Harsha Prabhu looks back to Nimbin’s Aquarius Festival and forward to its 40th anniversary.
I will never forget that first ride into Nimbin.
After placing all our worldly possessions in storage, my partner and I drove up from Melbourne with our baby son.
It was a cold night and the winding road and dark, brooding landscape added to the mystery, the promise, the romance of the occasion.
It was the fourth of July and, to us, it felt like a kind of liberation from the dead gulches of suburbia.
That was in 1991 and much has happened since that heady time, but the magic of that first encounter will always be with me. Nimbin taught me much: living on the land, self governing communities, alternative energy systems, environmental activism – and much of it followed a steep learning curve.
But for this education, gained while grappling with leeches, tick infestations and the vagaries of a 12 volt drip feed battery bank, I am forever grateful.
Indeed, in one critical sense, Nimbin made me who I am.
The Nimbin experience – the first Mardi Grass, visions of Nimbin, a vibrant arts and music scene – empowered me to work with others to begin documenting this amazing grassroots culture that mushroomed in those green hills.
I became an archivist, a collector of stories and photographs.
1973 Nimbin Festival
It all began with the famous Aquarius Festival held in Nimbin in May 1973.
But the festival did not end; it became a vortex attracting people down the years in search of a better way to do things and it ended up seeding the whole sustainability movement in what came to be known as the rainbow region of NSW.
Today I live in Byron Bay, but Nimbin magic abides.
The Nimbin Aquarian wave broke on the shores of Byron, making the shire an icon of environmental consciousness, carrying a message of peace and planetary healing to the world.
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Aquarius Festival, the unique cultural and lifestyle event that subtly shaped us all; the reason we choose to live in this amazing part of the planet.
Commemorative book marks 40 years
To celebrate the occasion, we present Rainbow Dreaming – tales from the Age of Aquarius, a book of photographs and stories that celebrates the vision of the sustainability movement.
Rainbow Dreaming represented the region as an exhibition at the fortieth anniversary celebrations of the Woodstock festival in venues in the US in 2009.
Byron Shire residents helped get it there by contributing to our fundraisers.
We are now appealing to you again to help us fund this commemorative book, which will be published in a limited edition of 2,000 copies.
We need to raise over $15,000 by April 1 and with your help, we can make it happen.
Rainbow Dreaming features rare, archival photos from the Aquarius Festival and the work of over 100 of the region’s best loved photographers, writers and cultural visionaries.
All proceeds from the book will go towards the Nimbin Sustainability Hub. See more at www.sevenonsibley.com.
The project is supported by Byron Neighbourhood Resource Centre, Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre and auspiced by Nimbin Community Centre.
The organisers are also seeking sponsorship from local businesses keen to support this project. Please contact me at [email protected] To find out how you can order a copy of the book at a special discounted price of $25, plus postage, and help us make our dream to publish it a reality, please go to: www.pozible.com/rainbow. So far we’ve raised $1,684!
• The full series of Aquarius articles published by Echonetdaily are collected here on one page for easy reference.