A Melbourne doctor and a restaurateur have purchased the fire-charred site that once housed the Nimbin Museum and associated shops.
Dr Simon Rose and his business partner David Piesse spent $500,000 to acquire the land from Sydney businessman Richard Andary.
Dr Rose, a drug and alcohol specialist, told Echonetdaily that both partners wanted the Nimbin community fully involved in the development of the site.
‘We are very flexible in our thoughts and we are wanting to do something that works for the community and the owners of the adjacent land (which housed the Rainbow Café)’, Dr Rose said.
‘In stage one we are hoping to replace the shops at the front and maybe add a couple down the side of the walkway.
‘We will be putting out expressions of interest regarding the types of shops and we are hoping to get lots of local input into what goes on from here.’
Dr Rose said the first stage of the redevelopment was likely to cost around $750,000.
‘In stage two we are hoping to join with the Tuntable Falls community (owners of the Rainbow Café site) to create a communal market space with affordable stalls,’ he said.
At the rear of the shops, the new owners are hoping to establish an Indigenous garden, along with an entertainment area with tables and chairs.
‘Along the walkway we’d like to have things that echo the history of Nimbin that was lost in the Nimbin museum,’ Dr Rose said.
‘We’d like to see poles which have things that echo Nimbin and the history of the town, that somehow connects the new development with the past.
‘The façade along the front has to blend in. It has to be Nimbin.’
Dr Rose told Echonetdaily that he would be meeting with a representative of the Tuntable Falls community to discuss a joint venture.
‘They have an architect here in Melbourne and we’re going to talk about a joint vision and the direction we are going in,’ he said.
Dr Rose said he and Mr Piesse were hoping to have an overall plan developed by the end of February, ‘depending on how it goes with Tuntable Falls’.
He said the third stage of their redevelopment plans would involve providing some backpacker accommodation on the site.
‘It all depends on the (Lismore City) council but we’re very comfortable with doing it slowly,’ he said.
Dr Rose is no stranger to northern rivers region.
He has a ‘hobby farm’ at Mullumbimby and purchased the store at Federal a few years ago, which is being run by his daughter.
He has also organised the World Stoned Chess Championship in recent years at the annual Mardi Grass gathering, winning the title two years ago.
He is also no stranger to dealing with drug and alcohol issues, having set up Victoria’s first heroin clinic.
It was at a drug and alcohol conference in New South Wales in 2004 that he met Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone, the founder of the original Nimbin Museum, and other Nimbin identities.
‘I may be a doctor but I’m also a major hippy and I want to do the right thing by Nimbin,’ he said.
His business partner David Piesse, who has a history of running restaurants in Melbourne, also has strong ties to the area.
Mr Piesse set up the Mullumbimby Farmers Market, and also operates the restaurant at the Byron Bay Bowls Club.