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January 26, 2022

The man who holds Nimbin’s heart in his hands

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The Kombi out the front of the Nimbin Museum. (Darren Coyne)
The Kombi out the front of the Nimbin Museum. (Darren Coyne)

Darren Coyne

The millionaire owner of the building that housed the Nimbin Museum wants to restore it so that it is ‘better than before’.

Richard Andary, chief executive of the Andary Group, told Echonetdaily that he had been shocked to hear of the fire which destroyed the museum, neighbouring shops and the Rainbow Cafe.

Richard Andary, owner of the building which housed the Nimbin Museum. (file pic)
Richard Andary, owner of the building which housed the Nimbin Museum. (file pic)

‘I’ve been reading articles on what happened and like everyone else I was shocked,’ he said.

Although he has only visited Nimbin once, in 2008 when police attempted to close the museum because of its alleged association with the cannabis trade, Mr Andary said he understood the significance of the site.

‘There was a lot of heritage, a lot of history and it’s a shame it’s all gone,’ he said.

Mr Andary said he had already been approached by the Lismore City Council and had been told the council would be supportive of any plans that improved the site.

‘That was a comforting call,’ he said.

‘If I could start working tomorrow it would be done but right now we’ve got to follow the protocol and find out what they will allow and what they won’t,’ he said.

Mr Andary said he was working with his insurance company and consultants to determine the way forward, and was keen to find a local architect who could redesign the site.

‘At present we are still in the dark but my intention is to rebuild as soon as possible,’ he said.

The building had been on the market for $1.2 million prior to the fire, and Mr Andary said he had received some ‘expressions of interest’ but was in no rush to sell.

Nimbin museum curator Michael Balderstone said the community was already talking about what could be rebuilt on the site.

Mr Balderstone said he was keen to see a new museum celebrating the alternative culture of Nimbin.

‘I know I’m dreaming but maybe he (Mr Andary) might want to take the insurance money and sell the land,’ he said.

‘We have a terrific collection of Aquarian memorabilia in Southern Cross University and the Mitchell Library in Sydney and if we could get a government grant it could all be re-established,’ he said.

‘My other dream is that it could be turned into a green area for music and markets, with a museum.

‘The hippie culture of Nimbin is worthy of a museum,’ he said.

‘I’ve already had quite a few people contacting me saying they’ve got stuff for a new museum.’

‘The fire has left a big hole in the heart of Nimbin but it will evolve again. Nimbin’s strength is the community, and we will be really creative with what happens on the site.’



More stories about the Nimbin Fire

Plan to rebuild Nimbin’s ‘heart’ gathers pace

The new owners of the former Nimbin Museum site and associated shops will meet with staff at the Lismore City Council tomorrow.


Nimbin considers future of sites following fire

The future of the iconic buildings burnt to the ground in Nimbin in August is still up in the air.


Nimbin on track to restore its heart

A fundraiser will be held this Saturday aimed at ‘Restoring the Heart’ of Nimbin. The fundraiser is the initiative of Matthew Raikes, who was born in Nimbin, where his mother Cathie McIntosh ran a youth refuge for nearly ten years.


Future of Nimbin fire site up in the air

Sydney businessman Richard Andary has ‘no plans’ for the site on which the Nimbin Museum and adjacent shops once stood before a fire last month.


Police appeal for witnesses to Nimbin fire

Police have issued an appeal to anyone who may have seen ‘a number of people’ in Nimbin’s main street shortly before a fire broke out which gutted the Nimbin Museum, Rainbow Café and other buildings last week.


Nimbin clean-up gets underway

The clean-up of Nimbin as begun. Heavy machinery moved onto the site of last week’s fire this morning to begin the process of removing damaged awnings and other debris.


The man who holds Nimbin’s heart in his hands

The millionaire owner of the building that housed the Nimbin Museum wants to restore it so that it is ‘better than before’.


Nimbin laments loss as fire investigations continue

Nimbin has been left reeling following a fire which destroyed the Nimbin Museum, Rainbow Cafe, and a number of other businesses yesterday morning. But in true hippie spirit, locals are already talking about what will rise from the ashes, as police investigate the cause of the blaze.


Here & Now #67: Nimbin, my place of dreams

I came to Nimbin in the early 80s, a refugee from north Queensland where the police had taken to shooting hippies. Keen to try something new, I started working. The Rainbow Cafe had been empty for some months so my north Queensland family and I took over the lease.


Nimbin’s iconic buildings go up in smoke

Nimbin has lost some of its most iconic buildings including the Nimbin Museum and Rainbow Cafe in a fire that ripped through the heart of the village early this morning.


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