Mardi Grass

The much anticipated Mardi Grass is upon us. Some residents were to be seen packing and fleeing throughout Friday afternoon.
Mardi Grass and similar events have a long history in Nimbin. These days it's Australia's biggest annual anti-prohibition event, with cannabis law reform campaigners from all over Oz, and speakers from around the world. We made it to the traditional opening - an aboriginal speech of welcome, then the lighting of the torch in the Peace park. The 2007 event was billed as Mardi Grass 007 - License to Mull, which unfortunately doubled the punning opportunities for all the low-down dirty local punmeisters. I won't punish you by relaying any of their efforts, dear reader.
A Saturday highlight was the arrival of the kombi konvoy into the village; A long line of (mostly) shiny, decked out kombi vans did a lap of the village before parking up en-masse at the Nimbin cattle mustering yard, while hundreds of people lined the streets of the village to cheer them on.
I then missed out on a chunk of the festivities, when I spotted that a local was flogging his old mountain bike for fifty bucks - and I've been hunting for a cheap, functional mountain bike for a while. I left the guy with a tenner, and went to raise the rest of the money. The only outdoor cashpoint in the village had a queue that looked to be taking around 70 minutes. The only other cashpoint, in the pub, was out of cash. The village store (who do cashback on debit card purchases) had overloaded their EFTPOS system and were only taking cash. By the time I sorted my life out, C had pretty much finished photographing the passing kombi konvoy, so we jammed the bike into the back of the car and headed home for a mid-afternoon snooze.

Any self-respecting festival has at least one "fringe" event, and in the Mardi Grass's case it's the "Open Mind Freedom Festival" or Doof, as Aussies cheerfully refer to most events featuring the sort of outdoor music discriminated against under the UK's criminal justice act. Having been let down by our contact who'd promise to ring and let us "know what's up" we set out Northwards, suspecting that finding a large, amped up trance festival with accompanying light-show and bus-loads of young revellers should not be too hard in the otherwise peaceful forests. Sure enough, a steady stream of cars led the way, and soon we were parked up on the roadside and trekking over a hill (well, two) to the site of the doof.
The whole site was outdoors, in a freshly mowed grassy area in the middle of mixed forest. The DJ booth was a specially modified kombi van, the atmosphere was chilled and happy, and the beats were mostly to my taste - often with a fairly hard "psy" edge, but mostly managing to maintain a housey/dubby feel nevertheless, which was in keeping with both mood and occasion. I have to confess that (for reasons I feel no need to explain) being somewhat more reliant on adrenaline and stamina than is my usual wont, I keeled over at around 2:30, and then drove home after an enjoyable spell on my back in the chai tent watching the pretty lights light up the treetops and the clouds scud across the moon.
Sunday at Mardi Grass is anti-prohibition parade day - the parade is led off by local guys from the Bundjalung nation, and their kids with banners. Next came the Ganja Faeries, the Plantem (Nimbin's own prohibition-busting superhero), the big joint (which spends much of its time outside parliament in Canberra reminding politicians of the idiocy of prohibition), and an array of interesting contestants in the "best costume" contest. We foiled our own cunning plan to take another afternoon rest quite comprehensively. We had thought to turn a bit of a profit from the weekend by renting out rooms (there always seems to be more demand than supply over the long weekend) but we didnt' get any calls about our adverts on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, so we'd forgotten all about it. Then, on Sunday early evening three people phone up, needing a place to stay. We rush around frantically tidying up. They call back - they're lost. Then (presumably falling victim to the complete lack of mobile phone coverage beyond the village centre) they go incommunicado. I kick myself for not following my initial instinct to tell them to wait by the pub for me to pick them up.
Most locals are back to work in the morning, and Nimbin looks remarkably tidy and "put back together again". I'm in the fortunate position of working over the border in Queensland, where the first Monday in May is a bank holiday - but I must be getting too old for the partying, because even a day and a half is not feeling like enough recovery time as I type this.
Apologies if this entry is less coherent than usual. Maybe a gallery of Mardi Grass Photos will make up for it. Peace out. And stuff.

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