Nimbin, NSW, Australia.
Nimbin - marihuana capital of Australia. Where marihuana plantations thrive, policemen turn a blind eye to the sale and the taking of drugs, and the lifestyle promoted is 'alternate.'
These days, it is a tourist mecca. On the Sunday that we visited, it was difficult to find a place to park. Most of the vehicles were 4WDs, maybe belonging to the wandering tourists, maybe belonging to locals. Oddly, for all the vehicles, the streets were not crowded, so I don't know where the people were. Church? I hardly think so.
We didn't stay long. Not only that the drive to the place proved hazardous - the roads were narrow and winding and some of the drivers appeared unwilling or unable to keep to their own lane. Driving under the influence? Maybe. Or maybe just that they don't care about safe driving - habitual use of drugs would have that effect.
The town - colourful? It was that, and there was evidence of creativity, but not actually of much quality. The impression was more of tawdry decay. A house/shop, for instance, that showed that it had once been painted, but maybe fifty years ago - pre-hippy era. The timber around the windows showed the dark wetness of rot.
Men with dread-locks, a boy of around ten openly trying to break into a gumball machine, either for the money or the gumballs, and some people who looked old, old, old, and yet not. They were upright, but with ancient, discontented, raddled faces. In their sixties would be my guess, but their faces looked eighty. Did they maybe arrive when they were young, and live in some shack without comforts? Maybe they were trying to 'live the simple life,' and whenever they felt the cold, they took another trip on whatever drug was handy. However they spent their life, it appears that it might not have been good for their health.
There were numerous shops with displays of tourist goods. They were far from cheap, though some were quite interesting, unusual things. But I turned from any thought of leaving money in that town when I saw something that looked like a glue stick. It said something like - 'Discreet. Get high and no-one will know. You can sniff in front of your parents and they won't know.' I have seldom seen such an utterly unethical and irresponsible product aimed at children.
I would have left then, but my companion was not yet ready to leave. The next thing to offend me was a display of tee-shirts. Some were vulgur, more so than any I'd seen before, (and I've seen some pretty awful ones.) and others illustrated someone sniffing up a line of powder - cocaine maybe. Despicable.
And so we left. So much for Nimbin.
A few days after I wrote this post, the Nimbin museum and a house or two burnt down.
I promise it wasn't me.