David and Lili's World Tour


April 2014 - Byron Bay, Nimbin, and the outback near Darwin

G'day! We decided to make a trip around the world with no airplanes, then we decided that was too hard, so we flew to Australia. (Our revised objective is to get to Europe overland from Timor Leste, and then travel further...) Unfortunately for travellers, Australia is extremely expensive (perhaps the world's most expensive country) so we only stayed two weeks. Furthermore, Australia's pakeha culture is similar to New Zealand's, and therefore not particularly interesting. Australia's aboriginal culture is another story...

First we flew to Brisbane in order to visit nearby Byron Bay, because we have heard that this is Ozzie's coolest little beach town, and we were seriously ready for a cool little beach town after all the craziness required to get ready for an open-ended world tour. Cool as it is, Byron Bay is overpriced and loaded with young alcohol partiers, not our scene, The interesting and unexpected thing we discovered was the nearby town of Nimbin.

Even though we had never heard of Nimbin, the small town is world famous because of its political activism in support of environmental protection and the legalization of marijuana. It is a village populated by old hippies, many of whom used to live in Byron before it got too expensive. Nimbin is unique, and we were happy to visit.

I am originally from Colorado, one of the first places in the world to legalize weed (along with Uruguay and North Korea), and the news is all good. In Colorado, tax revenues are up and crime is down. The fear-mongers have been proven wrong. The Global Commission on Drug Policy has called on the world to stop the war on drugs (PDF), noting that Portugal has decriminalized all drugs, with positive results in terms of crime. The happy hippies of Nimbin are not alone.

In Darwin we hired a campervan to tour the outback. We were hoping to interact with the aborigines (the Nimbin free newspaper calls them "originies") but unfortunately this was impossible without a serious investment of time and money. A former tour giude from Kakadu National Park explained it like this: "The originies in cities like Darwin have been expelled from their tribes, and they are almost all alcoholics. They will never look you in the eyes. They are lost. The good news is that the ancient culture is alive and well in places like Arnheim Land, but these people want nothing to do with tourists and anthropoligists."

Anyway, we were happy to see some of the legendary outback. One highlight was swimming in a croc-free river, because it was friggin' hot! Another highlight was the profound sense of freedom one gets when embarking on a world tour, living out of a backpack, with no fixed schedule. David and Lili are back on the road!

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