Hi Nora
Just noticed the third comment on your site - such a shame that people have to spoil things. I know the person who wrote that comment and there is quite a story and history to them (as you can imagine). All part of the Nimbin experience! You have to feel sorry for some people.

Take care

  Jennene Matteson Aug 20, 2010 5:18 PM


Hi Nora,
I stayed at the Nimbin Caravan Park too and what a mistake that was! Never again!!! I have traveled throughout Asia and yet have never seen such disgusting showers and toilets as what I encounted at the Nimbin Caravan Park. And yes the Nimbin Caravan Park and the Managers Wayne and Jennene can be very abusive. They have a history - just check out the uTube channel if you want to really see what the park is like: http://www.youtube.com/CaravanParkReviews#p/u
DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY - Stay somewhere else!

  Yearly Traveler Nov 22, 2010 7:53 AM



  Silo Apr 25, 2014 9:29 PM


nimbin caravan park is the worst place i ever stayed in. To many bad drugs, to much violence. I was assaulted three times by a permanent resident and had to take legal action against this fellow. The management and owners of the park refused to take action against this fellow and had him performing odd jobs off the books. disgustig i wasnt safe.

  bruce hamilton Aug 3, 2014 2:50 PM


ask yourselves what vibes you give and take brother / sister....

  vibes Feb 10, 2016 12:12 PM


Great place, cheap, can take your dog, hoping to stay again in a couple months.

  Amy Nov 8, 2016 7:47 AM


Wow! What a great place to stay the owners are incredibly friendly and helpful. The park is clean and tidy and they obviously take pride in it. We've been loving our regular stay there and the convenience of being so close to the hub!

  Sam Freeman Jul 21, 2017 7:16 AM


If you are facing any issue related to electronic items you can contact us at Geek squad support and we will provide you with best possible solutions for your problem. You can contact us anytime and we will do our best to resolve your issue.

  Geek squads Mar 16, 2019 5:44 PM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about Australia

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.