Key people: Two of the key MardiGrass organisers, Blossom and Michael Balderstone, of the Nimbin Hemp Embassy.
Key people: Two of the key MardiGrass organisers, Blossom and Michael Balderstone, of the Nimbin Hemp Embassy. David Nielsen

MardiGrass clean up underway

DESPITE quite a few woolly heads, volunteers were out in force yesterday morning packing up and cleaning the streets of Nimbin after the 18th annual MardiGrass on the weekend.

One of the event’s organisers, Michael Balderstone, from the Hemp Embassy, said after 18 years the festival, which started as a demonstration, had not lost its edge, but simply found a new one.

“The edge has changed. Clearly the passion for law reform is still there, but when we are not seeing much movement you have to keep your spirits up,” he explained.

“It’s now a celebration. We are still here, we aren’t going to move or change our stance, and it’s become a lot younger with a lot of people under 25 who are educated about drugs.”

Although organisers and police had no official crowd estimates, many thought it was slightly down from last year.

“Tourist numbers seem to be down as compared to last year,” secretary of Nimbin Chamber of Commerce, Eugenie Stephans, said.

“This year the festival has attracted a much younger discerning crowd. Some businesses have done very well, some not. Overall it was a well-organised, peaceful MardiGrass and all had a fantastic time.”

Inspector Nicole Bruce said on Sunday onlookers, who came from as far afield as Perth, were well behaved.

Police said over the festival’s two days there were numerous arrests, including three for serious assaults and more than six on drug-related charges. A further 16 were cautioned for possession and supply of drugs.

Three knives were also seized during searches.

The world famous two-day event cost about $80,000 to stage and by late yesterday Mr Balderstone was hopeful of breaking even.

“We are just happy it didn’t rain,” he said, adding that insurance costs and a more complicated approval process to hold the festival were adding an extra burden.

In what appears to be a growing ‘love in’, Mr Balderstone yesterday praised the police, even though they pulled out of a tug-a-war with the Polite Police momentsbefore the event.

Unfortunately, one 29-year-old festival-goer from Brisbane had to be rescued on Sunday after falling into a flowing creek and suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg.

Sergeant Dave Longfield jumped into the flowing creek and found the injured man lying face down. The man is in a stable condition in Lismore Base Hospital.


Peace, love and law at MardiGrass

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