NIMBIN, New South Wales, Australia
28.59° S, 153.22° E
European settlers come
Chop down trees
Make fences and bring cows
But out of cowshit grows
Trees returnAnonymous (Nimbin)
We have a plan. Forged by firelight at our bush-camp, we crafted a plan. It seems a good plan.
I spend most of the morning drive in the van’s shotgun-seat drinking through two cartoons of iced coffee, listening to Mosby’s only cassette tape – the Best of George Michael – and reminding myself this is a good plan. Gotta have faith, George reminds me. We arrive midday after leaving at the crack-ass of dawn, which is a stroke of luck itself – neither Mosby, Mindy or I are prone to waking early to get on the road. And here we are: the cannabis capital of Oz, Nimbin. Initial impression matches expectation. It’s a dimly-lit, slow-wit circus, a clown-show of giddy smiles, glazed-eyes and bare feet with the fragrance of skunks fornicating in a hot sack of patchoulis. I step out of the van and stretch after the non-stop four-hour drive (Mosby had a plastic bucket for our piss (which we emptied as we drove along M1); ergo why Mindy volunteered to sit in the back). Mid-stretch, I’m advanced upon by a hippie-chick with sun-bleached braids lighter than her bronzed skin, wearing a hempen potato sack with itchy drawstrings. G’day, love, says she. Hi. She takes my hand with both of hers and holds it briefly between her breasts. You are loved here, she says, using three syllables to enunciate “here” in her Aussie twang. Good to be loved, I say, holding eye contact with this natural beauty before she turns to walk away. In my hand, she’s left a folded piece of paper. I un-wad to find the penciled word, “cookies”. Curious.
Vic, Mindy hollers at me, this dick-knuckle’s wrist-deep in brownies already. Watch your mate, eh? She’s referring to the cornishman, Mosby, the tall and sinewy pugilist under the floppy hat, licking his fingers of brownie crumbs. First minute in Nimbin and you’re already eating edibles, I ask him. Feckin’ Eden, innit, he responds to my question with one of his own. Let’s stick to the plan, Mosby, I tell him. Good plan, issuh?, he says, wiping the saliva of his fingers on his shirt. Where’s this laneway then?
We’re obviously novices in the drug trade. My background is pizza delivery, Mosby is a carpenter. Mindy Mims, well… she’s a freckled-girl Mosby met along the way. She’s Aussie, which helps. Her cousins gave us good intelligence. Most everyone in Nimbin is either a grower or a seller. Nimbin is a one cop town. His name is Constable Perry Dooker and he’s easily disarmed with flattery and clever puns. The main drag is Cullen Street and there is a laneway off this drag where the “lane boys” will allow you to sample the latest strains of marijuana and then buy in-bulk. I’ve a few hundred Australian dollars to get us started. Once we’ve the weed we need, we’ll stuff the camper-van mattress before driving north to Queensland. We can’t go back to the Gagaju, the bush-camp we set-out from. Word of our plan has already begun circulating and the minute we return with a mattress full of cannabis, desperate backpackers and machete-wielding bushmen will come out of the woodwork looking for a quick score. Those fucking jackals will hack us up and feed our bits to the Noosa crocs. No, instead, we’ll drive straight to Brisbane and bunk with Mindy’s kinfolk. There’s a risk there as her father, Emmet “Tire Iron Tony” Mims, wants Mosby dead, but she promises to us her cousins will be discrete. From there, it is straight north as far as we can get. The further north into Queensland we go, the more expensive the price of marijuana is and the more bang for our buck. If we can make it to Cairns, we’ll triple our money. A couple more trips like that and we’ll have the money we need to head west.
And that’s the central piece to the plan – head west. Western Australia, to be specific.
To get a renewal of an Australian work visa, you need to have 88 days of legitimate work experience. David Mosborough’s visa is expiring and while he has had his share of employment down under, none of it has been legitimate. Mosby’s been a cash-paid bouncer and night watchman. He’s gigolo’d in Melbourne, he fought in underground bar-knuckle brawls in Sydney and he currently is half of the POME & Yank Rescue Dive Team (I’m the Yankee & he’s the Prisoner of Mother England), but most of our rescue work has been pro bono. For the good of all humanity and what… Point is, Mosby’s made plenty of money in Australia, but has spent it all on his camper-van, jugs of beer, boxes of wine, tobacco, marijuana, rolling papers, petrol, scuba equipment, his stupid floppy hat and a pair of earrings for Mindy. He’s broke with no legitimate work history and less than 88 days on his visa. The plan then is to flee to Western Australia, the wild frontier, where no one gives a shit about visas. But first, we need travel money, which brings us to the free markets of Nimbin.
Why would Mindy Mims go along with this plan? Because she’ll do anything to get the fuck out of Brisbane. Why would I go along with this plan to buy and transport and sell enough weed to finance a cross-continent drive to Western Australia? Good question. The answer? Whale sharks.
This isn’t Kansas we have to cross, I told Mosby back at the campfire when he proposed the road trip. There’s a lot of woop-woop between here and way over there. That’s Mad Max desert. There are towns in the outback where everyone lives underground because it’s too damned hot. Why would I want to make this trip? M‘ansome, Mosby addressed me, once we get to Perth, we in proper whale shark territory. Don’t do it for me, do it for them big fin. Ere me, Vic? I scratched my chin, nodded, well shit, I said in contemplation. No, whale shark, Mosby corrected me. We been already snorkel-deep in whale shit in the Whitsundays. These be sharks, m’ansome. Whales without them blow-holes.
Whale sharks is my motivation. I’ve dove with hammerheads in the Galapagos. Mosby and I dove with humpbacks in the Coral Sea. Heading to Western Australia to dive with whale sharks… that is some next level deep-shit swimming, enough motivation to turn this backpacker into a criminal in order to finance the cross-continental journey. But first, we require contraband.
Mindy Mims, a sprightly thing in her short jean cut-offs, sweat-stained-yellow white tank-top and auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail, paces the corner, between the cafe and the tattoo parlor, on the lookout for Constable Perry Dooker. Meanwhile, Mosby and I walk the laneway, nodding at blokes emerging from the shadows. Cool? Yep. Cop? Nah. I hang back four paces, as if keeping distance disassociates me from the crime. Mosby is the expert here; I’m the numbers man. He begins sampling product, each of the vendors warning him, shit’s stronger than what you’ve puffed up north, mate. Mosby shrugged them all off, I don’t get stoned on hydroponic weed, m’ansome. With every huff off of joint or pipe, Mosby coughed-up righteous phlegm tinted with the Falmouth soot of his youth. Jesus, dude, I say, asking, you dying or what? After an hour of visiting all the lane boys, Mosby is wide-eyed, gapped-mouth and giddy.
What’s the verdict, I ask Mosby. I’ll get to it dreckly, m’dear, he says stumbling past me. He’s fucking out of his gourd, his hands grasping at air around him as if he were swimming through the atmosphere. He begins whistling to a laughing kookaburra, which has strangely landed on his shoulder. I’m starting to wonder if I have a contact-high and am hallucinating the chorus of birds backing-up Mosby’s whistles.
I need a beer. I leave Mosby in his state and return to Cullen Street. I approach the HEMP Embassy and see the hippie from my welcoming committee wander inside. I’m pleased to see there’s a bar within, but before I seek refreshment, I approach the blonde-dreadlocked chick. Hey Cookie, I call her. Her name is, actually, if you believe her, Caroline Moonwine. The world around us disappears as she and I engage in several long seconds of delightful discourse. She only bathes by waterfall, she explains with a suggestive perk of her pierced eyebrow. She tells me bathing by waterfall is a luxury of living in Nimbin, but despite the good water pressure, I’ve noticed she has the musk of an ox. And I kind of dig it. I ask if I might whet her palette with the beverage of her choice, a pint of XXXX or a tequila shot or whatever. A few moments later, we’re drinking rooibos and she’s reading my palm. Defo never seen the likes of this, Caroline Moonwine says, you’re living three parallel lives at once, love. Which are you in, I ask, let’s go with that one. She smiles, her heavy eye-lids dipping. Mate, Caroline Moonwine tells me, I’m preggie with a rando bruce’s baby. Ya sure you want to take me back to your oldies with some other bloke’s bubs in my fanny? Well shit… I contemplate. Maybe? Can we sleep on it?
G’damn Vic!, Mindy Mims crashes into the cafe and begins hollering as soon as she sees me, what’s the fucking John Dory, mate? The fuck, I shrug. Davo’s gone troppo, Vic, she tells me. A few roos loose in the top paddock. The fuck, I ask for clarification. Mindy groans before explaining, Mosby’s gone nutter. Them edibles kicked-in and now he’s skipping around like an agro bouncy-mouse, she tells me. Not happy, Jan!
I turn towards Caroline Moonwine, might we continue this later? Bloody unlikely, she laughs, eyelashes fluttering, but I be here if ya lookin’. Dinkum, I say with a nod.
Mindy and I find Mosby down an alleyway, squatting behind a dumpster. Shhh, he hushes us, shush! Fuck’s the problem, Mos? Bogan Todd, Mosby says. Bleddy Neanderthal tailed us from Brisbane. Dude, I tell him, that’s impossible. I wonder if the strong weed combined with his punch-drunk boxer’s brain has made the man mad. Bogan Todd said he’d crack our skulls open and eat our brains like tapioca if we ever return to Brisbane, but he’s not going to follow us down to New South Wales. Mosby’s eyes find Mindy and widen. You, he says to her. Me, she asks. Ya bleddy told ya pa where we headed. No!, she exclaims. Mosby rises to his feet and he’s livid, asking, how’d ya explain Charlie Big Spuds cracking his knuckles as he sniffs my arse? Who, Mindy and I ask. The bleddy bruiser been on me heels, Mosby says, pointing down the alley. Mosby is nervous, pacing and complaining about Perry Dooker’s undies, which I mistake as underwear until Mosby clarifies he is referring to the constable’s team of undercover narcs following Mosby’s every step. What was our safe word, I ask Mindy. I think this calls for a retreat. We’ven’t the grass yet, mate, she says, eyes worried, freckles enflamed. Let’s make camp, I say, lick our wounds and try again tomorrow. I can get more intel at the Embassy, I say, thinking of Caroline Moonwine.
Mosby falls asleep standing and when he wakes a second later, he shouts Vic!, as if surprised to see me. The kookaburra perched on his shoulder spooks and flies away. Vic!, you’ve got get me out of here, m’ansome. Hey buddy, I say, realizing his mind at this point is the refried beans in a dropped burrito. Everything’s okay, we’ll buy the weed tomorrow. Mosby drops his jaw as if he saw a ghost, saying, not with Tire-Iron Tony licking me skids! What, I ask, standing beside Tire-Iron Tony’s daughter, Mindy. Her eyes squint with similar suspicion. Mosby is zoned-in on me and grabs fistfuls of my shirt, saying, m’bird must’ve told her pa where to find me. I seen’m. Why, I ask Mosby, would Mindy tell her father where we are if she’s trying to escape him too. Oh, Vic, Mosby pouts, his lower lip sticking out like a sore thumb. She must’ve found out I rooted Shelby and she wants us dead. You fucked Shelby, both Mindy and I ask simultaneously with equal disbelief. Mosby shrieks when he realizes Mindy Mims is standing at his shoulder. Christ’s uncle, Mosby says, startled by Mindy’s appearance, where’d you come?
You fucked Shelby? She and I want to know.
Shelby Manclaw is Mindy Mims’s best friend and a vengeful harpy powered by spite, or as Mosby once summarized, the bird is 20 stone of bad mood. As Mosby’s wingman, I spent an evening entertaining Shelby Manclaw to allow Mindy and Mosby their private time alone. I only meant to distract Shelby, but once things became physical, with Shelby putting a harpy talon on my thigh, I faked acid reflux. It’s one of those tricks, like the surprise head-butt, which only works once.
You fucked Shelby Manclaw?
Mosby, whose short-term memory seems to be short-circuiting, blinked-hard at Mindy and asks her, who told you that, m’dear? Oh get a dog up ya, Mindy yells at him. Ya fucking told me, ya cunt! Why’d ya have to pull-in me best mate, Mos? I never touched her, Mosby claims, too late. Ya already confessed, Mindy is screaming, stop flaffing around!
This is not going to plan.
Let’s find a camp, take a nap and settle down, I say to the team. Vic, Mindy Mims says, you’re hopeless, mate. She is shaking her head at me. You’d lose your balls if they weren’t sewn in a sack. Ta for the memories, I’m driving the shag-wagon back to Brisbane. Give us the keys then, Mos, she says with a hand out. No!, I say, not wanting to become stranded in Nimbin with a submariner seven leagues out of his mind. Out of desperation, I say to Mosby, don’t give her the keys, it will only trap us in town for when her father gets here. Tire Iron Tony, Mosby asks with eyes-wide. Ya tell him where we at, Mosby asks, is it cos I pulled-in Shelby?
The dude is sundowning, I say to Mindy, who’s shaking her head over the sad state of her guy. No my love, Mindy says, reaching out to stroke Mosby’s face affectionately. Ya fucked Shelby because she deserved a good rogering. And I love you for it, she says, lying. And, no mate, she says, I never called me pa. These just mind-games Vic is playing you for, she says. Vic?, Mosby says, turning to me. Nonsense, I say. Who had your back during rescue diver training, Dave? Me. Don’t trust her. You can trust me.
Mosby plops himself down on the curb and begins gasping on air like an emotional child whose ice cream was smacked to the ground by a pissed-off wombat.
You want to know why Charlie Big Spuds been following you since start, Mos? Mindy Mims is addressing him with one hand on her denim hip while the other is orchestrating some vast conspiracy. Sus it out, mate: C.I.A., Mos, she says. Soon as your dick-splash showed on they radar, they release the hounds from Pine Gap and this fuckwit been following you like a blowie-on-shit since. Right? Right? Mosby blinked away tears from his curb seat and looked at me, Vic?
Why the fuck would the CIA want to spy on a Cornish carpenter spending his aunt’s inheritance in Australia? What’s the most un-American thing you’ve ever done? Drink warm beer? Why would you be a person of interest for the CIA? And no, I am not a spy, and even if I was… I shake my head and shrug. I’d be the worst spy in the world. I didn’t even know you fucked Shelby Manclaw. Shush!, Mosby rises to his feet. Don’t spread them lies, Vic! I would never! Shelby is twenty stone of ‘emorrhoid, m’dear. Wouldn’t touch her with a stolen clergy dick bathed in holy water. Believe us, m’dear, he says to Mindy Mims, who’s unamused.
Oi! What’s this then?
Mosby, Mindy and I turn towards Cullen Street where the one cop in town is scrutinizing our threesome. No loitering, eh?
No sir, of course not, sir.
Don’t let me catch ya urinating in public neither then, eh? Constable Perry Dooker says.
Only if frightened, I say, and belch out of nervousness.
Constable Perry Dooker grumbles and begins to approach when Mindy Mims has a stroke of genius, saying, Oi! When this yankee bloke last pissed ‘imself, he was shaking his leg saying he’d ants in his pants, but when I called me aunties, they all be safe at home. Constable Perry Dooker chuckles at the wordplay. He nods, keep your piss off my road. We’d never disrespect an honorable man like ya, Mindy says, getting a last nod out of the lone policeman before he returns to Cullen Street.
I pissed myself, Mosby says to us. Not cos Charlie Big Spuds, mind. I just really ought to go. Mosby appears dejected. Mindy Mims, suddenly sympathetic, goes to her Cornish paramour and tells him its okay.
They’re doing taco night at the hostel, I suggest to my traveling companions. I personally despise Aussie tacos as it is seasoned with curry powder, which I normally do not have a problem with, but as taco it is nothing short of a crime against humanity. But tacos, regardless of their source of kick, unite people; Mindy and Mosby are interested.
We eat a lot of curry-spiced taco. I never do eat Caroline Moonwine’s cookie. We leave Nimbin, tails between our legs, humbled, stumbling, with not a leaf of weed on our persons. I may or may not be a spy, but I am certainly no drug-runner. Those big fin whale sharks of the Western Australia coast will have to wait to see the likes of us.
Other Dive Bar Adventures of the POME & Yank Rescue Dive Team:
Airlie Beach – Diver’s Paradise
Gagaju – Bushcamp of the Damned
Sydney – Vic Embraces Mortality