It’s almost that time of year again— Mardi Grass!
I’m not talking about the popular, well-known Mardi-Gras, or Fat Tuesday, celebration. This festival, taking place in a small village known as Nimbin, is dedicated to supporting the legalization of marijuana.
Nimbin is situated in the northern part of New South Wales, and has been described by writer Austin Pick, “as if a smoky avenue of Amsterdam has been placed in the middle of the mountains behind frontier-style building facades… Nimbin is a strange place indeed.”
Known for its cannabis counterculture, as people openly sell and consume marijuana in both smokeable and edible forms on the streets, Nimbin has held the Mardi-Grass reform rally since 1993.
Marijuana is by no means legal in New South Wales, but Nimbin seems to be an exception. It’s like this mythical fairy land where everything is rainbows and smiles. Literally.
Nimbin and surrounding areas are known as the “Rainbow Region”, home to the Australian Aboriginal Bundjalung people. The Bundjalung tribes believe the spirits of wounded warriors are present within the mountains. These spirits are believed to protect the area.
Nimbin is a really awesome tourist attraction in Australia, especially for people who support this alternative lifestyle. The people in Nimbin are quirky and sweet, and the shops are really funky and unique.
While I am unfortunately not in Australia for this year’s festival, taking place April 30th and May 1, I was lucky enough to attend in 2014. And it was an interesting experience to say the least.
My friends and I bought “Golden Bud” passes, but I’m not going to lie, we spent most of our weekend hot boxing a tent. Other than that we were either eating or sleeping. I even fell asleep at a skate park in the middle of the day for at least an hour. People who say cannabis is dangerous have no idea what they are talking about.
There were Hemp Olympix with Bong Tosses and Joint Rolling Competitions, which I totally would have won, had I not been too afraid to enter due to all the cops everywhere. (I might’ve been just a little paranoid).
We also attended a comedy show, where all the comedians were too high so none of their jokes were really that funny. But we laughed because it was so not-funny that it was funny. It might’ve just been an understood We’re all just too stoned for this so let’s just laugh about it kind of funny.
But best of all were the Ganja Fairies. Beautiful, green, shimmering fairies dancing and celebrating in honour of our dearest fairy bud-mother Mary Jane.
Appropriately, at 4:20pm on the final day of the protest, activists participate in the Global Marijuana March. Nimbin aims “to break the world record for the most joints ever lit at once in the same place at the same time.”
However, it isn’t just about a bunch of hippies getting together and lighting up. Mardi-Grass aims to educate consumers about the medical uses of marijuana and the history of the plant.
I was also lucky enough to see The Nimbin Museum and Rainbow Cafe before they burnt down in a fire a few months later. There has been word of them rebuilding these locations, but I haven’t heard of any progress. I strongly hope they are restored, as they really contributed to the unique culture of this small town.
One of my fondest memories in Australia took place as I was sitting outside the Rainbow Cafe with a few friends playing chess. An older gentleman came up to us and gave us caramel tart cookies. I know you should never take food from a stranger, but I knew I was in safe hands with my mates around. And let me tell you, there was nothing like this delicious treat. Something about that sweet sugary goodness had me smiling from ear to ear all day long…
To learn more about this reform rally or the facts on this “gateway drug”, check out the official Mardi Grass website.
Note: WanderLUST Mag does not condone participating in illegal activities.
However, when in Nimbin, do as the Nimbinjee spirit people would do.
(All photos taken at The Nimbin Museum prior to the 2014 fire.)