Monday, 06 April 2020 Sydney

Visit, Live & Invest in Kempsey Shire::

Kempsey and the surrounding Macleay Valley was first inhabited by the Dunghutti people. Kempsey’s first white settler was Enoch William Rudder. In 1836, he surveyed the land for a private town and named it Kempsey as the countryside reminded him of Kempsey in Worcestershire, England. Settlers were drawn to the area in search of the rich stands of cedar and rosewood.


Today, Kempsey is the commercial heart of the Macleay River valley and home to that famous Australian icon, the Akubra hat. Kempsey is a progressive town with a strong sense of community. Three historic walks, one each of West, Central and East Kempsey, have been devised to help people explore the town. Copies of the brochures are available from the Museum in the South Kempsey Park.


Visitor Information Centre, KempseyVisitor Information Centre, Kempsey


Many of Kempsey’s sons and daughters (or adopted sons and daughters) have achieved fame in their lifetime and brought great credit to the Macleay Valley. Slim Dusty, arguably Australia’s greatest country music performers, was born and raised west of Kempsey at Nulla Nulla Creek. His childhood home still stands surrounded by the magnificent scenery made famous in song by Slim and his childhood mate, Shorty Ranger.


Widely read author, Thomas Kenneally, spent most of his youth in Kempsey. His book, A River Town, is based in Kempsey in the early 1900’s and a plaque commemorating his links with the district can be seen outside Chaddies Store in East Kempsey where he lived.


Thomas KenneallyThomas Kenneally, author


World acclaimed architect, Glenn Murcutt, designed the Kempsey Cultural Centre in South Kempsey. This award winning building which houses the Visitor Information Centre and historical museum, is visited by thousands of architects from all over the world each year. The museum and settlers cottage have also won awards; ever changing displays and collections tell the story of the valley’s past and there is an active family history group and a research centre attached to the museum.


One collection that has received national attention is Angus McNeil’s glass negatives. Angus was a prolific photographer in the area from the late 1890’s through to the 1950’s. His legacy, over 250,000 glass negatives, provides an enviable photographic record of people, places and events in the Macleay Valley. And even Tommy Woodcock, Phar Lap’s strapper, spent his youth west of Kempsey at Uralgurra and Bellbrook.


Wigay Cultural ParkWigay Cultural Park


Aboriginal heritage and culture are very much a part of Kempsey today. The museum has an excellent display of aboriginal artefacts and an extensive file on local aboriginal studies. Visitors can wander through a traditional food tree park, buy authentic aboriginal art and craft or see bora rings, fish traps and middens.


One of Australia’s finest aboriginal artists, the late Robert Campbell Junior, lived and painted in Kempsey. His works hang in the National Gallery in Canberra, and in galleries in London, Italy, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. The valley is also home to many other talented artists and craftsmen and their work is displayed in galleries throughout the area. An information booklet, Handmade in the Macleay, gives an insight into these artists and craftsmen.



Shopping centres, restaurants, cafes and takeaways, 18 hole golf club, 2 bowling clubs, RSL club, 5 hotels, tennis courts, squash courts, gymnasiums, boat ramps, ten pin bowling alley, recreation centre, heated 5 pool swimming complex archery range; pistol, shotgun, big and small bore rifle ranges; community halls, movie theatre (open Friday to Monday only) horse racing track, greyhound track, churches; pre, infants, primary and secondary schools; full range of child care facilities; TAFE college; 110 bed hospital; Visitor Information Centre, picnic and barbecue spots, parks and lookouts.


View over Kempsey from lookoutView over Kempsey from lookout


Museum & settlers cottage, Angus McNeil glass negative collection, Wigay Cultural Park, art and craft galleries, cultural centre and Visitor Information Centre (Akubra video can be viewed here), Rudder Park Lookout, Euroka Lookout, Rudder Park, Riverside Park, heritage walks, freshwater fishing, canoeing, horseriding.

More information


Macleay Valley


Crescent HeadCrescent Head

428kms north of Sydney on the Pacific Highway.



Great natural beauty and a truly relaxed lifestyle – that sums up the Macleay Valley in a nutshell and makes it easy to understand why many visitors, after holidaying in the area, choose to move here permanently. The Kempsey Shire has a population of over 28,000 and is part of the Mid North Coast Region which is the fastest growing non-metropolitan area in NSW. As the population continues to grow, the need for additional services and facilities is always considered and planning for the future is well in hand.

Macleay RiverMacleay River



The Macleay River is at the heart of the Kempsey Shire as it carves its way from the mountains of the New England Plateau to the sea at South West Rocks. It rises as the Guyra River and merges with a number of tributaries including the Apsley, Chandler and Styx. The original mouth of the river was at Grassy Head however, during the 1893 flood, a new entrance was forced at South West Rocks.


There are boat ramps at Kempsey, Frederickton, Smithtown, Gladstone, Jerseyville, Stuarts Point, Fishermans Reach and at the New Entrance, near South West Rocks. Most types of water sports can be enjoyed and the river is one of the last strongholds of the native bass, popular with freshwater anglers. Small boats and canoes can be hired to explore the river.

Smith Street, KempseySmith Street, Kempsey


  • Town - 11,000
  • Shire - 28,000


  • 338,100 hectares
  • 3,381 sq. kilometres
Clyde Street Mall, KempseyClyde Street Mall,, Kempsey


2440 - Kempsey & most of the Shire
2431 - South West Rocks
2441 - Stuarts Point


Kempsey Station is 1.5 km west of Kempsey Post Office.

Visitor Information Centres

There are two Visitor Information Centres in the Kempsey Shire which are open seven days per week for your convenience. They are closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day.

Kempsey Visitor Information Centre

Kempsey Visitor Information CentreKempsey Visitor Information Centre


South Kempsey Park,
Lachlan Street (Macleay Valley Way),
South Kempsey NSW 2440
PO Box 3078, West Kempsey NSW 2440

Open: 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm Saturday, Sunday & public holidays

Phone: 02 6563 1555
Fax: 02 6563 1537
Freecall: 1800 642 480

Beach, South West RocksBeach, South West Rocks

South West Rocks Visitor Information Centre

Ocean Drive
South West Rocks NSW 2431
Open 9am to 4pm daily
Phone - 02 6566 7099


Motels, hotels, caravan parks and camping grounds, self contained units and cottages, cabins, guesthouses, homestay and farmstay.

South West RocksSouth West Rocks



The original inhabitants of the Macleay Valley were the Dunghutti people. The first Native Title Claim in Australia was granted to the Dunghutti people at Crescent Head in 1997. The earliest European settlement was recorded in 1827 when Capt Innes established a cedar party north of Euroka Creek on the Macleay River.



Akubra Hats factoryAkubra Hats factory


Akuba Hats, Boral Bricks, Nestlé, Explosive Entertainment (previously known as Syd Howard Pyrotechnics) Australian Solar Timbers, Sherwood Wines, Farrawell Aluminium.


Beef, dairying, timber, maize, potatoes, bananas, fishing, prawning, oysters, deer, avocados, horticulture


Crescent Head boat rampCrescent Head boat ramp


Beach , country and aboriginal experiences.

Cottage industry

Arts, crafts, aboriginal artefacts.

Other statistics