Nimbin, the Northern NSW town famous internationally for its counter culture and 1973 Aquarius Festival is coming to grips with the loss of a major tourism drawcard.
Backpackers and grey nomads from around the world have been drawn to Nimbin for decades, taking in its quirky lifestyle, markets and cafes. Many have also used it as an opportunity to buy marijuana. It’s the one place in Australia where local growers discretely sold their “grass” to tourists in the street. The local police force, mostly based 45 minutes away in Lismore, appeared relatively unconcerned.
But not anymore. The town of under 2000 people now has a police force of nine officers and they’ve put an end to the marijuana dealing overnight.
Locals say the police presence in Nimbin is overwhelming and tourism is suffering.
Janette Murphy, who’s operated a fashion store in Nimbin’s main street for 30 years says it’s like living in a police state.
“Every time there is a major bust, it impacts our town,” she says. Tourists come for some smoko or medicinal cannabis but now they’re too scared to come as they may get stopped.”
The police state claims appear to have some validity. On our visit to Nimbin to write this story, we were stopped by police and asked to give a reason for being there.
Far from being made welcome, business owner Jasmine Aquila says visitors are being harassed. She says the Nimbin business community was horrified to witness a recent police search of tourists in full view of the town’s main street.
Have you passed through Nimbin? Tell us what you thought in the comments below.
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