Nimbin. Tuesday, 12.10pm
‘Would you like this bread?’ Michael asks me.
Michael was strolling down Cullen Street, two loaves of bread swinging from his hand. Seeing me seated at a cafe table on the footpath, he stopped. Like all good Nimbinites he wasn’t in a hurry. He has discovered, as did Einstein, that time is relative.
‘Nimbin’s finest,’ he says, and drops a loaf onto my table, curving spacetime and vibrating my cafe latte. ‘You can have that.’
Forty years on from the Aquarius festival, when thousands of young people looking for an alternative to greed, war and The Brady Bunch descended on Nimbin, this village is still sharing its celebration of humanity, attracting the creative, the visionary, the lost, the dodgy, and those who refuse to wear K-Mart clothing.
Sharing bread is special.
Jesus, the first hippie, did it at his last supper before the police busted him. Love and peace, like sharing, have never been embraced by materialist societies. (Nimbin is not much loved by governments.) Jesus, who had Middle-Eastern features anyway, was a threat to society with his bad attitude to rich people and moneylenders. So he got nailed.
Jesus is walking towards me. (He’s back!) Long hair, flowing linen robes tied by a studded leather belt, and sandals. Beneath sad, red eyes, a beatific smile seems to create a halo around Him. But I guess it’s probably just light bending around His great gravitational pull.
‘Oh, hello Mark.’
It’s not Jesus.
I sip my latte.
The label on the bread says ‘Hippie Spelt’. It says this bread is made from locally grown biodynamic grain, which is milled at the Nimbin Community Grain Mill before being baked in the building next to where I am. Cool.
I appreciate healthy, clean food. I appreciate local, sustainable, non-toxic industry. Nimbin has become a centre for sustainable lifestyles and technologies. And a centre of resistance to poisonous activities like CSG mining. The original festivalgoers would be proud.
I also appreciate a Nimbin product without a marijuana leaf on it – though cannabis seed in the loaf would make it an extra-nutritious bread. Sadly, cannabis seed is illegal in NSW because cannabis is bad, apparently. It hasn’t always been bad.
Moses, like many lost souls, used the ‘burning bush’ to give him a much-needed sense of direction as well as some serious insights – like 10 rules to live by. (He also talked to God and saw a golden cow! That’s cannabis for you.)
Jesus (aka Mark) stops and talks to a woman with blue hair and rabbit ears.
Nimbin people are a diverse bunch. The street looks like a bar scene from a Star Wars movie; all sorts of exotic heads drift and eddy under the murals. Grey dreadlocks, rapper crew cuts, rainbow-coloured tints, stiff fringes, rabbit ears, shiny bald pates and a halo float above the cafe tables, smiles flashing like photons in Nimbin’s electromagnetic field.
Nimbin has contributed much to the world – and has given me bread.
Unfortunately, the loaf is wrapped in plastic.
After 40 years, the Nimbin dream is not over, as some say, but rather the dream has become reality – complete with mistakes and concessions to contemporary society. Like plastic bags for the organic bread. Like sniffer dogs and helicopter raids.
But it’s a new century and there are new generations with new dreams to share. There’s much to do in Nimbin.
‘Better go,’ Michael says, converting his mass into energy and diving into the river of Nimbin folk flowing by. They carry him into the future at nowhere near the speed of light.
‘Thanks for the bread,’ I call after him.