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This Is Northern New South Wales

Grasshopper Tours in Nimbin


Words and Images by Winston Struye…. 

The morning of my trip to Nimbin is slightly overcast, chilly, and the sky is looking like it wants to rain.  In addition, as per usual at 10 AM, I’m tired, yet to have fully woken up, and still digesting a rushed breakfast.  Staring up into the sky, rain drops start to trickle down and I see a rainbow in my peripheral vision, a rainbow heading straight towards me.  It get’s closer and I realize the Rainbow is indeed on wheels, it’s the paint scheme of the Grasshoppers tour bus.

The bus’ paint job gives you a strong insight as to where your going and what your day is going to be like.  Bright, varied, and something, that you wonder how it possibly came to existence.  The other backpackers around me have the same look on their faces before we all step on the bus, confusion, trepidation, and excitement.  I would assume this is the first time any of us have ever walked onto a rainbow-colored bus, it certainly was for me.  I hop onto the bus and am welcomed by our tour guide, Jim, with a warm smile that reads “we’re going to have a good time today.”

After running a few more hostel pick ups, Jim begins to drive out away from the beach and into the hinterland.  We’ve just left the backpacker hostels behind and Jim has already got us in tune for the day with Canned Heat – On the Road Again coming through the speakers.  Driving through the forests, the soundtrack and it’s lyrics begin to get us all into a high long before we even reach Nimbin.

And I’m going to leave the city, got to go away.

I’m going to leave the city, got to go away.


But before we get too far of the city, Jim stops to give us an introductory talk for the day.  As he speaks about getting pulled over by police, backpackers having bad trips, and what it’s like living in the area, it becomes clear that Jim is a rare tour guide – he didn’t learn any of this stuff from textbooks, he experienced it all.  And in addition to being an encyclopedia of knowledge, he is perfectly in-tune to the backpacker attitude, fun, worry-free, and ready to party.  Jim finishes with “it looks like we’ve got a good group today, we tell the booking agencies that this tour is not suitable for the elderly and children, and none of your are in that category, so welcome aboard!”  And with that, a wave of excitement runs through the bus.

Our day officially begins at Minyon Falls just outside of Byron.  Walking down the path we’ve got no idea what to expect, most of us not even knowing this tour included anything besides Marijuana in Nimbin, and before we know it we are staring straight over a 100-meter cliff edge and into what looks like something from the Amazonian Rainforest.  The view has bright green palm trees and a silver midst rising from them, like a scene you would see in Planet Earth.  Because of the lack of a recent rainfall, the “water” fall part of Minyon falls is currently on hiatus, but everywhere else makes up for the lack of.  The view is better than any of us expected, and something many of us city-slickers thought we would only see with David Attenborough narration.  Half expecting to see some gorilla’s roaming through the forest, the scene truly looks like a tropical rainforest.


We leave the falls behind and venture down a skinny one-way dirt road in the National Park.    Driving through I realize this tour is taking me far away form the “beaten path,” which makes me feel content.  We have a quick refuel at the Channon pub before the Nimbin Rocks come into sight and Jim tells us we are getting close.  Just before entering town Jim educates us on the history of Nimbin, how it was just another dairy town in the forest until 1973 when the Aquarius festival was welcomed into the area and changed the town into what it is now.  After our history lesson, Jim answers the real, important questions that all of us have been aching to know.

1) “How much does marijuana cost?”

2) “Where should I buy the marijuana from?”

3) “How are they allowed to sell Marijuana?”

Jim answers all these questions for us with fantastic information but reminds us that buying Marijuana and bringing the illegal substance on the bus is definitely not recommended.


Walking down the streets I do some perusing around the Nimbin shopping and that big green plant seems to be continually surrounding me.  I walk into the Hemp Embassy where I am greeted by a big joint (similar to “The Big Banana” in Coff’s Harbour/“The Big Prawn” in Ballina ), I walk into Bring-A-Bong where I am greeted by the most amounts of Rasta colors I’ve ever seen, and I walk into the Nimbin Museum where I am greeted by … well …. I’m greeted by alot of things in the Nimbin Museum.  Without having had a single puff, tab, or snort, I feel like I’m definitely “tripping out” walking through this complex-beyond-comprehension museum.  The amount of bizarre stories written on the walls, intricate antiques, deep meanings, vivid designs, and whatever else is infinite in this museum.  It’s difficult to explain the museum in text, but to summarize a mate asked me “how far does this museum go?” when he first walked in, and I responded to him “far out of this universe.”


Walking around the rest of town you almost feel like Alice, waiting for the mad hatter to run past you or the giant smiling cat to crawl down from the tree, Nimbin is one of those places that shouldn’t exist.  But it does, and if you ever feel stressed and need something to “relax,” I hear the dreadlocked lady sell’s some great “cookies,” but Jim tells me they are quite strong and warns that it’s best to only take half.


We all meet at the bus stop some time later to continue the journey. Driving back into the hinterland is beautiful! Jim then pulls over at Hosana farm-stay for an Aussie BBQ.  The BBQ is something I’ve personally been looking forward to, what’s not to enjoy about a great meal cooked out in the bush?  Hosana farm does not disappoint, situated on a lake sprinkled in lily pads and long grasses, it turns out to be an idyllic spot for an afternoon sizzle.  Jim lay’s down what seems to be an endless amount of sausages and burgers and once the tomatoes have been cut we are all served a delicious meal.  Enjoying our food is easy, relaxed, and thought-free, exactly what we all need after having our minds blown in Nimbin.


Our last stop before returning to Byron is in a small town of Australiana.  Crabbes Creek proves to be very average, but with something unique in it’s average-ness.  It’s so quintessentially Australian that for non-Australians (which is just about everyone on the tour), it’s totally different.  The general store is not much more than a tin roof, Vegemite, and cheap Carlton Draught, but for us backpackers who have been stuck inside tourist-hubs, it’s nice to see this slice of Australia.  The beauty of Crabbes Creek lies in their “Drinking Shed,” a large shed, decorated in rusty license plates, bush man tools, and the “beer prayer” in laminated paper.  It is Friday afternoon, which is apparently when the “Drinking Shed” is most heavily used; all the locals form the area convening for a Friday arvo brew and pizza.


We stock up on booze and drive back towards Byron, the ride home is chilled, the bus either fully tuned-out or fully tuned-in depending on how you look at it.  Jim drops me off at my hostel and I leave the bus a happy camper. But returning to the hostel I feel high, just on what a great tour I’ve been given.  Having returned I feel back in my place, Nimbin was such a extraordinary place that I feel as if I’ve woken up from a dream, and most of my fellow backpackers seem to think the same.  After the trip was over I went back to several of them to try to get their thoughts from the day, but everyone seemed to only be able to give one-word answers, which proves again what a hard place Nimbin is to describe.  A small town that is lush in herbs, rich in rainbows, and vividly painted in red, yellow, and green, Nimbin is a place that every foreigner in Byron must not pass up.