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'Bring back the bong': protest

Bringabong manager Dionne May (front) with the Bringabong Babes during a dress rehearsal before this weekend’s Nimbin MardiGrass law reform rally.
Bringabong manager Dionne May (front) with the Bringabong Babes during a dress rehearsal before this weekend’s Nimbin MardiGrass law reform rally. David Nielsen

BRINGABONG’S thriving bong shop on Nimbin’s main street has called in the heavy artillery to protest against new State legislation banning the public display of all tobacco and smoking accessories.

For a business specialising in bongs, hookahs and smoking paraphernalia that employs 12 people, that pretty much means the end of business as they know it.

In the well-trodden tradition of Nimbin’s eclectic Ganga Faeries, the 20 lycra-spangled Bringabong Babes will be out in force during MardiGrass to bedazzle bystanders and raise support for their besieged business.

With their red and yellow super hero threads, created by Nimbin fashion designer Christine Chester, the girls bring yet another colour to the saturated rainbow smorgasbord on offer over the three-day festival advocating for cannabis law reform.

The Bringabong Babes are the brainchild of shop manager Dionne May.

“Ask any backpacker – Australians are known around the world as the biggest bong smokers,” she said.

Store owner David Hyett, who’s thriving five-year-old business has since expanded to two shopfronts, said the Bringabong Babes’ mission was simply to ‘bring back the bong’.

“Up until now the hookah was excluded from bong bans because of its cultural significance, but we consider the bong a cultural item – in fact, it is an Australian icon,” he declared.

On a slightly more serious note he warned the new legislation, which comes into force on July 1, would threaten garden accessories around Australia.

“We’re warning Australians to lock up their garden hoses and take out shares in Orchy before it’s too late,” he said.

“The way it’s going, soon you’ll need a licence to sell tobacco, which will give the big corporations the opportunity to control the market.

“By clamping down on smaller specialist suppliers, this patronising government is pandering to the beerbarons and pharmaceutical companies to supply the population’s need for stimulation, which puts more power in the hands of corporations.”

For a business that prides itself on providing 236 different types of cigarette papers – the biggest range available in Australia – Mr Hyett concedes he will have to make some changes.

“We’ll have to consider bringing in other drugs like coffee,” he said.

Meanwhile, across the street at the MardiGrass nerve centre, the Nimbin Hemp Embassy, volunteers were as busy as accountants at tax time untangling the glitches in the MardiGrass matrix.

“All these modern regulations and requirements like DAs have really got us organised,” said embassy president Michael Balderstone.

“I think every business and community group will benefit financially this year.”


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