You’ll find one of the world’s most famous hippie havens in a green valley on the edge of an old, extinct volcano in the Northern Rivers region of the NSW far North Coast. Nimbin is a colourful alternative lifestyle centre that’s just as captivating as the ancient UNESCO World Heritage rainforest that surrounds it.

Nimbin Markets, Nimbin

Culture & festivals

The 1973 Aquarius Festival established Nimbin’s place at the heart of Australia’s counterculture revolution. Communes sprouted in the hills in the 1970s and 1980s. The town is still a popular destination for cultural festivals and a great base for exploring the natural wonders nearby. Check out the events calendar for festivals, markets and shows.

The Nimbin Poetry World Cup in September is a battle of wordsmiths in the Nimbin School of Arts Hall, which opened in 1904. The Nimbin Roots Festival, also in September, is three musical days of roots, blues, folk and folk rock. And let’s not forget the annual Nimbin MardiGrass Festival, a rally for cannabis law reform that’s been held each year since 1993.

Bright, striking murals are painted on buildings’ facades and parapets, just one feature of the vibrant arts community. At Nimbin Artists Gallery and Nimbin Craft Gallery browse the fine works by local artists and artisans, from paintings and fashion to ceramics and jewellery. The Nimbin Spring Arts Exhibition is held in the spring school holidays.

Friends chat at an alfresco cafe on Cullen Street, Nimbin

Eat & drink

The volcanic soils are ideal for farming. Taste fresh produce at the Nimbin Farmers’ Market, held every Wednesday afternoon. The Nimbin Show in September is a traditional agricultural show, with displays of sustainable farming methods and newer enterprises from bee-keeping to industrial hemp.

Nimbin’s main street is dotted with buildings from the early 20th century, and you’ll find a surprisingly large range of places to eat in the small town. Grab breakfast and coffee at Dutch & Co, try the handmade pasta and woodfired pizza at Armonica, or pick up something sweet at Nimbin Bakery.

Nimbin Rocks, Nimbin

Rainforest adventures

Leave town for a while to admire Nimbin’s nearby natural beauty. Explore Nightcap, Wollumbin and Border Ranges national parks all part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Take the Protesters Falls walking track in Nightcap to a gorgeous waterfall, named after a 1979 environmental protest to save the rainforest.

Getting there & where to stay

Nimbin is an 8hr 25min drive north of Sydney and 2hr 30min south of Brisbane. Rex flies from Sydney to Lismore (via Grafton) up to three times a week and you can hire a car for the 30min drive. More flights are also available to Ballina Byron Gateway Airport, 1hr 10min away. Accommodation options in Nimbin and surrounds range from guesthouses and retreats to cottages, farm houses and youth hostels that suit every type of budget.