A Day In The LIfe Of. Tour Operator, Jim Merritt. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
A Day In The LIfe Of. Tour Operator, Jim Merritt. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

A Day in the Life: Hop on the Grasshopper

THE travellers on board Jim Merritt's Nimbin tour bus are almost as diverse as the rainbow-coloured paint job that decorates it.

From Europe, Asia and America, tourists from all over the globe jump on board the Grasshoppers tour bus for a uniquely Northern Rivers experience.

Pick-up is at 10am in Byron Bay each morning, giving Jim ample time to start the day with a 20km bike ride before taking his seat behind the wheel.

The tour's first stop is at the Eltham Hotel for a quick bite to eat before heading on to Nimbin.

"I give them an hour and a half in Nimbin and they wander around and experience Nimbin," Jim said.

"And from there we go to Rocky Creek dam and I leave them down by the water and I cook up a barbecue."

One of the perks of his job, Jim said, is the buzz he gets when travellers experience the Northern Rivers for the first time and are overwhelmed by the beauty.

"Often people have a misconception of Australia if they haven't done their homework," he said.

"They think Australia's flat and brown, and then they start travelling the East Coast and realise because of all these extinct volcanoes it's green and it's lush and it's really great.

"Lots of people, when they come to Australia, they'll travel from Sydney to Cairns, and they'll call in at Byron on the way through and a lot of people will stay in this area for their last week before they leave."

One recent traveller even admitted she booked herself on to the tour after her aunty raved about her experience on 'Jim's alternative tours' 15 years ago.

"She always remembered her aunty talking about it when she was a little girl, so she's on the bus because of her aunty who came 15 years ago," Jim said.

The busiest time for the Nimbin tours are during the Christmas holidays. In spring, Jim said he keeps himself busy with weddings, and during winter it's weekly trips to Grafton, with footy teams.



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