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Byron Shire
October 8, 2022

Police pick on Nimbin, yet cities awash with drugs

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Three years ago, our large family moved to the Rainbow Region, about to have our seventh child, and fleeing from a spreading monoculture that seemed to be swallowing the alternative world that we’d been living in, running a Growers Market.

When we first got here, we’d been discussing how we were going to look for somewhere to live around Mullumbimby, around the more upwardly mobile hippies, rather than Nimbin, because there were ‘too many drugs’, which is what a lot of people say and think.

But in reality, I’ve never been looked up and down and sneered at as much as we did walking around Mullumbimby, and as a very beautiful friend said, every time we came to Nimbin, the ‘doors just opened’.

We spent five weeks at the pool in the middle of summer, and unbeknownst to us at the time, met just about the whole of Nimbin. We have never in our lives come across such a diverse, autonomous, self responsible, sovereign, respectful and accepting group of people.

Within five weeks (and barely weeks before giving birth), we were welcomed and accepted on face and heart value, and offered a home as well as a place to stay in the interim.

We met a midwife who went beyond the call of duty, were thrown a party as welcome, given a whole heap of clothes and books and toys, given a house full of furniture by Darcy from 5 loaves, and it all happened in time for the early birth of our baby.

When the locals found out that we were unprepared with clothes, there was a whip around by the local mothers, and they got us enough clothes and blankets and more, delivered to our door.

Out-of-towners and tourists come to Nimbin and see drug culture, but through living here I’ve witnessed so very much more.

The signs coming into Nimbin say it’s the home of the Aquarius Festival, and some friends of ours and us think we should add a few more homes to Nimbin.

Like home of sustainability, home of environmental protectors, home of alternative lifestyles, home of the greatest community living experiment in Australia’s white history, home of forest protesting and blockading, home of diversity and sovereignty, home of healing cannabis oil and hemp education, and home of the Aquarius Festival ongoing in many different directions, as conscious creations by passionate humans dedicated to trying to do things better.

It’s also the only town in the whole of Australia where I’ve been, which is large part of it, where Original Australians are treated with respect. In fact where everybody is treated with respect, unless they choose for it to be otherwise. And it’s the home of the only free pool in Australia, as well as the best skate park and most welcoming bowling club.

We are privileged to have been asked to run Nimbin Markets every 4th and 5th Sunday, and have spent over a year now, helping the community to revive the flagging heart that the market was.

A huge amount of beautiful people have become involved to help reinvigorate what is essentially humanity’s oldest form of community – the town market.

Just the last few months it’s been like a delightful sweet wind has been blowing through the market, building on what’s growing into a beautiful family day, where you can expect the unexpected with the music and performance on the stage, and everyone is starting to buzz about the lovely peaceful vibe.

So imagine what a jarring experience it was at our last Sunday market on 28 September, to have three policemen, armed to the hilt, with a sniffer dog, striding intimidatingly through our market, around behind the stage, and all the way through the main peopled areas, three times no less!

Seemingly on the hunt for someone, walking in a totally menacing manner, and letting their dog jump up onto people, and barge through the crowd. My husband followed them to keep track of what they were doing, and saw the police dog butt into the face of a toddler and knock them backwards. Isn’t that assault?

After such threatening behaviour, our vibrant and pumping market went very quiet. And I heard later that there were other events going on in town that were similarly affected, as the whole of Nimbin emptied out, and left the streets.

This wasn’t the action of paranoid drug dealers and terrorists, but the actions of a generally law abiding public that are afraid. An indication in and of itself, of the increased negative profile of police.

There have been far too many stories lately of police folk shooting people for reaching in their cars, or holding pens, and too many stories of brutality for anyone to feel comfortable in their presence.

Are we all collectively happy with that? There are no more drugs in Nimbin than are available in most towns; it’s just a lot more out in the open. Which, if you talked to many Europeans who have created more sensible laws around drugs, is a much healthier approach in the long run.

And interestingly enough, after this occurred, my husband was in the Emporium and struck up conversation with someone in the line who’d just moved to Nimbin from Ballarat.

When he asked her why, she  responded that she’d moved to Nimbin to get away from drugs, as there was too much ice or meth amphetamine in Ballarat, and there were young folk rolling grandparents for their goods, and stabbing each other on the streets. Wouldn’t police time be better spent on real crimes like this?

What is most disturbing to me, is that all of these actions come on the heels of the fire in Nimbin. That burnt out the heart of our town.

We’ve heard from friends on the inside, that for the police force to have such a presence of 70 or so police in town, with all their resources, would have cost a fortune of taxpayers’ monies. And it’s not something the police do willy nilly. For such a thing to occur, they have to apply for a grant to fund it. And it takes time.

So when the heart of Nimbin burnt, and people lost their spiritual homes, incomes, businesses, and employment, the local police were applying for a grant to hit Nimbin when it was down, hoping to catch folk on the hop.

When the kids in town lost the central meeting place, where they met parents after school, and had a milkshake on the side, there was a grant being applied for.

When some of the most unique buildings in Nimbin, and arguably the entire country, that have attracted so many people from around the world were burnt down, the powers that be decided to instigate an ongoing occupation of harassment and intimidation.

Nimbin is the most over policed country town in the whole of Australia. Are we happy with that?

I would like to invite everyone who reads this to come and visit Nimbin. To look for the things other than what the media tells you this town is about. To support our diversity and passion for the environment and our future on the earth, and help us to stand in solidarity against any threat or intimidation. To get involved in the many community co-operative ventures taking place in our little town, and help to be a part of creating a sustainable way forward for us all. And to help us rebuild the heart of our town, to mirror the human and earth-friendly place that Nimbin actually is.

And I would also like to request that if the police wish to visit our market in future, they behave respectfully like everyone else does, and ask for permission and apply for an appointment, before they come onto private property to harass a community family event, and mess with the incomes of many very beloved people.

Organisers of the Nimbin Market

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  1. Thank you for writing this wonderful letter and expressing a breath of fresh air in a toxic environment of media hype and over-policification of freedom-loving people attempting to exist on the same little blue-green ball spinning through space that everyone was born into without asking for guidance or instruction on how to live their lives. I feel great pity and compassion for those who take it upon themselves to enforce rule over others, extract payments or imprison them against their will, even worse that they excuse it because they “do it for a living”. No other species on the planet charges another to exist. We are not civilised, we are anything but. We are monsters ruled by tyrants, and the more we toe-the-line, the further we decline down the slippery slope away from becoming the brilliant beings we were born to be. Resistance is imperative.

  2. Thank you so much for leaving such a poetic, insightful, and beautiful response!! I love your perspective and way of saying it, and we’re gonna take on that phrase, cause it sung to us……resistance is imperative. Love it. And I love your overview on the human race and where we’re at as well 🙂

  3. That was a great letter Hellena. I am not very happy about it. If the plodders behaved with a bit more respect in Nimbin, they would probably get respect back from folks. This is not the first time they have descended en masse on my favourite town and behaved like savages. There is a belligerence toward Nimbin that is way out of proportion to our supposed “offences”. It has been thus for years. Indeed this is not the first heavy handed raid on the town. I was there the day they recently came in large numbers that terrorised and intimidated everyone. I personally witnessed what I would call an assault on one local man who was not resisting them, but was sitting peacefully playing a guitar at a cafe. There were a lot of them. They wouldnt let us leave tho they would not say why. after we were searched we were told we were not welcome in our own town and all were supposed to leave and not come back for the rest of the day. The drug testing van on the street trying to drug test random passing pedestrians was outrageous. If you are not in control of a vehicle they have no business testing you for substances. All right for them to behave as they see fit tho eh? 9 or ten cctv cams in the tiny main street, and years of this negative policing has left a bad taste in the mouths of many. Dont hold your breath waiting for an ethical standards duty officer to do anything about their buddies behavior tho. There were some pretty senior coppers all tripping over each other to get their faces on TV that day. They probably had their own film crew.


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