NCC Events

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Rainbow Road can work.  It is feasible because:

  • It is different and authentic – providing what target markets are seeking;
  • It builds on and links with existing attractions;
  • The village of Nimbin averages between 500 and 550 visitors per day and more than 60% would take the walk and extend their length of stay;
  • It will add value to tourism experiences in the Northern Rivers Region;
  • It has full community support and provides community amenity and facilities;
  • It provides a safe and accessible path for young players and spectators to get to and from games and training (easy access from the main street and back);
  • It promotes sport and health to locals and visitors;
  • It has landowner support;
  • It will create employment and attract investment;
  • It will capitalize on emerging e-growth industries;
  • There is early developer and business interest and curiosity;
  • It links with the zeitgeist of the times – global social and environmental consciousness.

Rainbow Road is a truly innovative experience based on strong natural, cultural and heritage values. It has the capacity to meet the needs of the Nimbin community as well as the expectations of Nimbin’s current and future visitors.   It also has the capacity to deliver on-going long term employment, investment and income streams to ensure sustainability.

It will cost $700,000 to complete the first stage, including art installations, and will cover a constructed path of approximately 800mIt could generate an extra seven million dollars each year by encouraging 20% of current visitors to stay one more night.   There are bold challenges and chances that need to be taken to deliver on its potential. It requires commitment from three levels of government as well as from community and private investors. Nimbin has proven product appeal and existing markets that require coordination and development.

The potential of the walk to achieve its aim of extending visitor expenditure and length of stay is evident. The Nimbin Community Centre is prepared to take ownership of the project provided maintenance responsibilities can be met.

The Nimbin Walking Track Scoping Study (2007) recommended that feasibility be undertaken to involve stakeholder consultation, development of a track purpose and route; costs and an action plan for the building of the track.

Rainbow Road Feasibility Study (2013) outlines the processes taken to get community and landowner agreement and how the route of the track was agreed upon. To overcome landowner concerns the route was subsequently changed to more directly follow a legally designated right of way in favour of Lismore City Council. The 2013 Study examines existing and potential markets, attractions and experiences that will be linked by the walking track.  It provides design concepts and costs for implementation of the project.



  1. Introduction
    • Background
    • What has been considered in the feasibility
    • How experiences have been developed


  1. Nimbin

2.1 Overview of Nimbin, its history and its importance to the region

2.2 Current Markets and their needs

2.3 Future markets and opportunities

2.4 Locals and their needs

2.5 Community input


  1. The Rainbow Road Experience

3.1 Themes of the walking experience

3.2 Existing attractions

3.3 Attractions and experiences to be created

3.4 Links to other attractions


  1. The Route of Rainbow Road including maps

4.1 Objectives of Rainbow Road

4.2 Stages of the physical walking experience


  1. Physical issues

5.1 Statement of Environmental Effects

5.1 Surveying

5.3 Landscaping

5.4 Engineering

5.5 Signage

5.6 Maintenance


  1. Legal, Risk & Crime Prevention Issues
    • Risk and risk assessment

5.2 Crime Prevention and meeting CPTED principles


  1. Costing and Governance

7.1 Costs for implementation of stage one

7.2 Governance and co-ordination


  1. Appendices – none listed



  1. Introduction
  • Background


Almost fifteen years ago a group of Nimbin residents approached Lismore City Council’s Economic Development Unit and put forward an idea for a walking track around the village of Nimbin that would showcase the village culture, icons and surrounding features. Funding was sought from NSW Industry and Investment to prepare a Scoping Plan (Nimbin Walking Track Scoping Plan May 2007), which recommended that the project proceed to feasibility.  Early consultation indicated that the walk had the capacity to increase both national and international tourism. The proposed track had the potential to attract the ‘green’ tourist due to its environmental attributes and existing attractions.


The Scoping Study stated “the walk has the specific, measurable goal of addressing a well-identified and statistically validated issue:  the length of stay for current tourism visitors is too short” (P3).  Further consultation, getting agreement on the purpose and route of the track, and an action plan for project implementation were recommendations of the Scoping Study. 


Funding from Lismore City Council, NSW Industry and Investment and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism TQAL program has enabled this project to proceed to this stage. Funds have also been contributed by Nimbin Community Centre Inc. and Nimbin Chamber of Commerce Inc.


1.2 What has been considered in the feasibility?


In developing the feasibility the project team has considered the following:


  • Visitor experiences: Using existing attractions and developing further experiences in line with what visitors are seeking. Surveys conducted as part of The Rainbow Road Feasibility Study and previously for Lismore Tourism reveal that visitors are fascinated by Nimbin and its reputation, and want to see evidence of alternative lifestyles, rainforests and off-beat hippie philosophies.  They want to see experiences that reinforce Nimbin’s position as an alternative lifestyle leader and they want to walk.
  • Sustainability: Experiences that are environmentally, socially, culturally and financially sustainable and that will educate visitors and locals about sustainability have been major considerations in developing product concepts for inclusion on Rainbow Road. Design and landscape architecture have been influenced by all sustainable principles. This is important to the local population, and links with visitor expectations.
  • Community Benefit: It is recognised that tourism is an important industry for Nimbin.  It provides social, environmental and economic benefits to the community.  The development of experiences that will result in increased yield and length of stay will improve employment, income levels and investment in community assets.  The project team has ensured that features have been consistent with the community’s desire to retain lifestyle, community character and sense of place.  Community project fund raising is a focal point of the development of income streams.  Strong community pride – which leads to community wellbeing – is evident in the willingness of groups to take care of parts of the walk. The walk also provides a fitness avenue for the community.
  • Authentic experiences: Strong community input to ideas for features of the walking track has ensured that experiences are authentic and in line with how locals see their village. Visitors indicate they want authentic alternative experiences.  Visitors also would like authentic indigenous experiences:  It has been difficult to engage with Nimbin’s indigenous people on an on-going basis.  Early consultation and anecdotal information shows an interest in being kept informed and an openness to creating links. 
  • Quality: Materials used for the track, visitor experiences, installations and merchandise are high quality and are congruent with what Nimbin is: off -beat and different.  Rainbow Road project team members have delivered designs that are world class.



1.3 How experiences have been developed

Nimbin’s history, culture and existing attractions were taken into account in developing early concepts and ideas.  Research and one on one consultation provided the background information for Creative Director Ross Wallace to create visual stimulation for a workshop held on 11th August 2012.


A VISION was set and three themes were put forward:

The vision:  To build a world class walking experience that will inspire, educate and give practical displays on sustainability, creativity and the alternative ways of life that make Nimbin.

Three themes were agreed on:

  • indigenous pre-history and legends;
  • hippies, Aquarius and pyschedelia;
  • the future and sustainability

Additional themes were added later following further community input: ‘early white settlement:  cedar getters and farmers’ and ‘sport and fitness’.

There was a strong desire to take every opportunity to promote and educate visitors on sustainability and living in harmony with our environment – thereby ensuring that experiences truly reflect what Nimbin stands for.

The small businesses in Cullen Street and surrounds demonstrated unanimous support for Rainbow Road based on the following:

  • They are constantly asked by visitors for other things to do. They know visitors are fascinated by Nimbin and are looking for reasons to stay here longer and a product like Rainbow Road will achieve this; and
  • Increased length of stay means increased expenditure, leading to business viability and employment creation.
  • They see benefits in being involved in future promotions linked to Rainbow Road.


Liaison with and presentations to community groups has enabled and facilitated input from diverse sectors.  Sports groups, the Nimbin High School, the Community School, the Nimbin Garden Club, the Nimbin School of Arts, the Nimbin Artists Gallery, the Nimbin Neighborhood Centre and the Nimbin Community Centre have indicated a willingness to consider custodianship of parts of Rainbow Road.  


Knowing the interests and needs of visitors and locals has given clear direction for the design of a high quality ‘immersive’ walking experience that will deliver on the vision. A tourism survey undertaken by Lismore Visitor Information Centre in conjunction with Southern Cross University in 2008 provided valuable feedback on what visitors wanted (ARTRC – Outcomes of the Nimbin Visitor Survey 2008) and gave direction for the type of product and experiences that would attract and retain visitation.  


Further surveys carried out in January and February 2013 and January 2018 have provided information on the experiences visitors are seeking and how visitors research and source information to influence their decision in taking a trip to Nimbin.  



Three further community consultation sessions were held during the project’s development.  Follow up consultations with business owners, community members, community groups, schools, landowners and indigenous representatives have been undertaken regularly. Feedback avenues were provided via an email link and a web page linked to the Nimbin Community Centre.









Natural inks with developing projects – particularly Seven on Sibley Sustainability Hub – have been explored to ensure maximum integration of the project with Rainbow Trail.  

Community consultation undertaken for the development of Seven on Sibley has been cognizant of the links with Rainbow Trail and the opportunities to capture the interest of visitors and promote sustainability.

Plans and concepts have been refined and re-presented to landowners and stakeholders to maintain full communication and support.

Changes have been made during the consultations, and alternatives have been found.  Stakeholders are aware of the benefits and challenges of the project and have given on-going support, feedback and input to ideas.


  1. Nimbin


       2.1 Overview of Nimbin, its history and its importance to the region

Nimbin is a regional icon.  It is situated in stunningly beautiful surrounds.  It is close to creeks, waterfalls, rolling hills, abundant wildlife and spectacular views.   It is close to World Heritage National Parks. 










It has attracted a population of people who embrace and promote sustainable, low impact and renewable ways of living: people who think outside of - and challenge - the current economic system. 


Groups of enterprising people bought land co-operatively and formed communities and started Australia’s ‘commune’ movement in 1973.  There are well over a hundred communities in and around Nimbin, ranging from those with two or three shares to those with hundreds of shares.  Some communes have their own schools and shops; many grow their own food, have built their own houses and use energy from natural systems such as the sun, wind and water. 


Rainbow Power Company – Australia’s first alternative energy business is a local initiative that now sells and consults on a range of alternative energy solutions nationally and internationally.  Djanbung Gardens International Permaculture Hamlet attracts national and international students.  Nimbin Permaculture professionals sell their expertise and skills to developing countries.  

Alternative modalities such as psychedelic experiences, meditation, massage, and yoga had their genesis in Nimbin and spread throughout the region and Australia.  Alternative life is evident on the streets of Nimbin.


Nimbin has a high level of community owned buildings including the former Central School site in the heart of the village, which houses many community groups.  These include Nimbin Aged Care, Nimbin Family Day Care, the Indigenous Cultural Centre and NimFM – the community radio station.  The Nimbin community raised $140,000 over 2 years to purchase the former Central School site, and 2 acres of land they later deeded to Lismore Council, to ensure these assets remained in community hands (1997 – 1999). They subsequently raised a further $210,000 to take full ownership of the site. Nimbin Community Centre also raised $250,000 six years ago to purchase Birth & Beyond, a double shopfront in the centre of the village that has served as a hub for community activity since early settlement. More recently the community raised $140,000 to purchase Seven on Sibley – a house on the edge of the village near the Nimbin Skate Park which will become a working Sustainability Hub and will be a feature of Rainbow Road. Such initiatives are a testament to the strong Nimbin community spirit and determination to continue to promote gentle and sustainable ways of living. 


Nimbin is a collection point for artists – both visual and performance.  The tri-annual Blue Moon Cabarets are legendary and bring together major regional and local performance artists. Two visual arts festivals:  the Spring Arts and Autumn Arts Exhibition reveal the sophistication of Nimbin’s eclectic arts community.  Exhibitions attract visitors from throughout the region and beyond.  International visitors are blown away by the quality and skills of Nimbin artists, including Aboriginal artists.  Works go to art lovers all over the world.  The annual Nimbin Roots Festival, now entering its third year, has proved extremely popular with visitations doubling between years one and two. In 2017 the event attracted in excess of 2,000 ticket holders, 98% of whom purchased tickets from outside of Nimbin.  A high spending crowd came from far and wide and the event attracted front page international publicity in The Guardian.


Nimbin is known for its tolerance of marijuana and mind altering drugs. The annual Mardi Grass celebrates all things ‘pot’ and gets national and international press.  The green medals of the Hemp Olympix, the comedy and poetry, visual and performance art, forums, displays and conferences keep people fascinated, amused and intrigued.  Around seven thousand people converge on Nimbin for the Mardi Grass for 3 days every May. Nimbin Hemp Embassy has also been at the forefront of campaigns to legalise marijuana for medical purposes and holds quarterly, well-attended Medican medical forums. Attracting anywhere from fifty to two hundred people from all over Australia, Medican workshops have established themselves as an emerging and rapidly developing tourism market for the village. The 2018 survey indicated that 8% of visitors came specifically because of an interest in medical cannabis.


The 40th Anniversary of Aquarius in 2013 attracted thousands of people from all over Australia and overseas (notably the USA).  The success of the anniversary – with its Masked Ball, 40 years of folk, a conference run by Southern Cross University and classical music sessions illustrated the appeal of Nimbin to a wide demographic. Documentaries featured on ABC and SBS and wide national press coverage are indicative of the interest that Nimbin attracts. Plans are currently underway for a major 45th anniversary celebration which will again highlight Nimbin’s Sister Village relationship with Woodstock, US home to the famous 1969 counter cultural music festival.










2.2 Current Markets and their needs:


The January 2018 survey identified that visitors to Nimbin currently come from three dominant areas:

  • International backpackers – predominantly from Europe (31%)
  • Regional and South East Queensland (26%)
  • Interstate excluding SE Queensland (33%)


Anecdotally the Asian market visitation has increased but this was not reflected in the 2018 survey results.


The Nimbin Visitor Centre has very conservatively measured Nimbin’s visitation, as recently as 2017, at 180,000 – 200,000 per annum.  During January 2018 a visitor survey (273 returns) was undertaken as a follow up to the 2013 survey to further examine existing markets, their interests, their motivations for visiting Nimbin and their use of technology in planning, booking and exploring Nimbin.   


Qualitative information again confirms that visitors would stay longer if there were more activities and if the buses stayed longer. Visitors loved the people, the atmosphere, the shops, the local cafes and the village being different from anywhere else they have been. There is a very high level of visitor satisfaction. In 2018 67% of people were ‘very satisfied’ and 25% ‘somewhat satisfied’ while 94% would be very likely or somewhat likely to recommend visiting Nimbin to others.


In 2013 over 60% of visitors received recommendations via word of mouth. In 2018 only 36%, of a much bigger survey sample, identified conversations with a friend as a motivator for visiting while 30% were returning visitors. In 2013 15% of respondents indicated on-line sources (Facebook, Twitter or blogs) as a motivation for visiting. Surprisingly, given the increased use of communication technology, in 2018 less than 6% of survey respondents attributed their reason for visiting to social media.

In 2008 22% of people stayed more than 4 hours.  In 2018 this figure increased to 37%. In 2013 42% of visitors stayed longer than four hours but this is skewed by the high number of survey returns from backpacker accommodation (61%). Comparisons between all surveys show a marked increase in length of stay.



Visiting local shops remains the major activity for people visiting Nimbin. Arriving in a one-street village with no obvious additional attractions, this is not surprising. 57% of respondents also visited eating establishments. Some visitors had ventured beyond the main street to the Candle Factory (15%), the Bush Theatre (7%) and Rainbow Power Company (11%). Only 7% had been bushwalking but the weather during the survey period was seasonally very warm.







The 2018 survey was run in early January, a tourist high season.

Rainbow Road would extend length of stay.  It provides what current visitors are seeking.

Forty percent of current visitors staying 2 more hours and spending $20 is worth $1.60 million dollars and fifteen jobs.  Staying overnight is worth close to $15 million.

Visitor satisfaction is very high with the beautiful environment a key motivation for visiting. 66% of visitors are interested in bushwalking and 84% would be likely to walk Rainbow Road.













In order of preference visitors are interested in: bushwalking, sustainable living demonstrations, wildlife information, medical cannabis, renewable energy, food security, artists in residence, community living, and permaculture.


2.3 Future markets and opportunities

There is an opportunity to work with bus companies to develop experience packages that involve an overnight stay in Nimbin.  If just 20% of existing visitors stay one more night (40,000 people: 109 per week, 15 per day) there is $7.5m annual economic benefit.


Nimbin’s many websites receive thousands of visitors every week.  With current visitation, the development of innovative experiences to extend current length of stay, e.g. Nimbin Roots Festival and the Medican workshops, coupled with use of technology for marketing, opens up opportunities to extend the current markets and to reach new markets, particularly the South East Asian market. Rainbow Road would also complement the Nimbin Soundtrail, an immersive audio experience of place and community developed by Lismore & Nimbin Tourism, featuring 18 story sites throughout Nimbin village.  Eleven months after its launch the Soundtrail app had been downloaded 960 times and the Nimbin webpage had received 570 hits. In the 2018 survey surprisingly few visitors had downloaded the Soundtrail app suggesting it may need wider promotion.


Rainbow Road could be packaged with other leading environmental and cultural experiences currently being developed in the Northern Rivers Region.  It complements Australia’s Green Cauldron Project, which covers from the Gold Coast to Beaudesert to Kyogle to Lismore, Nimbin and Bryon Bay.  Australia’s Green Cauldron is one of Australia’s National Landscape Projects – which aims to integrate tourism destination development with environmental conservation to create reasons for the target market to visit.


‘Alternative Lifestyles’ is one of the ‘stories’ identified in Australian’s Green Cauldron Project. Rainbow Road can deliver this story to the markets targeted by Australia’s Green Cauldron. This market is the ‘International Experience Seeker’ who takes an active interest in how others live their lives, who seeks involvement in experiences rather than observing them, who looks for something different, who seeks authentic experiences to talk about and who wants to see a variety of experiences.  Rainbow Road will provide practical and immersive experiences in line with Nimbin’s ethos and the global environmental awareness.

2.4 Locals and their needs


Community consultation – both formal and informal, reveals unanimous support for the project. Safety, quality, maintenance, sustainability and good design are important values for locals. 


Nimbin has a high VFR (visiting friends and relatives) market.  Locals want to ‘show off’ Nimbin’s attributes to their friends and visitors. 


Concepts put forward during planning sessions have been welcomed by the community.  Early themes have given direction for continued input.  At the outset it was obvious that locals want to walk Rainbow Road themselves:  with their children, their visitors and their dogs.  Nimbin currently does not have a walking precinct where residents feel safe – the roads leading into and out of Nimbin are narrow and do not have footpaths, and car traffic is heavy.   Apart from providing a tourist attraction Rainbow Road will provide safe transit from the local soccer fields to the village for the two hundred members, mainly children, parents and visitors who attend training and home games. It will also provide a safe walking track from the village to the local Showgrounds which house the well-patronised local gym and provide a dog exercise area and camping ground. Early every morning local fitness fanatics and dog lovers can be seen striding along local roads in this vicinity. Rainbow Road will provide a safe trail and the stairs up and down will contribute to local fitness.


Issues put forward at workshops that could impact on locals were traffic, parking and accommodation capacity if many more people stay overnight. Discussion points were:

  • Visitors are here already – we want them to stay longer so there won’t be extra parking or traffic impacts
  • Accommodation is rarely fully booked out (only at Mardi-Grass and Christmas)
  • Increase in overnight stays gives local businesses a boost
  • It could give capacity for existing and new accommodation businesses to develop and grow


Locals are cognizant that Rainbow Road began as a tourism project and they want to ensure that visitors have a balanced and positive experience of Nimbin.  Locals also want something they can use, enjoy and be proud of. Showcasing the altruistic vision of Aquarius and living in harmony with the earth are important Nimbin values.  Showcasing these values in innovative ways gives opportunities for the community to work together and promote these values to a very wide audience.


Businesses see the benefit in keeping existing visitors in the village – not only for the economic benefits but also for the social benefits of being able to sustain and create employment.  In a survey conducted early in 2017 by the Nimbin Chamber of Commerce, of the 41 respondents (mostly main street small businesses), 22% identified their business as being 100% reliant on tourism. A further 24% considered their business to be over 50% reliant on tourism while 73% of respondents considered their business would benefit from an increased visitor length of stay.



2.5 Community input

There has been extensive input at all levels of planning and consultation sessions have been well attended.  The Nimbin community is united in its desire to educate and promote sustainability. Community organisations such as the Nimbin School of Arts, the Nimbin Environment Centre, the Nimbin Garden Club, the Nimbin Community School, the Nimbin Soccer Club and the Nimbin Hemp Embassy are interested in having input into and ownership of parts of the walking experience.


  1. The Rainbow Road Experience


3.1 Themes of the walking experience


  1. Indigenous culture, language and legends: Both domestic and in-bound visitors are interested in Aboriginal culture.  Nimbin has a long history of embracing and respecting local Aboriginal lore and culture. Early consultation with Wijabul Elder Uncle Cec Roberts indicates support and interest in a walk to the iconic Nimbin Rocks.  Widjabul Elder and highly respected indigenous arts professional Rhoda Roberts has been briefed on the project and will advise on the presentation of Aboriginal stories.
  2. Early settler history: This theme is important to the community.  Nimbin has a broad history:  from the Cedar getters to banana farmers to dairy farmers to hippies. Sculpture, seating made from cedar were put forward as interesting ways to tell this part of the story. Specific sculpture and landscape features will have QR  readers’ whereby visitors can scan their mobile device  to learn more;
  3. Pyschedelia and Aquarius: this theme encompasses the hippy era, communes, alternative lifestyles and the drug culture. It was decided it was important to acknowledge the importance of cannabis and Mardi Grass as a part of Nimbin’s culture – and to find amusing ways to tell the stories without promoting the use of drugs. Rainbows, activism, solar power, self sufficiency, performance and visual arts were seen as important parts of this theme.  Activism was put forward as particularly important, with the fight to save the trees in Terania Creek and Nightcap National Park being the first successful blockade in Australia;  
  4. Sustainability into the future: Educating both visitors and locals on ways to live lightly on the planet is a priority for Nimbin residents.  Sustainability underpins all attractions…..arts, landscaping and the built environment.  Making use of developing technology, linking technology to landscape, developing a mobile platform to reach global audiences can provide economic sustainability.
  5. Sport and fitness: Making a safe and accessible path for young players and spectators to get to and from games and training, (easy access from the main street and back) while promoting sport and health to locals and visitors.


3.2 Existing attractions:

There are existing attractions that deliver Nimbin experiences which will be linked by pathways, signage, and landscaping;

  • Nimbin murals: Nimbin’s colourful murals tell stories about Nimbin’s history – from the colourful early settler images on the Nimbin Hotel to the recent 40th Anniversary of the Aquarius Festival.  Two new murals appeared to celebrate 40 years of Aquarian Nimbin: ( painted by the original Aquarius artist Vernon Treweeke. Sadly now deceased Vernon was known as Australia’s father of psychedelic art.  The Nimbin Chamber of Commerce has taken ownership of the Murals Restoration Project and has completed a strategic plan which has broad community ownership: (  The murals have become an attraction in their own right, and their colour and character offer a range of marketing and income generation opportunities.
  • Nimbin street scene: Nimbin’s street scene is a kaleidoscope of colourful shops, street characters, music, dance, high art, entertainment, street art, activism, tarot readers, healers and environmentalists. The small businesses along the street are unique:  local organic grocery shops, locally made clothing shops, Eastern and Asian style home ware and tourist shops, cafes and street food outlets, bookstores, an apothecary, natural herb and herbalists, spiritual healers and a range of alternative therapists. Following the loss of several iconic buildings in Nimbin following a fire in August 2014 the main street will be revived with a newly built Rainbow Café and a redevelopment of the former museum site into shops, market stalls and cafes.
  • Rainbow Power Company: Rainbow Power Company (RPC) is a solar energy leader in Australia. It is an unlisted public company, incorporated in 1987 which designs, manufactures, sells and installs renewable energy equipment based on solar, wind and hydro energy sources. RPC is renowned for its strong business ethics: its vision is to turn the tide from environmental destruction to environmental harmony.   RPC has been a major protagonist of the increased use of energy both in Australia and overseas.  The company’s strong commitment to demonstration and innovation in solar energy leads to many thousands of annual visitors. RPC has expressed support for Rainbow Road, and is open to develop solar / alternative energy installations that would form a major attraction on the Rainbow Road Experience. (
  • Djanbung Gardens International Permaculture School: Djanbung Gardens is a purpose designed living ‘learnscape’ of Permaculture in practice ( attracting both domestic and international students. The School has been designed on 5 acres & contains Permaculture demonstration sites and showcases thousands of species and micro-climates. It is currently open for guided walks every Saturday, and allows self guided tours three times per week.
  • Jarlanbah Permaculture Community Private Walk: - This walk will add a further 2 kms of bush and creek walks with abundant birds and wildlife.  Jarlanbah Community members are passionate about and protective of this very special walk. They are open to developing pre-booked and guided tours that could be managed by Djanbung Gardens to enhance the Rainbow Road experience.









  • Nimbin Arts Scene: Nimbin has a thriving arts scene.  The Nimbin Artists Gallery exhibits world-class arts and crafts including ceramics, sculpture, high fashion and jewelry made by the highly skilled locals; the 2017 Spring Arts Fair attracted nearly 5,000 visitors over 10 days.  Strong artist input has created a sophisticated and eclectic gallery and a committed artists’ collective.








3.3 Attractions and experiences to be created:

  • Pathways: A system of pathways and stairways, following a designated legal right of way, with intermediate landings to suit the existing slope – a pedestrian hierarchical system – originating at the rear of the School of Arts Building (Nimbin Town Hall) in the middle of Cullen Street and flowing down to the amphitheatre and the creek area, just 30 metres from the main street. It will meander across the creek, alongside the Nimbin Headers’ Soccer fields where it will diverge. Option one will traverse the creek to Rainbow Power Company and Alternative Way following the legally designated right of way. As agreed by Nimbin Headers’ Soccer Club, option two will traverse the perimeter of the Headers’ fields through to Cecil Street, to give access to Djanbung Gardens and Jarlanbah Permaculture hamlet in one direction and an alternative route back to the village from the other direction. Pathways will be primarily concrete with innovative, coloured finishes.


  • Seven on Sibley (Sustainability Hub): in development Nimbin Sustainable House project involves the entire community ( Consultation and workshops have been held to ensure that both projects maximize environmental and educational values. Seven on Sibley will provide linked experiences with practical models of a wide range of easily adopted sustainable practices: from bee-keeping to composting, from worm farming to hemp masonry, from weaving to building.  A design and planning team continues to develop this project in line with its strategic plan. While not directly connected to Rainbow Road it will be promoted as an integral element of the walking experience.


  • Amphitheatre: the existing bowl–like landform of the grass covered slope which rises steeply from the creek which runs parallel to Cullen Street in the centre of the village provides an ideal location for an amphitheatre feature. The amphitheatre could provide a focus for both formal and informal community uses: outdoor concerts, speaker’s corner, poetry and film and events.  This area is adjacent to Rainbow Road and is utilised annually by Nimbin Mardi Grass.  A comprehensive program and widespread marketing in 2017 attracted over 5000 people who sat in the natural bowl listening to music and a range of speakers. Visits to the site during the event, and feedback from event organizers confirm the suitability of the amphitheatre in this location and the confirmation that this would become the major outdoor site for the annual event.  At the final community consultation the Nimbin School of Arts indicated that it would use the area for a range of cultural events, and would consider management of this part of the walk to embrace the amphitheatre.















  • Rainforest Creek: Where the walking trail meets the creek there will be an option to digress through Nimbin Habitat Gardens – Nature Reserve, a privately owned bushland environment that follows the local freshwater creek and riparian rainforest corridor. (


  • Sculpture Park: Nimbin (and the wider region) has many practicing artists who use a range of materials – particularly recycled materials to express the creative spirit of the area. Special areas for sculpture are added into parts of the walk, with a proposed Sculpture Park precinct situated on a relatively flat open area of grassland between the soccer fields and the caravan park boundary.  Two potential sponsors have indicated interest in sponsoring a biennial sculpture symposium based on sustainability and renewable.  Sites can also be used for periodic events, housing installations and short term ephemeral works.  The Nimbin School of Arts has expressed interest in managing an outdoor element to their firmly established arts programs.

A viewing platform / shelter have been incorporated into the design.



Stage Two:  This Wetlands and bird watching section from Rainbow Power Company through to Cecil Street runs through the back of Aquarius Village Development.  The landowner has given permission for a pathway through this area, and will consider donating a block of land as well as the entire wetland area to the project.  Stage two lends itself to hardy pathways made from recycled car tyres and plastics from SEQ company Replas: (


3.4 Links to other attractions


  • Nimbin links directly to the Australia’s Green Cauldron – a national landscape project. (

It provides the alternative product experiences targeted by this project and its target markets;

  • It will physically link existing Nimbin attractions: Rainbow Power Company, Djanbung Gardens, the main street and murals;
  • Nimbin sits at the doorstep of a range of natural attractions and national parks, and can offer immersive and educational experiences that are a natural fit;
  • Byron Bay and Nimbin have existing links. Every day buses deliver a steady stream of young backpackers to the village;
  • Developing projects such as the Northern Rivers Rail Trail are following the development of Rainbow Road and are keen to link with Rainbow Road as an ‘experience destination’ on longer regional walks (http://


  1. The route of Rainbow Road

The route of Rainbow Road has been established through on-going landowner consultation and input.  It has changed a number of times throughout the development of the project.





4.1 Rainbow Road objectives:


  • To develop to a high standard a regionally significant pedestrian open space corridor as an important community facility which will enhance local lifestyle factors, contribute to a sense of place for Nimbin, and increase visitor appeal;
  • To establish, manage and operate Rainbow Road in such a way as to conserve and interpret both the natural and cultural values of the walk, taking into account the broader locality of the village and its rural, mountain and forest settings;
  • Provide accessible linkages between the attractions;
  • Maximise the educational, cultural and recreational opportunities and experience that form the walk;
  • Expand and improve the existing pedestrian circulation route between the village centre and adjacent accommodation, business and residential precincts.


4.2 Stages of the Physical Walking Experience


The first stage of Rainbow Road is achievable in an 18 month time frame.  Opportunities for further stages have put forward by the Nimbin Community. This first stage, which has two walking options or loops identified above, has been a focus of the costing and implementation of this plan.


Stage One: An entry statement on Cullen Street beside the Nimbin School of Arts will direct walkers along an existing right of way from Cullen Street to the amphitheatre and the rainforest creek area, across the creek and up the embankment between the Nimbin Caravan Park and the Nimbin Headers’ Soccer Club. The trail will traverse across a flat grassy area, ideal for a sculpture park and outdoor exercise area, at which point the walker has two options.

  1. Amble across a bridge and a wetland to Rainbow Power Company and Alternative Way OR
  2. Walk alongside the Headers’ sportsfields to Cecil Street, turning left to Djanbung Gardens and the Jarlanbah Permaculture Hamlet or right along Cecil Street back to the village.


Stage Two:

Follow the creek line from Rainbow Power Company through Aquarius Village, a housing development on Alternative Way where Rainbow Power is located.  Stage Two of the Aquarius Village development includes landscaping plans for a walk commissioned by Permaculture Designer Robyn Francis in 2006.   Surveying and flood studies have been carried out.   The site enjoys good solar access, views of surrounding landforms and close proximity to the village and to the walk attractions.  The owner of the development has indicated his willingness to support stage two.


Stage Three:  This stage will take the walker further up Cecil Street beyond Djanbung Gardens to a planned eco-village (Rivendell - currently on hold).  The plan for this stage was to lead walkers up the hill to Falls Road / High Street Nimbin and closer views of the Nimbin Rocks and then lead back to the village.  Both landowners have given ‘in principle’ support and will wait to see if Rainbow Road proceeds.


Further stages: Wide consultation has gathered ideas for further development of the walking trail in future years.  Extending the trail to take in the Nimbin Bush Theatre and its platypus walk, and the Nimbin Candle Factory is seen as a good option.  Extending the walk along Thorburn Street to stunning swimming holes near backpacker accommodation was also a future option.  Currently Thorburn Street’s footpaths are sub-standard.  The upcoming development of the Nimbin IGA with 5 specialty shops will deliver footpaths which will open up opportunities to extend the walk and consideration could be given to walks past the Nimbin Rox Backpackers and Rainbow Stay Backpackers, along West Road, to enjoy spectacular views of Nimbin Rocks.   



  1. Physical issues

Early on the community made the decision that the walk was for ‘walkers’ – and would not include horse riders and cyclists.


The Scoping Study recommended the walk comply with Australian Walking Track Standards W2.

This means that large numbers of visitors can walk easily in natural environments which are provided with a moderate to high level of interpretive facilities.

An overview of W2 standards is outlined below:

  • Length of track: usually less than 3 kilometres
  • Width: a minimum of 0.6 metres, generally one metre to 2.5 metres
  • Gradient: less than 8 degrees with a maximum of 15 degrees over short sections of up to 30 metres
  • Surfacing and drainage: well drained ‘shoe’ standard, reasonably firm and made from stabilized soils, gravel, stone or pine chips. Recycled materials are also considered here provided the surface is firm
  • Steps: steps and stairs may be included with handrails for user safety
  • Scrub Clearance: a minimum of .03 on either side at ground level, 0.5 at shoulder level
  • Facilities: bridges to full width of track, signposts, interpretive facilities, viewing platforms, shelters and benches.
  • Licenses are needed to conduct formal guided tours

The newly constructed parts of the walk will be just under 3 kms on completion. Stage one is approximately 800m. The gradient will allow access to most people although there will be steps and stairs.  Parts of the walk will be suitable for people with disabilities and for young mothers with prams.  The area from Cullen Street down to the Creek, and up the creek embankment to the Nimbin Headers Sports fields is too steep to enable easy access to elderly or disabled.

Early community ideas for ‘natural’ pathways have proved to be inadequate due to the type of wet weather experienced in the vicinity – illustrating the need for high standard concrete pathways that will be resistant to water flow and wet weather. 


5.1: Statement of Environmental Effects – will address in more detail the infrastructure items:


5.2 Surveying

A survey has been undertaken from Cullen Street to the creek, through to the Headers’ ground and Rainbow Power (Stage One).


5.3 Landscaping

The objective of the landscaping plan has been to develop to a high standard a regionally significant pedestrian open space corridor, contributing to a strong sense of place for locals while having visitor appeal.

The landscaping concept plan incorporates the following objectives, facilities and features:


  • The implementation of appropriate streetscapes and landscape treatments along adjacent roadways and property boundaries including Cullen Street, Alternative Way, Nimbin Headers’ Sports Fields and the Nimbin Caravan Park
  • Water sensitive design principles
  • Appropriate entry statements
  • Conservation of existing native vegetation
  • The establishment of pedestrian access to a range of natural and recreational settings
  • The facilitation of linkages between the village centre and adjacent residential, accommodation and commercial precincts
  • The development of a Sculpture Park precinct for the display of sculpture and artworks as both permanent and temporary installations
  • The design and development of culturally appropriate built structures and landscape settings
  • The incorporation of energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable principles and practices
  • The development of a suite of unique facilities, elements and features which encourage increased visitation not only to Nimbin but to the entire Northern Rivers Region.




5.4 Engineering

Engineering has been included in the landscape brief.  Landmark ( has developed and costed designs for the bridges which will be used to traverse the creek.  These are engineered to Australian design stands.  Landmark is a well respected engineering company with extensive experience designing and building urban furniture and landscape structure, with councils, government and the private sector as clients.

5.5 Signage:

The development of a consistent system of signage is an essential component of the function and management of a highly visited tourist attraction like the Rainbow Road. The signage system incorporates a hierarchy of signs for:

  • Entries
  • Precinct areas
  • Directional
  • Informative
  • Interpretive
  • Regulatory


Signage has been designed to blend discretely into the environment. It uses the Rainbow Prism which celebrated the classic Pink Floyd album released in the year of Aquarius (1973).

It links with Nimbin’s heritage; it is sophisticated and contemporary and is evocative of the hippie era.  Environmental awareness in the ‘brain tree clever ecology’ symbol will re-enforce Nimbin’s green and earth-aware culture.


Signage is made from powder coated steel and uses decal lettering and maps which can be readily updated.  Engineered concrete footings ensures ‘souvenir proofing’ and safety in high winds. Design allows for low level solar lighting.  Surface is smooth and graffiti resistant.


An entrance statement on Cullen Street announces the beginning of the walk and sets the strong signage presence.  The use of the prism makes for a readily recognizable symbol through the walk.


A ‘heart’ work  by Roa Dart (a local love guerilla artist) could be celebrated as part of the entrance statement as show in the ‘Cullen Street Entrance’ concept above.  This concept links in with the Lismore Come to the Heart theme










5.6 Maintenance

Rainbow Road is designed to be low maintenance via clever landscaping and use of natural systems and sturdy features.

An estimated 200 people per day will take the walk.  Narrative supplied to users will focus on ‘treading lightly’.  Rubbish bins will not be provided excepting at either end of the walk.  Plastic drinking bottles and ‘throwaways’ will be discouraged. Maintenance costs could be offset by volunteer input (Friends of Rainbow Road) in association with Council maintenance operations. Such a group could also provide ‘community watch’ and visitor information/guide services.


Low level maintenance cost is estimated at $44,000 per annum based on the following broad assumptions:

  • One part-time maintenance worker 12 hours pw x 50 weeks @ $40ph $24,000 per annum: (cleaning of signage and sculpture, graffiti removal, clearing of footpaths and general garden maintenance)
  • Replacement of plants and signage, equipment costs, weed control, mowing, brushcutting $20,000


  1. Legal, Risk and Crime Prevention issues


6.1 Risk and risk assessment

The legal right of way for stage one is owned by Lismore City Council with the exception of a small detour through property belonging to Nimbin Headers’ Sports Club Inc. who hold their own insurance and who have ratified the walk through their land.

A draft risk management plan was developed with input from landowners, local police and council. Discussions with Lismore City Council’s Insurance providers identified there would not be any significant increase in insurance premiums.

There are two risk management goals for Rainbow Road:

  • To manage the risk on the track, and
  • To minimise any losses from lawsuits.


To accomplish these goals, the following has been addressed:

  • Appropriate design and build of the track
  • Income identification to enable consistent and responsible management and maintenance
  • Insurance issues


It is recommended that Lismore City Council consider:

  • Writing a ‘Philosophy Statement’ on its position to safety and risk (a mission statement for the track in regards to risk)
  • Ratifying the design and construction policy (low risk materials, use of sustainable materials, solar lighting as per the landscaping and engineering plans)
  • Having input into the final signage system and placement
  • Developing a visitor code of conduct
  • Establishing a track inspection and maintenance policy.
  • Creating a record keeping system
  • Developing an accident reporting and analysis system
  • Developing a plan of management.


6.2 Crime Prevention and meeting CPTED Principles

Consultation with Constable Leeilyania Ryan (Crime Prevention Officer) emphasized the need to follow CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) principles in all levels of designing, engineering and landscaping.

Sergeant Darren Wilson of the Nimbin Police attended a project presentation with Constable Ryan and reiterated the need for good design to minimize opportunities for crime.

Constable Ryan has walked the first stage of the track.  The second stage of the track was too wet and muddy to walk, but landscape concept plans have been made available.  Major concerns from the Police were:

  • Ensuring that landscaping was open
  • Using low and high vegetation for the rainforest creek area, with no clumping trees where prospective criminals could hide
  • Minimal night lighting
  • No public toilets or closed buildings along the route.


These concerns have been considered when planning the track’s route and the design of inclusions.  Public toilets are available in the village at either end of the walk. 


The landscaping plans and designs use the four key strategies put forward by CPTED:

  • Access control (the tactical use of landforms and features)
  • Territorial Re-enforcement: (Community guardianship and ownership)
  • Space management (to encourage maximum usage and enjoyment)
  • Surveillance (natural surveillance where people can see and be seen by others).


National and international experience proves that regular use and ownership of community precincts provides anti-crime environments.  Rainbow Road has strong community support and evidence proves that the walk will be used regularly.




  1. Costing and Governance


7.1 Costs for implementation stage one


Landscaping, engineering and signage: Schedule of Quantities and Costs




Unit Cost

Total cost

From Cullen St to Rainbow Power & Soccer Club Pavilion





Earthworks and Preparation





Entry Statement (signage)





Pedestrian pathway: broom finished coloured concrete with an average width of 2.2 metres





Stairs 8 sets, 4 treads at 150mm risers each

32 steps









Bridge Construction major creek crossing





Bridge Construction – secondary stream crossing





Multipurpose shelter





Power supply to shelter





Walkway Arbour





Feature stone seat walling





Water reticulation










Park furniture:     seating









Art In built





Signage (directional, regulatory, information and interpretive)





Amenity landscaping





Rainforest Rehabilitation

5,500 m2
















7.2 Governance and co-ordination

One of the keys to achieving Rainbow Road’s vision and the driving catalyst for the project’s success will be effective coordination, leadership and funding commitment by the Nimbin community, business and all levels of government.

At the final community consultation on 22nd June 2013 the attendees suggested that a steering committee be formed to guide the project until income streams could be realized.

It was suggested that the steering committee be made up of members of those community groups and businesses who have put forward ideas and offered to manage parts of the facility. These groups are:

  • Nimbin School of Arts
  • Nimbin Neighborhood Centre
  • Nimbin Garden Club
  • Nimbin Community Centre Inc (main overseeing community organisation)
  • Nimbin Central School
  • Lismore Tourism
  • Specific individuals with specific skills pertaining to parts of the project.


The Steering committee will oversee the following roles:

  • Marketing and Communication
  • Project coordination activities
  • Funding and grant applications
  • Industry up-skilling