MUCH LOVED: Paul Joseph with his son Willow Neilson in 2012.
MUCH LOVED: Paul Joseph with his son Willow Neilson in 2012. The Northern Star

Farewell to a founding father of the Aquarius Festival

ONE of the founding fathers of the Aquarius Festival movement in Nimbin, Paul Joseph, has passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Tributes have flown thick and fast for the Rainbow Region's colourful character.

Aquarius Festival organiser Graeme Dunstan said he first met Paul Joseph when he travelled to the North Coast in search of a site for the 1973 festival.

"We sat down and talked about this vision we had for the festival and he seemed to be thinking along similar lines," he said.

"He literally rolled up his mat and hopped in the car and came away with us and became part of this festival entourage.

"The role he was to play was song man, but he was much more than a performer. He was a visionary of what was possible."

Mr Dunstan said his long-time friend was the driving force behind a permanent site to build a new-age community in Nimbin.

"After the festival, he called a meeting in the Nimbin hall about establishing a commune, which became Tuntable Falls," he said.

"Eventually we acquired it thanks to Paul's entrepreneuring."

Lismore City councillor Simon Clough said Mr Joseph was an extraordinary human being he had the privilege of knowing for more than 40 years.

He said he first met Mr Joseph at the Nimbin Aquarius Festival in 1973 and together they worked on a number of collaborative projects.

"He's just been an extraordinary human being in so many ways, in politics, in music, in leadership, and always coming from a place of extraordinary heart and love for the earth and all her creatures," Cr Clough said.

"He was an extraordinary musician, composer; he was capable of inspiring people through his music both at the Aquarius festival and at Terania.

"He'll be remembered for as long as people sit around talking stories about people's work protecting the environment, which will hopefully be for a very long time."

In April this year, Mr Joseph said his Aquarius Songman performance at the Nimbin Bush Theatre may well be his "own final performance" since his stage 4 lung cancer had metastasised into his lymph system.

Surrounded by friends and family, he described the April 11 performance as the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.

"I have been overwhelmed with the love and support received from so many old and new friends and am so grateful for the help and real kindness I have received in my healing journey," he said at the time.