Alternative. Accessible. Affordable.

2560 2553 In Good Company | Northern Rivers

Nimbin Apothecary

54 Cullen St, Nimbin

Visit Lismore Northern Rivers-01
Alternative. Accessible. Affordable.

“People have been suffering, it’s been a tough time and it’s okay to feel shit.”

Sammi Allen, owner of Nimbin Apothecary, is summing up the past three years for the Northern Rivers and, in many ways, the spirit of her unique business located on Nimbin’s iconic Cullen Street. It’s a business imbued with values of compassion, acceptance, kindness and patience.

“I think this is what we’ve been trying to share through the apothecary – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to recover, this is going to take a really long time.”

Nimbin Apothecary is a herbal medicine dispensary providing acute over-the-counter consulting for herbal medicine prescriptions. Sammi describes the apothecary as a “community service”, and an extensive range of products includes teas, medicinal creams, powders, natural face products, body oils and everything in between – and all products are made in-house. Medicinal mushrooms, herbal tinctures and supplements are the perennial community favourites, Sammi says.

“People can come in if they’ve got a cough or cold, or can’t sleep,” she says, “and we can prescribe them herbal medicine without them having to have a consultation. It’s all about making herbal medicine accessible to the community – accessibility through affordability.”

Nimbin Apothecary first opened in 1990 under the ownership of Diana Roberts. Sammi bought the business in December 2018 and enjoyed a honeymoon period, of sorts, of about a year before everything changed. First came the bushfires of Black Summer, then came the COVID-19 pandemic, then came the disastrous flooding of early 2022. These were all things that led to the “tough time” she speaks about, and the trauma that local residents are still working through.

However, the apothecary, which employs six people, played a crucial role in this time – especially during the pandemic.

“Being an alternative medicine dispensary, in a community that’s very much into alternative medicine, it was one of our busiest times,” says Sammi. “The only difficulty we really faced was that you could only have one member of staff and one customer in at a time, so we had lines of people down the street.”

And as restrictions eased: “We were also a safe space where people could come in and share their stories.”

The floods, however, were a different proposition. While Nimbin itself was not as badly affected as other towns nearby, it was cut off for periods. This prevented tourists from visiting the famous town – tourism being a valuable source of business for the apothecary. “We’re quite unique to tourists, who just like to come in and see what we do.”

“It’s all about making herbal medicine accessible to the community – accessibility through affordability”

Nimbin Apothecary’s status in the town goes beyond just being a hub of herbal medicine. Sammi is an active member of Nimbin Chamber of Commerce, while the apothecary also has involvement with local sport teams and schools. Another major initiative has been a herbal growers’ collective – something that, despite disruption by the floods, is designed to champion the area’s farmers and establish a “local supply chain” that not only supports local produce, but also will prove useful in the event of Nimbin being cut off again.

As for the future, Sammi is keen to expand Nimbin Apothecary’s involvement in education. The business has an impressive online presence – through a website and solid social media activity – but it is her ambition to re-engage with people through workshops and other in-person events. These are things that, knowing Nimbin and its surrounds, will surely find an enthusiastic audience.

For now, though, the apothecary is gently playing its part in the region getting back on its feet after the many existential threats of the past three years. It’s a process that will take time – and is one that shouldn’t be rushed.

“It’s okay, everyone,” says Sammi, “it’s been a really hard time.”

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