The Hippies Come to Town

Shopping Bag, 1972

Peter Geddes, together with his wife and young family, visited Bellingen in 1972 while on a camping holiday. The Geddes family fell in love with the town and decided to stay but soon discovered there was nowhere in town to buy the ‘good foods’ they were used to eating: “We couldn’t buy brown rice, we couldn’t buy brown bread, we couldn’t buy yoghurt.”

They bought a dilapidated building in town, a former Milk Bar, and created The Good Food Shop. The people of Bellingen didn’t see the need for ‘health food’, but soon after opening the shop, the Aquarius Festival held at Nimbin in 1973 brought newcomers, hippies, to the NSW north coast. The countercultural arts and music festival celebrated alternative thinking and sustainable lifestyles.

Many festival-goers stayed and settled in towns across the north coast, including Bellingen, where disused farmland and housing were cheap and plentiful. The hippy population embraced The Good Food Shop and its good foods, including brown bread, lentils, and mung beans. Produce was carried home in eco-friendly bags like this one.

While with rapidly escalating property prices in the area in the last fifteen years Bellingen might more correctly now be described as a place for hipsters rather than hippies, the legacy of the hippies remains and has been documented in the 2021 movie, The Promised Land, by Peter Geddes and Peter Gailey.


What is the name of the movie about the hippies in Bellingen?

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