Mullumbimby and the near surrounds has been my home for the past thirty five years. Driving in to this tiny town for the first time in the late seventies, there were few shops of interest, a hippy bakery started up by and African American guy and a health food shop run by the local Seventh Day Adventist church community. I was hippy pioneer ready to try a new way of living.
Mullumbimby means “place before a small hill” in the Bundjalung language. The presence of Mt Chincogan rises up and around you and this small hill has become a symbol of the town. It was a central part of the Chincogan Fiesta, that was thrown every year in September until recent years. Local land owners gave permission for contestants to run through their properties to the top of the hill and then stagger back into town to claim their prize. There was also a street parade and the little town stopped for a day to come together and celebrate. This of course was followed by a massive piss up and all the local pubs did a roaring trade.
The mountain was also supposed to represent fertility and was said to be a large breast emerging from the landscape. Certain vistas reveal a woman nestled into the mountain range with Mt Chincogan representing part of her anatomy.
Whatever mythical association people make with this little mountain in this biggest little town in Australia, one thing you can say about Mullumbimby is that it rains a lot and that it is green. A subtropical landscape of abundance where you can watch the grass grow.
Driving into Mullumbimby today, its not easy to get a park and Woolworths have even set up shop. Many sophisticated folk are escaping the concrete jungle and looking for the lifestyle we were searching for thirty years ago. There is a state of the art community college teaching courses relating to sustainability. Funky coffee shops selling delicious quality food, a herbal dispensary that has become a healing centre for the entire district. Mullumbimby even has its own music festival and the best organic shops and green grocers around.
Mullumbimby is undergoing a metamorphosis, embracing technology as an e-town and growing one of the most progressive community gardens in the country. This year the Chincogan Fiesta is set to be replaced with the Living Earth Festival, a Mullumbimby Community Garden initiative. Workshops, a street parade, great healthy food and community. The seeds that were sown back in the seventies are gradually materialising as the world looks for new ways of living and communicating.
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