For years, Aussie stoners have typically taken the legendary strain to be nothing more than a product of folklore. Many have claimed that the genetics live on in their own local operations. So, Mullumbimby Madness – is it still being cultivated somewhere out there? Was it ever really a thing?
Madness in the North
It wasn’t long ago that Australia was experiencing a cannabis renaissance. A number of extremely potent strains had been cultivated by the new arrivals of the sixties and seventies. A cultural upheaval brought these alternative types away from the metropolis, with many choosing to settle deep in the lush forests and idyllic countryside of Northern NSW. This movement reached its peak during the 1973 Nimbin Aquarius Festival, where thousands of hippies made the region their home.
These hippies were basically the pioneers of the North Coast cannabis culture, and they held a great affinity towards the Old Mother Sativa that flourished in the area. In the town of Main Arm, the OMS strain mixed together with seeds from all over South East Asia, and Mullumbimby Madness (otherwise known as mull, madness or M.M.) entered the world. The strain is supposedly unparalleled — a particularly strong sativa that delivers a clean, long-lasting, high.
Early on, the strains associated with ‘Mullumbimby Madness’ were generally of a very high quality. The bud was everywhere, and quickly became known as the best outdoor sativa smoke that Australia had to offer. Its notoriety lives on in etymologically in the word ‘mull’, which is Australian slang for cannabis.
“Mullumbimby Madness was like a myth when we were kids. Everyone knew someone who knew someone that had smoked it or had the strain, but you could never really get your hands on it.”
Down by Main Arm
What most folks consider ‘true’ Mullumbimby Madness initially appeared in the town of Main Arm during the summer of 1974/75. MM was a bush weighing in at about 20 or 30 pounds which would spread out dramatically and grow into a wildly untamed tree. The weed’s headiness was incomparable at the time, and its distinct dark blue-green colour quickly transformed it into a regional legend – but its cultivation was likely a one-off. It wasn’t long before the genetics of the strain destabilised. By the end of its short run of mass popularity, the quality of the bud had deteriorated considerably.
It is rumoured that a few of these hippies played around with Colchicine, a toxic plant extract commonly used to treat Gout symptoms. When applied to seeds, colchicine produces polyploidy, which increases the size of the cell walls, along with promoting THC levels. Funnily enough, ‘Mullum Madness’ may have just been a product of cooked stoners doing some early genetic modification experiments on their grows. The only catch? These experiments required a substance five times deadlier than cyanide to work effectively.
When it came to breeding, the colchicine treatment left the plants ineffective. Seed infertility was another purported downside. Up to 95% of the MM seeds would simply not germinate; the ones that did would be horrific mutants. Thus, reproducing the strain proved to be difficult, with efforts to ‘stabilise’ the genetic modification ultimately ending in failure.
A Main Arm grower, Shantibaba, took a series of strains which many believed to be MM from Australia to Amsterdam in the 1980’s. However, evidence indicates that these La Niña plants were different strains altogether (though some may have similar genetic material), seeing as the original MM and Shantibaba’s growing operations were well over a decade apart.
Ultimately, Mullumbimby Madness is a strain that lives on in myth. Its properties were talked about all across the nation. Every pretender in Queensland and Northern New South Wales between 1976 and 1980 claimed they had access to the plant. As the years rolled on and genetic material degenerated, the term ended up as more of a marketing ploy; ‘Mullumbimby Madness’ was a moniker for the sizeable outdoor bushy sativa strains that continued to grow in abundance throughout the region. The quality of this bud is noticeably variable, and it has no single source for genetic material.
If you’re looking to hunt down some Mullum Madness these days, you may be out of luck. Still, the large bushy sativas that have grown in the fertile land of NNSW for over 150 years still stand up to the best dope in the world. The region has become a mecca for cannabis in Australia. Resisting the popularisation of Indica and hybrid strains in the 90’s, these outdoor grows are quite unique. The plants themselves are huge, hinting at their genetic throwback to Old Mother Sativa — a monster hemp plant once ubiquitous in the region. Today, the sativas often grow three times taller than your average human being. Indoor grows with many of these strains are basically unheard of, since only the brave would ever attempt it.
In the 21st Century, Mullum has once again been going totally mad. Locals are making new attempts at replicating Mullumbimby Madness in all of its mythological beauty. Australian sativa growers such as Kangativa, Shantibaba and Mullum Madman continue to cultivate new strains, breeding MM with hazier Indicas. Today, Yantra of Byron Bay distributes seeds for MM 2.0.
The link between these strains and MM is tenuous, but the stabilised 2.0 strain matches many characteristics of 1970’s Madness.