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There are more things to do in Nimbin than get high! There are many people, activities and ideas in ‘Australia’s counterculture capital’ that the average day-tripper misses.
Follow this guide to 42-odd things to do in Nimbin, Australia and enjoy a visit to this one-of-a-kind village in the Northern Rivers. Home to the Widjabul/Wia-bal people of the Bundjalung Nation, please be respectful… and be cautious while driving the tight mountain roads… or you might hit a Nimbin pothole!
Welcome to Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia.
My advice for those who want to visit? Mind the potholes. Unsurprisingly, the ‘pot’ capital of Australia has a few potholes and it’s not a metaphor…literally, mind the potholes. Recent flooding devastated the Northern Rivers region (and roads) in 2022 so please be prepared for bumpy roads. Please drive cautiously.
Is Nimbin worth visiting?
It’s definitely worth navigating the potholes for! I suggest two or more days to visit this small village. While the small village itself can be circled in an hour, there are hidden gems and natural attractions in the local area that could easily take another day or two to see.
Nimbin doesn’t move at a fast pace, with an ongoing local joke about “Nimbin Time” being considerably slower than elsewhere in the region. In my opinion, this is Nimbin’s appeal – it is a great place to take a few days just to relax. Plus, after you read this post, you’ll easily have activities to keep you busy for a weekend or more!
So, let’s get into it…
Are there really 42 0dd things to do in Nimbin, Australia?
Yes! The first thing to do in Nimbin is to learn a bit about its unusual history (or skip to the things to do).
In 1973, The Aquarius Festival – a ten-day gathering for celebrating counter-culture ideas, arts and music – attracted over 10,000 people to the small rural community. Many attendees decided to stay after the festival, buying land in the local area and laying the foundation for small communities based on an anti-establishment ethos that remains to this day.
Located in a combination of subtropical rainforest and sclerophyll eucalypt forests, it was settled in the 1840s; first for timber clearing, then dairy and banana farming in the early 20th century.
The traditional custodians of the land are the Widjabul Wia-bal people of the Bundjalung Nation and Nimbin got its name from the local Bundjalung word(s) nyimbuyn/ngumbiyn or nyiimbuyn (Either “a little man who dwells in mountains or rocks” or possibly “camp, hut or house“).
In the Nimbin Soundtrails app (see below, highly recommended) there are a few 5-minute audio stories from locals such as “Wyabul Country/Welcome to Nimbin” from Uncle Cecil Roberts, a custodian for the Nimbin Rocks who speaks more about this ‘little hairy man’.
Where is Nimbin, Australia?
Nimbin is located in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, 179 km south of Brisbane and 766 km north of Sydney, nestled between the larger regional centres of Byron Bay and Lismore. Find a map of the village here.
What is the population of Nimbin?
Nimbin is a village with a population of ≈1500.
Byron Bay to Nimbin via Lismore – Nimbin to Byron Bay via Lismore
The easiest way to get to Nimbin from Byron Bay is to drive via Lismore. Go west from Byron Bay via the B62 to Lismore, then north from Lismore via Nimbin Road. Follow the same route south to Lismore, then East to Byron Bay on your return. The journey is approx. 80km one way and takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Brisbane to Nimbin via Murwillumbah – Nimbin to Brisbane via Murwillumbah
Take the M1 south from Brisbane via the Gold Coast and then take the exit for Tweed Valley Way. Follow Tweed Valley Way, Kyogle Rd and Blue Knob Rd to Nimbin. The journey is approx. 180km and takes around 2 1/2 hours.
Kyogle to Nimbin – Nimbin to Kyogle
Take the Summerland Way west (Kyogle/Stony Chute Roads). The journey is approx. 33km and takes around 45 minutes. Yet, this route is currently not recommended as road damage/landslides and road works make for a difficult drive. I’d recommend going via Lismore or Murwillumbah for better road conditions overall.
Please check road conditions beforehand (especially during wet weather) as water levels on winding country roads to Nimbin can rise quickly. You are likely to have an easier drive in a 4WD or ‘off-road ready’ vehicle. Drive Slowly and Soberly in Nimbin! Mountain roads can be treacherous in the dry and when wet, doubly so.
There are local bus options (650 and 647) that run from Nimbin > Lismore > Nimbin and several local and tourist services from Byron Bay > Nimbin > Byron Bay. Directions and times change frequently so confirm at the Visitor Information Centre in the Bush Theatre Cafe building. Daily tours from Byron Bay stopped during the pandemic but may be running again when you read this.
Follow the signs to All Day Parking off Cullen Street behind the main street shops on the south side of town, near the Police Station and opposite the Presbyterian Church. There is limited street parking on Cullen St.
42 0dd Things to do in Nimbin
Download the Nimbin Soundtrails App. This interactive tour allows you to walk around and learn about the town of Nimbin by following short 5 minute audio stories. You will have a much greater understanding of its history and its people, both local Indigenous people and more recent arrivals. It’s really good.
2. Nimbin Visitor Information Centre / Nimbin Tourist Information
Grab a Roast Dandy Latte and talk to a helpful guide at the Tourist Information Centre located in the Bush Theatre Cafe. Pick up a ‘Welcome to Nimbin’ booklet, which includes a map of the village.
Turn left (before the ‘Welcome to Nimbin’ sign above) when approaching from the North or right when approaching from the South, following any (i), Bush Theatre or Nimbin Candle Factory signage. 9 – 3, 7 days
Then, pop next door and visit the Nimbin Candle Factory to see hand-dipped candles being made. How many kooky candles can you count? 9/10 – 4pm, 7 days
3. Nimbin Good Times Newspaper
Pick up a free copy of the Nimbin Good Times Newspaper, finish the crossword with your coffee, and find out what’s going on in town.
4. Nimbin Markets / Nimbin Farmers Market
Browse many weird and wonderful local items for sale every fourth and fifth Sunday of the month, or grab some fresh produce at The Nimbin Farmers’ Market each Wednesday afternoon (next to the Post Office).
5. Nimbin Street Code
Find the Nimbin Street Code sign outside the Hemp Embassy. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all followed such a code?
The Nimbin Hemp Embassy is a non-profit association that fundraises via the Hemp Embassy Shop, staffed by volunteers. The Embassy also supports various community groups and projects in the village of Nimbin including the Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Find out more about the history and usage of hemp here, or pick yourself up one of the hundreds of hemp products. Hemp bikini anyone? 10 – 5, 7 days
7. Nimbin Murals
“In May 1973, in the lead up to the Aquarius Festival, Australian psychedelic artist, Vernon Treweeke, came up with the original idea to “paint up” the village of Nimbin.“
Spot all the murals located throughout town and above the storefronts. Can you find:
- The “Check Mate” mural;
- The “Endangered Species” mural;
- The “Holy Smoke” mural;
- The “Dreamtime” murals;
- The ‘Rainbow Wall”, and
- The ‘”Imagine” mandala at the top of this post?
8. Nimbin Environment Centre
Grab a $2 bumper sticker and show your support for environmental causes at this non-profit organisation, or learn about the Nimbin Environment Centre‘s focus “to defend, protect, preserve and enhance the environment“. 10am – 4pm, 7 days.
9. Nimbin Community Garage Sale
Pick up a second-hand bargain at the Nimbin Community Garage Sale. Clothes for sale are from the local community, many on consignment, and it’s a treasure trove for vintage and unusual items. Wed – Sun 10-2 (times vary). If you see the sign, go on in.
10. Nimbin Organic Food Co-Op
“The Nimbin Organic Food Co-op is a not-for-profit, community-owned organisation, operated and managed by volunteers. Its purpose is to supply members with healthy, affordable food that is ethically and sustainably produced, promoting food grown and produced in the Nimbin bio-region“.
Try some of their Dark Chocolate Goji Berries – look in the fridge – or one of their many yummy (and healthy) treats. They have a bulk food section, for zero waste fans. Mon – Fri 9 – 5 / Sat & Sun 10/11 -2/3
11. Nimbin MardiGrass
If you are in Nimbin in May you might join the thousands of people watching the Kombi Konvoy, Ganja Faeries and Hemp Olympix at the annual Nimbin MardiGrass. This three-day event is a gathering/protest against the criminalisation of cannabis in Australia has been running since 1993. You’ll need to book accommodation well in advance (unless you are happy to camp), as it’s a very popular event.
While a benign presence at other times of the year, police greatly increase their presence during MardiGrass, especially RDT (Random Drug Testing). If you are going to attend, I recommend organising a sober driver (local Drug Free Drivers are available throughout MardiGrass for a fee) to get you to and from Nimbin for the two/three days around the event. There are a number of local Nimbin/RDT facebook groups that can help with info as well.
12. Nimbin Hemp Bar
Grab a hemp brownie or hemp ice-cream at this small ‘Amsterdam-inspired’ bar next to the Hemp Embassy. It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall place that “is a meeting place for Cannabis Law Reform activists from all over earth“. When I was there, the lady next to me stood up and did some impromptu slam poetry, so expect the unexpected. 10 – 5, 7 days
Drop in to learn more about the hemp farming going on in the local area, with the co-operative being a “collective of artisan cottage farmers“. Northern Rivers Hemp was testing their first sale of full-spectrum hemp crystal rollers when I visited. If you are interested in the future of hemp, investors are welcomed.
14. Nimbin Community Centre
Join a Belly Dancing, Life Drawing or Wing Tsun Kung Fu class? In the Nimbin Community Centre building, there is currently a jewellery maker and various other guests including NIM FM and the Nimbin Hemp Club. Mon, Tues, Wed 9 – 4
Nimbin Hemp Club
“Nimbin-based club, specializing in hemp in all its glorious forms. Original hemp balm (topical hemp cream). Advice, hemp clothing, building materials, hemp fusion and a nice spot for a chat and a cuppa.“. Open various times.
15. NIM FM / 102.3 FM
Tune in to NIM FM, Nimbin’s local radio station 102.3 FM and listen to some local grooves.
Pick up a one-of-a-kind piece of art and learn more about the local people. Also known as the Waibal /Waybal Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Donations welcome.
“Providing Connections to Country through Storytelling and Art. Our cultural centre provides a workshop/art studio for workshops and resident artists. It houses a permanent exhibition of indigenous art and provides great coffee and food in our café. You are invited to visit the Nimbin Aboriginal Culture Centre located within the Nimbin Community Centre, with the best access from Sibley Street opposite the Nimbin Skatepark“.
See What Else is Happening in the Nimbin Community
Ask around for what’s on when you are in town. One of the best things about Nimbin is that you never know what is going to be on, with a wide variety of interesting event and activities being held at any one time.
Nimbin School of Arts (Town Hall)
Various local events are held here. The Nimbin School of Arts “…is also the venue for a diverse series of feature programs: the Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup, the Concert of Dances, the Nimbin Fashion Show and the many and zany events of the annual Mardi Grass“.
7 Sibley Street, Nimbin
“Nimbin’s sustainable living hub, 7 Sibley Street, hosts skills-sharing workshops every week, starting at 10.30 am. The workshops are open to locals and visitors wanting to experience ‘grassroots’ Nimbin knowledge with topics spanning shoemaking, paper making, humane home butchery, basket weaving, weed block making and many more! Participate in one of their regular farm tours to get local insight on sustainable farming and land regeneration practices.”
17. Nimbin Skate Park
For visiting skaters, go check out the skate park. “As close to Oregon as you will get, this park is amazing! It features loads of bowls, runs and lines for miles. There are also some small [street-style] elements to keep everyone happy.”
EAT IN NIMBIN
18. Nimbin Bakery
Pick up an Aquarius Loaf, a recipe passed on from baker to baker since the Aquarius festival in 1973, or a number of other delicious pies, pastries, and carb-heavy delights. Mon – Sat: 5:30am – 3pm.
19. Nimbin Hotel
Grab a cold beer at the Nimbin Hotel. They have 16 beers on tap, including local brews from Byron Bay, and live entertainment on a regular basis. Open 7 days.
20. Nimbin Bowling Club
Try the ‘Nimbin Bowlo’, a community owned and run business just a short walk down Sibley St. Open Mic night is held on the 1st, 3rd & 5th Wednesday of the month, as well as Sunday Bowls, Trivia with the CWA, Darts and Live Music. They claim to have “some of the finest food and most reasonably priced drinks in the region“. Wed – Sat 2.30pm till close / Sunday: 8.30 – 6.
“This family owned and operated institution has been a part of Nimbin’s colourful streetscape for over 30 years“. Choose from pizzas, pastas and other Italian fare. Lots of Vegetarian and Vegan options. 5-9pm, 7 days.
22. Nimbin Aquarius Cafe
Fancy some hand-cut chips? “This licensed cafe serves homemade quality food and cakes along with hand-cut chips and great coffee“. 8:30am – 4pm, 7 days.
23. Nimbin Oasis Music Hub and Cafe
Order a Rainbow Chai or a number of cafe-style items. Sun – Wed 8:30am – 7pm. Join Poets at the Oasis Cafe on the first Thursday of every month from 7.30 pm.
Grad something from this organic vegetarian cafe. Mon – Sat 9-4pm.
25. Armonica Cafe
Try a Nimbin Vegan Pizza with Hemp Seeds? M & W 7 – 5:30 / Thu – Sat 7-7:30pm Sun 7-5 / Closed Tuesday
26. Fantasian Eatery
Tuck into some fancy Asian-style takeaway here. W- F 12-7 / Sat 12-3
27. Feast Vegetarian
Satisfy your munchies with a vegan Rahman Kebab and more. Tu – Sun 9-3
There is also the Abundance Cafe at Djanbung Gardens, where a qualified chef prepares “Delicious nutritious food for vegetarians and ethical meat eaters…90% of ingredients are source from within 35km of Nimbin“.
SHOP IN NIMBIN
28. Nimbin Herbs
Buy yourself (or someone you love) a herbal aphrodisiac or potion for the physical libido (and/or headspace!) – among 100s of herbal delights – including teas, tinctures and herbal smokes. Mon – Sat 10:30 – 5 / Sun 11-4
29. Nimbin Haberdashery
Grab a bowl cover – each fabric has a story – or buy some Northern Rivers Fabric, made by Northern Rivers Farmers (by m2). If you’re a crafty type, ask to check out the Wool Shed. M – F 10-4 / Sat 10-12
30. Nimbin Emporium
Shop for supplies in the narrow aisles of Nimbin’s independent ‘supermarket’. Mon – Sat 8-7 / Sun 9:45 – 7
Look inside for arts, crafts and many magical offerings. Can you find the cheeky postcards? 10- 4, 7 days.
Check out the amazing hemp pirate pants and protest 420 wear. The Hemp Couturier, “Saving the world, one couture dress at a time.” – ‘fashion-made-to-fit’ and ‘one-off hemp items’. Wed 11 – 4 / Fri 11 – 4
Interested in a Nimbin tea towel at the Nimbin Newsagency? Or just the news? Mon – Sat 7 – 5:30pm / Sun 8-5
35. The Green Bank
Grab some locally made and sustainable products, including a wide range of teas. Or, perhaps Craniosacral Therapy is more your thing? Mon – Sat 9:30 – 5:30
36. Daizy Nimbin
Follow the thumping beats and peruse the range of rave-esque clothes, some made from backlight glowing neon. Bonus points if you can find the map of Tasmania. Open various hours.
The go-to place for music and instruments, with items such as Sonic Enhancement, treble bass slide and hand pans. Drop into Heart Connexion on a Saturday evening for an impromptu “jam” on Saturday evenings in the warmer months. Ask to check out Nimbin rocks from town – a great back window view! Open various hours.
Admire the Spring and Autumn Artists of the Month, as well as many other talented locals. Open various hours.
Also worth seeing:
Nimbin Tattoo (Kabuki Theatre): Get inked with a permanent Nimbin memento? Open various hours.
Susukka Trading: Pick up a genuine Guatemalan treasure in the heart of Nimbin. 10/11 – 4pm, 7 Days.
Mad Hattery is “not just a hat shop”. There are hats, but also have some great vintage clothing and costumes. 10-4 Everyday
Perceptio Books have a wide range of interesting books on esoteric and alternative topics. 11 – 5, 7 Days.
Fashionating is not just a fashion store, but a magical and colourful delight. 10 – 4 Tu-Sun
Funky Corner has “Groovy Tribal & Bohemian Wear, Jewellery, Arts & Gifts“. 10 – 5 Wed – Mon
Creative Terra Nimbin is a colourful corner of Nimbin. Can you find the hat with the amazing tail? 11 – 5, 7 Days.
Nimbin Freelancers include Amy B Chalk Art / Tarot and Eala Swan @ Santosha Spirit Healing.
The Nimbin Rainbow Road Walking Track is not running yet, unfortunately, but is planned for a 2023 opening. If it is open when you read this, it looks like a great walk.
39. Djanbung Gardens
Take a self-guided tour (with interpretive map) of Djanbung Gardens, the home campus of Permaculture College Australia. They are “transforming a 5-acre degraded compacted cow-pasture into a permaculture paradise of international renown. Since opening in 1994, Djanbung Gardens has attracted thousands of students and visitors from all over world“. Visit the Abundance Cafe, with 90% of ingredients [sourced] from within 35km of Nimbin! Wed – Sat 10-4 (entry by donation).
40. Nimbin Waterfalls
Dive in to the Nimbin waterfalls at Lillian Rock/Hanging Rock Falls, around 25min (17km) North West of Nimbin village. Please be cautious when swimming and jumping into the water.
41. Nimbin Rocks
Take a few sunset photos of Nimbin Rocks from the village or pull in at the viewing area (3 km south of town, off Nimbin Road). Please rememebr that Nimbin Rocks is a sacred area and private property. You must have permission from local owners/custodians to visit.
Can you climb Nimbin Rocks? No, you cannot climb Nimbin Rocks without permission from the Indigenous custodians. It’s private land so please do not trespass! Nimbin Rocks are an important cultural site for local Bundjalung people so you can only view them from the road. Learn more by listening to “Wyabul Country/Welcome to Nimbin” from Uncle Cecil Roberts, a custodian for the Nimbin Rocks.
42. Nightcap National Park
Nightcap National Park and Mt Nardi are ≈20 minutes North East of Nimbin. “The lush rainforest provides a home for the newly discovered nightcap oak as well as a number of threatened animal species, including Albert’s lyrebird and Fleay’s barred frog which takes shelter under leaf litter and makes an ‘ok-ok-ok-ok-ok’ after rain… you can enjoy a picnic, bushwalk or overnight camping trip amid the park’s escarpments, waterfalls and crystal clear creeks and enjoy incredible views of the 20 million year-old Wollumbin shield volcano“.
A few final Nimbin thoughts:
Remember, In New South Wales, the cultivation, possession, or sale of cannabis Is punishable by law. In Nimbin, cannabis is openly bought, sold, and consumed but it is not currently legal in NSW, Australia. If you don’t want to imbibe, there are still a lot of fun and educational things to do in and around Nimbin.
Finally… drive safely (especially in the rain). Drive a 4WD/4X4 where possible with front wheel/all-wheel drive for the best driving experience.
Come to support local people and legally run businesses; your money keeps them in operation. It’s been a particularly difficult few years for the Northern Rivers, so visitors are very welcome. You might do the 42 most odd things you’ve ever done… just mind the potholes!