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The town of Kempsey is situated close to the coastline of New South Wales, just a 16-kilometre drive from stunning beaches. Kempsey is the heart of the Macleay Valley Coast, and is set on the banks of the Macleay River. The town is surrounded by national parks on every side, giving you a wide range of beautiful drives to take in your rental car. In the town you will find everything you need for your travels, with a wide range of dining, including fine dining and casual pub meals, offering the fantastic produce of the region. In addition, you will find a range of shopping with boutique shops lining the main streets of Kempsey downtown.
Kempsey has a long Indigenous and colonial history. You will find Aboriginal art galleries and cultural parks in Kempsey, where you can learn about the history of the Thungutti and Dunghutti people and how they have lived on the site for thousands of years.
Kempsey’s streets are lined with heritage buildings that stretch back to colonial Australia. Drive down the main centre of Kempsey and take in all the heritage-listed and national trust buildings. Then, drive 15-minutes north of Kempsey to Gladstone and Smithtown to take in even more heritage and historic buildings. Of course, the heritage buildings are worth visiting inside as well, with many of them now transformed into art galleries, shopping boutiques and restaurants.
Take in multiple sites in one with the Val Melville Centre in South Kempsey. Inside, you will find the Macleay River Historical Society’s Museum, the information centre and the Dunghutti Ngaku Aboriginal Art Gallery. Award-winning architect Glenn Murcutt designed the centre. The art gallery showcases works from both established and emerging Aboriginal artists. See the permanently housed exhibitions as well as touring exhibitions. There is also the option to purchase works from the artists and take home a one-of-a-kind artwork as a keepsake from your trip.
The Slim Dusty Centre is also in the same area as the Val Melville Centre, named after famed Australian music artist Slim Dusty, who hailed from Kempsey. The site is a multipurpose building, including a Slim Dusty Museum; you might also find a travelling exhibition that is exhibited during your time in Kempsey.
Yarriabini National Park is just 40 minutes north of Kempsey. With dense rainforest, trickling creeks and incredible views, the Yarriabini National Park is a worthwhile day trip. Filled with hiking trails and picnic areas, packing a lunch is always a good idea. You can drive through Way Way Creek Drive, an excellent use for your rental car inside the park. The 17-kilometre loop takes in the best sites of the park. See the wildflowers, trees and creeks from your window before stopping at The Pines Picnic area to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the park.
Smaller, but just a 5-minute drive from Kempsey is the Wigay Aboriginal Culture Park. The 2.75-hectare site showcases Aboriginal culture, including food and plant uses. You can wander around the park in your own time as well and take in the information through the signs dotted through the park.
Other national parks within driving distance of Kempsey are the Maria National Park or the Hat Head National Park that sits on the coast and Kumbatine National Park. You can also drive to many other coastal towns and enjoy their attractions before returning to Kempsey. The coast of New South Wales is one of the most cultural and naturally rich places on earth and offers the perfect excuse to get out and drive and enjoy the scenery of Australia.