Nimbin: The Vision and the Reality--Edited

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SCENE

 

NIMBIN: THE VISION AND THE  

REALITY

Graeme Dunstan

 

PREAMBLE

Nimbin is powerful magic. The word has entered the language of the land; it has become a reference point in its culture; it is a word that resonates with myth. And when people speak of it either in praise or derision or whatever, the magic is speaking about them. Like a Rorshach inkspot.

Which sounds like the mystical ravings of another psyched-out Nimbin hippy. And it could be, yes, it could well be my mind is fizzy with too much dope, too many Nimbin mushrooms. I know for certain it's fizzing with many intensely beautiful, intensely primordial flashes. Like a reglimpse of a naked lady, all grace and beauty in the sun, sensuously washing in a cold clear creek; or recalling a tribe stooping and swaying in a field as they sickled and bundled grass for a shelter; of conceiving a child in a tipi; of being angry and joyful; of passionately participating.

All Nimbin mind phantoms these. Cast a word net at them and their truth melts away leaving you with yet another illusion. Nimbin's magic is like that. It robs you of your preconceptions and expectations, it agitates you and spins you dry. And it leaves you wondering. Ah yes, a sense of wonder, discovery and rediscovery in eyes shining with eager living.

So what follows is both an apology for and a statement about these words and words about Nimbin. An apology because I admit I saw only a little of the totality of it and understood, that is 'word caged', even less. And it is a statement because it is the very nature of the Nimbin experience that the unity of its personal impact and multifaceted form does not lend itself to easy, alienated reductionism.

 

 MANIFESTO

Johnny Allen is a born synenergizer. He has a natural talent for bringing people together so that the union is not the simple sum of the talents involved but something much, much more. Shortly after the Canberra Aquarius Festival he arranged a meeting of underground editors. I went and we got stoned, walked on the night beach at Dee Why and rapped about that festival and the free festivals he arranged at Ourimbah. Out of it came an idea for an Aquarius festival as a total counter cultural happening '…a prophetic vision of the world we would wish to live in.'

The ideas were printed in National U then we went our separate ways. Another stoned rave launched and life goes on…

But no, teaching is turning sour. I put in an application for the position of Arts Festival Director 1973 and when I am being informed that I am successful, it is explained that the other full time position in Aquarius (title Director of Aquarius) has been selected. His name is John Allen, do you know him?

The stoned festival rave became a stoned festival in process. "What next?' we asked each other as we sat either side of a desk in the offices of the Australian Union of Students feeling very, very isolated from our ends and the hordes of people expected to participate in it. For want of something more inspired, we named ourselves Kaptain Kulcha and Superfest and wrote a manifesto.

 

THE MAY MANIFESTO

1 That the 1973 Aquarius Festival be more than a place where there is a concentration of arts and artists. That the style of the festival, the structures and forms of the community that make up thefestival itself be an art form, The aim is for a total cultural experience through the life style of participants.

2 That the theme of the festival be survival on earth and a living affirmation that we do not need to besold our culture,

3 That the festival be organised in a fairly isolated rural setting where the participants will be relativelyfree from interactions with the surrounding established communities and where architects and the likecould develop new styles in community organisation,

4 That this experimental community be organised on a tribal basis of self sufficient (from the point ofview of catering, sleeping and perhaps performing) groups of 10-20 and that this be encouraged by pre publicity and by the structuring of the community.

5 That the catering for the festival be fundamentally a tribal concern supplemented by restaurants andfree food co-ops organised by non-profiteering food freaks. The festival organisation will ensure thesupply of bulk essentials like milk, rice, vegetables, etc. at cost.

6 That the festival community be an experience in living in harmony with the natural environment. Itwill make full use of creative technology and will not be destructive to the land. This Whole Earththeme will be emphasised by pre publicity, by organisational design (e.g. no franchises to polluters)and by seminars, demonstrations and exhibits of Whole Earth survival gear apropos the Whole Earthcatalogue.

7 That within the festival community the main emphasis be on participation rather than consumerentertainment and that the festival organisation aim at getting the people along and providing onlythe very basic ingredients e.g. fire bricks, clay and potters, and then allow the festival to take its owndirection.

8.That there be no pre arranged programme of events and instead the community will be provided withfree media (print and, hopefully, radio and video) through which interested groups could advertisethe activities they plan.

9That the festival seek to rediscover the meaning that agricultural fairs once had for country peopleand for the new groups who have moved or are contemplating moving to the country, the festivalwill provide a place and a reason for gathering, facilitate exchanges on survival techniques and give anopportunity to learn home crafts like pottery, weaving and bread making.

10 That the festival will not be about numbers but about energy created and exchanged, creativity harnessed and joy manifest.

 

 

SEEDING THE MYTH

'The festival will take place surrounded by a society saturated with advertising. The media message of mass communications whether poster, print, radio or television is in this society, consumerism. People are conditioned to it, and it is a real problem to mass publicise an event that is about participation. In fact it is dangerous to try, for people who come expecting to receive spoon fed entertainment will be disappointed and could set up bad vibes.

'For the festival to work, people must hear about it in terms of the dream. The mythology of the dream will create the mood that will facilitate the self fulfilment of the prophesies. For this reason mass publicity is being avoided. There will be posters but they will be vague and cryptic.There will be articles in the student press but they will, I hope, talk about possibilities rather than actualities. The publicity will develop naturally by word of mouth and if the dream is of any value at all, there will be no need for hard sell.

 'Five thousand seems a workable number for such a festival and proportionally that is onlyabout four hundred from each of the large campuses. Given the response we have at present the problem is going to be to play down the publicity. The hint of exclusiveness will in turn generate interest.

'For the devoted democrats you're right, there is discrimination going on. There is a natural selectionprocess proceeding. The information will find its way to those who are interested and it will not beforced upon the consciousness of those unconcerned about alternative communities. If a persondoesn't understand the dream it will pass her/him by, if the dream is understood then that person willmake it happen. So it goes.'

 

So it was written in a report to the annual council of the Australian Union of Students (February 1973) when Kaptain Kulcha and Superfest were flashing their sparkling new set of lies as they successfully connived to get a festival underwriting of$53,000. Such was the theory and all one can say in retrospect is that it worked but the end results were unpredictable. And that, I suppose, is a general statement about the festival.

As part of the word of mouth media we organised small meetings to seed the ideas. These meetings developed a style of their own. In Brisbane for example one was organised in a grand suburban house. We ate, smoked, smoked some dope, talked quietly and waited for the bulk of the participants who had heeded small notices about the university or were personally invited by the network of aquaintances. Everyone sat on the floor in a circle with candles lighting their faces.

Then the raves would begin. Raves of hope and optimism. First Superfest then Kaptain Kulcha then discussion and more ideas from the meeting. inevitably a negative voice would be heard, partly because there is always a pessimist at hand and partly because a straight diet of optimism drives someone in the group to play devil's advocate for 'reality.' (In this case it was the guy who was subsequently successful in organising the Hare Gumboot night at the festival.) Gently with such aphorisms as 'Be realistic, demand the impossible' and 'Think black and black will think for you' the positive mood would return and prevail.

The finale was the voice and music of Paul Josef. Paul is a beautiful and powerful singer and he has dramatic presence. He would choose the moment carefully, commence singing, and involve the meeting, finishing with what became the theme song of Nimbin.

 

              May the long time Sun shine upon you

 

              All love surround you

 

              And the pure light within you

 

              Guide your way Home.

 

And people would leave supercharged with joy and hope and talk to their friends positively and the ripples would go out.

Meetings, particularly for people involved in the anti-war movement and student politics, had come to have a bad taste for their sterile, alienating and introverted style. Memories of boring, short-back-and sided machine men in business suits haranguing the freaky hairy foot soldiers of the moratoriums. Yuk! This alternative style of meeting seemed to fulfil needs for openness and order, consensus and a sense of participation. And yet, hidden in the timing and flexibility was a quite ritualised structure.

Which is not to say they always worked. In Melbourne for example the network turned up a bunch of cynics. They spent the entire evening discussing all the possible catastrophes: epidemics, flood, fire and famine. A group stampede of negativism that could not be averted. And this time Paul Josef practically asphyxiated us with a demonstration of incense oil; vapourising it on burning charcoal he created billowing white clouds of the stuff. And we organisers went away depressed about festival prospects apropos Melbourne people.

Generally speaking the word of mouth media worked. For the vibe was good and good news carries well but it is equally true that bad news carries just as well on the same network.

For example there was the hassle about Nimbin being an Aboriginal sacred ground. The rumour arose in Sydney amongst city blacks and let it be known we took the matter seriously because the feel of Nimbin and its mysterious rocks was magical. The claim was made by people unaware of the layout of the festival site at Nimbin but we checked nevertheless with recommended local blacks and other authorities. We parleyed at great length in Glebe with Gerry Bostock, a Sydney living Bundjalung, which is the tribe whose territory contained the Nimbin valley. But to no avail. The rumour of the curse became the curse. It spread like a grassfire, sometimes communicated because it was a good story in the telling, sometimes because of media-tripping black politicians and sometimes as a focus for putdowns of the festival dream.

And there is a similar story in the activities of the alternative health freaks. Chris Dalton of the Alternative Health Centre was on a grand healing trip at the time and he came to Nimbin at Easter 1973 to prepare for the festival. Bravely he put up a sign offering consultations to the hordes of hippies who had gathered in town by that time.

Hippy health tends to be neglected like most things in their physical world and because of a distaste for the moralising, pill-popping medicine of the establishment and, more importantly, because of their poverty, Chris Dalton's free service was inundated. Visions of a harried Chris Dalton running down Cullen St, Nimbin, to his juice extractor crying, 'Quick, an emergency, a bladder infection!' and in his hand, a stick of celery. Chris caught his finger in the extractor and blamed variously, Aquarius, the patient and the person talking to him at the time.

In truth Chris was in his element. He was wanted and very much validated. But he took back to Sydney his own vision of Nirnbin as a health hazard, people dropping in the streets with malnutrition and disease. And that impression spread on the underground network with alarming alacrity, too.

 

GUTENBERG GIGGLERY

In terms of print, a free-floating concept of a publication was created to give news of Nimbin. Sometimes produced independently, most often it was a special edition of, or supplement to, existing publications. Each time it came out it had a different name, a different editorial crew and a different location. It was variously called The Grassroots Express, the Nimbin Examiner, Earth Rebirth Tharunka, The Nimbin Good Times, Grass Leaves, and Wonder Wombats, Sparkling Saxophone Catalogue.

It was a cooperation made possible at that time by the various editors of the student press who had a common vision about communicating the dreams of alternatives. It was a pooling of resources, some exhilarating interactions and an effective spread of festival dreams.

 Grass Leaves later became the daily (well, almost) news sheet of the festival under the general care of the loverly Heather McInnes. Printed offset on foolscap, the items and graphics were written and drawn directly onto the paper plates the people's media . And that hodge-podge of news and views, gripes and giggles is the best print approximation to the feel of the festival. Here is a selection.

Come to the world's biggest soccer match Thursday

2 p.m. oval opposite showground 100 a side also

cheerleaders umpires etc.

 

 

 

   *   *   *

 

 

Daisy's grow, but her cups and milkshake containers

 

don't so please return them to this loverly lady.

 

 

   *   *   *

 

 

ANOTHER DAY

 

and the pure theatre that is Nimbin continues. the builders speeding on…and the spirit Nimbuning.

what you need is what you get and the dunnie builders are rapping with their first satisfied customers as they work and the dunnies may even be canopied this week.

all is going according to...well, except that we haven't found the plan yet. And anyhow we only have one shower and soaping up the creek is a drag.

 

    *   *   *

 

KLEPTO INCORPORATED

 

This festival is based on LOVE and GOODWILL  and accordingly people do not lock away their possessions. BEWARE, however, of PARASITES:  One such tried to rip off a guitar, took a billy of soup, and almost succeeded in scoring a fur coat from an unsuspecting tribe last night. DESCRIPTION: long ginger-blond hair,  black thick-rimmed glasses. sparse beard, light build: wearing jeans and multi coloured shawl arrogant and obnoxious manner. Will play your guitar left handed and guts your soup with right hand.

 

    *   *   *

 

 HARE GUMBOOT

 

Hare  Gumboot

Hare Dunlop

Hare Rubber

Hare Robber

Hare Dollars

Hare Hundreds

Hare Hippies

Hare Meat Pies

Hare Counter Culture

Hare Light from Darkness

Hare North Shore Thrift Shops

for your uniforms

Hare Bad Vibes

Hare Cynicism

 

 

    *   *   *

 

 

NIMBINITES:

 

go firth andmultiplystay or andadd,but do notsubtractfrom what wehave made,or worse stilldivide.

 

    *   *   *

 

Unfortunately due to heavy fog and man-made smoke the Nimbin stars and planets have not been appearing, therefore the much talked about cosmic lift out number 2 will be replaced by a most useful guide to plotting the positions of the sun, moon and planetary bodies amongst the constellations of the zodiac. P.S. an Unidentified Flying Object was observed from the amphitheatre last night was it the famous CAPTAIN SHIT leaving for Galaxy X-29 or could it be the dreaded Astral Gumboot? Hare out and have a look.

 

Good morning to the hippies of Cullen Street You who've depressed me since the middle of April. I'd just like to congratulate you on your sterling efforts in perfecting a parasitic existence and to ask you to keep up the good work . .somewhere else. In the meantime I'd like you to know that you shit me. Thanks for cluttering up the footpaths.Thanks for looking sleazy in Daisy's. Thanks for bringing me down every time the fields had me up.

Thanks.

 Luke.

                                                    *     *     *

 

                                                    WANTED!

 

One female who wants to be involved TOTALLY with a technological madman so as to be FREE to

work in a great range of technical bullshit contact FAT JACK at video nimbin.

                                                   *      *       * 

 

Lloyd Maher is a local farmer who LOVES us. We ' hired his who rotary hoe ( ho  ho ) to dig trenches.

He LOVES loves a yarn and he loves  the land he owns on the other side of the swimming hole west of town. He DOESN'T LOVE people stealing the vegetables he has so lovingly planted. If you want them why not offer to buy them.

 

                                                   *     *      * 

Private Property Keep Out signs have been put up by Tom MClennan on the borders of his

land , which includes the swimming hole and all that from Thorburn St to the back of the town.

The purpose of em is to keep camera happy tourists is and  newspapermen away from those swimming  in the creek. So don't be hassled by the signs they refer to the general public not the Nimbinian Aquarians.  In return, please respect Tom's fences 'n don't straddle his gentle cows.

 

 

 

The festival people will not sorry to hear that Barry our charming young Courier Mail reporter, has left Nimbin with some rather disappointed comments about how well things seemed to be going. However  his mark will forever remain on the locals of Nimbin , who had their first taste of pig-media when Barry wrote his story of last Saturday. Another reporter was surreptitiously chatting up the locals in the Bowling Club, when he copped a black eye from the bartender when his true identity became known.

 

                                                    *      *      *

 

I came to Nimbin two months before the festival. It seems longer than that. I hope to stay in the area after the festival. 

 

The festival has been nice mostly. There have been some morons, but you expect morons, and you can learn from them.

 

Like the political morons who've spent the festival looking for something to be disagreeable about the ones who've tried to organise a confrontation with the police. They've been totally irrelevant, but they've made an interesting sideshow, even if they have been a little sad dening.

 

And the others who have been immersed in dogmatic stagnation. The jesus freaks and others of their ilk, hiding in the shadows of the enlightened or supposed enlightened...or supposed enlightened, hidden so deep that they themselves have no idea of their true identity, hidden so deeply that they've given up looking; and saddening, like the politicos. in the way they waste themselves.

 

But the festival has been good. I've met and watched some really marvellous people. I've participated in some moments of real happiness, and I've been lucky in catching a glimpse of the souls of some beautiful individuals and groups. 

 

So the festival had been worthwhile. I've learnt some good things and taught some good things I've been dismayed, disillusioned, and saddened, but more than that, I've been encouraged, gladdened, and reinforced. I'll leave the festival with my involvement in my lifestyle

stronger, and my determination to expand, as a real individual, a politics of personal communication sharing, and discovery heightened.

so

Love,

Luke.

 

P.S. I hope you've had as good a time as I have. I hope you can see the whole of the festival, and I

hope the bad times didn't get you down, so that the ‘nimbin good times' were a real thing.

Luke Swann

 

   *   *   *

 

              FLINDERS UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

 

If your Nimbin trip was a bad one bread-wise the S.R.C. at Flinders will be able to help you get a

loan from the University.

 

                                              *      *      *

 

             MISSING DUNNIES

The plastic seats on the dunnies in the mobile homes area have been removed, by someone, tosomewhere Lidless holes allow flies to transport shit and disease to your food. An incredibly stupid and selfish act. Information please to site office. This service is closed until seats are returned.

       

                                              *     *     * 

 

Having secured the goodwill of the residents and the backing of the Australian Union of Students(AUS), all there was to do was the doing. The task seemed so enormous because our hopes were so high. But where to start? We had no maps. We were on new ground.

 

A motley crew had assembled in Nimbin following the February meeting there. And there was a period of acclimatising both to Nimbin and to each other. Precious a philosopher of the road, came bearing tools ( that was hopeful) and incredible dope (a disaster for the unprepared). Visiting AUS bureaucrat  John Vines got on the end of some and went off on  a paranoid trip shouting and fumbling in the darkness 'all right you buggers, you got me, how long is it going to last?'. Forever John.

We did nothing  and time passed and gradually it became a realisation that no-one else was going to do it. The  resources we needed had to be found in amongst ourselves. So we started doing the little things first; Some people made musical instruments, others made huge screens and others began work on the Rainbow Cafe as a kitchen for the Aquarius festival. The first approach was to feed people as an expense of the festival for we were using workers motivated by the dream of the festival and not by money.

It is one of the truths of the festival that if we had to pay for the energy put in the cost would have been formidable. We strove to use the festival money for material resources and declined to offer performers and so on money for their appearances.

When Vernon Trewecke finished painting the first shop front, we could see our labours having effect. Before our eyes Nimbin was changing colour—literally and figuratively—so many smiles, so much music, people embracing in the street. We were stoked on our praxis. And Vi organised an 'Aquarius (Puts on its Dancin' Shoes for a) Nite Out', a super celebration of locals and Aquarians dancing in the streets.

Gradually a structure grew up within the group. Priorities for work developed, a work organisation grew. Precious became 'site foreman' and we agreed on starting times and days off. It was not without struggle for there was a psycho/religious ethic that excused one from work. It was the 'It's all just happening, man' ethic.

Our optimistic vision as organisers was that we would work like crazy and then when the festival began just retire (preferably be fired) and just let it happen. The 'it's all just happening' world view was the first awareness that it wasn't so easy. People do not see that they have effective action in the world, in complete contradiction to the world view of an organiser. 'You can change the world, you can change the world ! !' I recall ranting in an argument. I was speaking existentially but it was taken as the ravings of a would-be dictator. I was obliged to wear a small billboard 'Conquer the world with Kellog's Cornflakes' as penance. 

We took note of the advice of the Tao. 'When the best leaders' work is done the people say "We did it ourselves": We strove for an invisible structure, participation and decentralised decision-making. And to a large extent we were successful and many festival people assumed there was no core organisation at all. But there was of course and there were hassles and these speak of the nature of Nimbin...and me.

It became very important to bring the group together in rituals that allowed us to feel as a group.This also allowed us to focus on the tasks ahead of us. Each evening we would eat together at the Rainbow and after the meal, hold hands and rap. It worked well for the time the group was small less than sixty. But every day new people would come and we kept having to repeat ourselves and our unity was engulfed. Eventually it blew us out. The system was being ripped off. So many were eating that there was no space to sit but there were very few available for work gangs. So the cafe was closed and we went onto a Nimbin Bread system. One Nimbin Bread equals $1 of food from the store or one meal at the later re-opened Rainbow. 

We are, and were, all reacting against a social order that has stagnated as a result of the blocks put on creativity and flexibility by a vast super structure of interlocking institutions. These strive for the sleek facade of efficiency but behind the facade is a decaying humanity and fear. The institutional goal becomes self-preservation and with this slide from human goals, the services they profess to perform actually oppress—prisons make criminals and so on.

For us it was part of the organising task at Nimbin to find a good government to fit the task, to make the means of the festival as well as the end. But it became a burden because there is a widely held view that the alternative to bad government is not better government but no government. For people who have been smashed by the nuclear family, been losers in the competition games at school, been failures in the status games of employment and so on, social chaos is prized. Without structure  in the group no one can lay a heavy rave on 'em. It's a very basic survival trip for such very fragile  egos.

To each his own, I suppose, but such groups have a low energy level. If you want to get something going, even if it is introductions and interactions, there needs to be a mutually accepted

means, a ritual, a common ground to work on. Structure facilitates group interaction and group endeavour. And what's more structurelessness can be a tyranny in itself.

By contrast the religious groups that came to Nimbin had incredible energy. All of them, the Hares, Divine Light, Children of God, Teen Challenge had well-organised camps and energy to spare for community concerns. They had God and through their particular common belief, structure.

So organising became a burden because the structures that we had working were always under attack not because they were oppressive or counterproductive but because they existed. And this became an energy drain.

 

Similar observations applied to the concept of leadership. Leaders were always seen as threats rather than people of particular talents with which to serve the group. Some people are natural healers, priests, earth mothers and so on and some are leaders, but leadership at Nimbin was and is a role that has no support.

All this is to say that organising after the close of the Rainbow Cafe became a drain physically and

mentally. The closer we got to the festival, the more urgent our deadlines with the local authorities, the more feeble our work capabilities became. There were lots of people with ideas of how Aquarius could help them (Could Aquarius give me the money to buy a toothbrush?') but few with ideas and intent to help Aquarius. We just made it with the dream intact; Precious took to bed, Johnny lost his voice, I lost my humour. In our fatigue people would talk but the words would just go on by, our information-processing systems we re overloaded. And in our fatigue, the festival all but passed us by. But we got there with the dream intact and that's what mattered. It was a beautiful 'cumtogether', a burst of pure energy. Because when people live and share a dream, it is the reality. It was worth it for that.

Let me not diminish the efforts of the others of the valiant few who created the dream with sweat. Co l James and Bill Lucas with their friends and students handled the site building and planning.

There were the garbage collectors Doug, Boggles and crew. And gratitude too to the good people of Terania Shire. The medicos, Harry Freeman and friends, who gave free service so that the Nimbin hospital could be used. To Feedwell Foundry for baking bread. To Harpo who kept the food store functioning and our supplies rolling in . Love, love, love.

During the festival new organisers arose to handle the day to day site problems and except for the bust we were out of it. This was a fascinating time that gave cause for optimism. The site office was taken over by a labour organiser for Civil and Civic.

She was great. She commandeered the Civil Defence radios and, ignoring the formally allocated call signs, became Mother Duck to wandering Quack Quack 1, Quack Quack 2 and so on. They radioed in information about work needs and she sent out volunteers who took heed of her sign on the office door and offered themselves.

It seemed that work was possible while there was a balance between high energy people, the contributors, and the 'it's all just happening' consumers. After the festival the balance was blown because high energy people, being doers, had scenes on-going to go back to. The consumers just hang.

 

THE NIMBIN BLUES

So post-festival was a bad time. There was a rash of thefts, milking petrol tanks, ripping off petty

cash and worst of all ripping off the capital that had been raised to get the food coop going again after AUS and Harpo pulled out their support. There was no longer a centre in the community, no sense of community responsibility, of a greater good. There was a retreat and no attempt to regulate odd baddies to keep the town livable for the locals old and new. It was a retreat from community responsibility that needed the intervention of the uniformed 'cop'.

The mop-up work clearing the site of structures and the like became the soul-destroying task of three of us. It was slow and blocked by hippies squatting on the site leases, ripped on mushrooms, hiding behind the goodwill of Aquarius but ripping it off. If the community was to continue, confirmed goodwill was essential. But squatters had no such future vision. It was dirty work and dehumanising. Kicking hippy arses, I became a cop.

And I, all love, peace and freedom, thumped a guy. John the Klepto we called him for he had become notorious for his rip-offs. He always chose what was most valuable to his victim to steal or destroy. One told how he saw John taking his guitar. Tut it down', he cried, and John did, with sufficient force to break the neck.

He was notorious before he decided to rip me off and he took his time, sitting in the Aquarius office, watching and occasionally throwing things. Then he up and grabbed $20 from the donations bucket, donations to help recover the festival debt, something I felt honour bound to do. I was standing by the bucket at the time so it enraged me and I chased him, caught him and slugged him. I marched him to the copshop. He embraced me on the way and walked with his arm on my shoulder.

He did time in Grafton for the theft. There is some irony in that he came back to Nimbin on release . He was disguised by a prison haircut and the absence of some front teeth lost at Grafton. He was the prime suspect for the stealing of the food coop capital. He left town next day as crazy and self destructive as before.

I felt destroyed, lost in a dreamtime warp. From someone seeking alternatives to the oppressive order, I became an agent of that very oppression. Nimbin magic again. The dark side was in Nimbin, it was in me. The introspection was depressing. There are prisons, I began to theorise, because there are people who ought to be in prisons.

It was time to go. I was out of balance with Nimbin and the task of building the 'beginning rather than an end' community post-festival would have to be someone else's.

So the counter culture is going to build no Taj Mahals. But that is not to say the life styles of the Nimb in experiment are without value. It's just that the emphasis is different, the quality of life is measured in the richness of the community experience. There is an intensity of living there that enthralls all who live in the ongoing Nimbin for any settled length of time. There is so much happening in the community that involves so many of the new residents. There are meditation courses organised by erudite Buddhists, there are struggles with monks of fascist intent, would-be Rasputins. There are crazes for pyramid building or planting herbs by the moon. There are astrologers and acupuncturists, hoedowns in quaint country halls and musical jams on full moon nights. And there are births and there are deaths. Yes the festival goes on, a dance of changing moods, but on and on.

But I don't live there and I feel now that I never will. I live the nuclear life on the tablelands where the cold and the parade of seasons take my life and work in their cycles. Alternative communities are still a fascination but I tend to emphasise small groups with rituals and structures to give them cohesion. The value of therapeutic communities where people can work out their hangups and discover personal potentialities I acknowledge, but for me I want a community that is stable and safe, emotionally and physically, for children.

It's been a time of building up following a time of tearing down. And in time we'll be a part of another community. In time, in time. Yes, gone the impetuousness of youth culture and wiser now.

But oh, to have been there and changed.

 

 

 


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