Remembering the Aquaruis Festival are Paul Joseph (left) and Graeme Dunstan.
Remembering the Aquaruis Festival are Paul Joseph (left) and Graeme Dunstan. Cathy Adams

New age of Aquarius dawns for region

AQUARIUS Festival co-founder Paul Joseph believes the Northern Rivers would be a very different place today if students and hippies had never organised a festival in Nimbin 35 years ago.

He credits the Aquarius Festival, which grew out of the student protest movement in Canberra, for transforming a dying rural region into a thriving community with new interests.

"I couldn't be anything but overjoyed with what we've achieved," Mr Joseph, who came to the Northern Rivers with the first wave of hippies, said.

The Nimbin Aquarius Festival will next month celebrate its 35th anniversary, and to mark the occasion the Lismore Regional Art Gallery is hosting an Aquarius Exhibition.

More than 20 artists have contributed to the collection, which Mr Joseph described as "a representation of what we've created here".

"We have relics from 35 years ago, and photos taken at the original event," he said.

"The costume I wore 35 years ago is in there."

Yesterday, a large crowd gathered at the gallery for the launch of the exhibition, which includes music and speeches by some of the original festival-goers.

Former student leader Graeme Dunstan said he had arrived in Nimbin as a scout for the Australian Union of Students, which persuaded the Nimbin Progress Association to allow the festival to be held there.

He said the students wanted to find a place away from the cities where they could look inward at the peace process.


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