Macleay Valley Coast

On the beautiful Macleay Valley Coast explore the life of country music legend Slim Dusty, enjoy magnificent national parks and relax on uncrowded beaches. You can surf a famous point break and cave dive with a school of sharks. You’ll also discover fascinating indigenous and colonial heritage.

The Slim Dusty Centre is in Kempsey, the main town by the Macleay River where Akubra hats are made. The singer-songwriter and guitarist is an Australian cultural icon who grew up at Nulla Nulla Creek near Kempsey. Exhibitions and music memorabilia in the centre honour his stellar career.

Campsite by the Macleay River in Bellbrook, Macleay Valley Coast

Other wonderful attractions in Kempsey include the historical museum and the Dunghutti-Ngaku Aboriginal Art Gallery in a parkland building designed by award-winning architect Glenn Murcutt. You’ll be delighted, too, with a visit to Wigay Aboriginal Cultural Park, a tasty bush tucker garden.

The surrounding towns and villages including Crescent Head, Gladstone, South West Rocks, Stuarts Point, Willawarrin and Bellbrook are all within easy reach. Scenic drives are a memorable way to experience the charm of the region, such as the pretty riverside Heritage Hotel in the Gladstone.

From the hinterland to the sea, kayaking on the river is marvellous way to soak up the natural beauty of the region on the mid NSW North Coast. Fishing is popular too, whether casting a line upstream or in the Macleay estuary or from beaches and rocks in the seaside national parks.

Two bushwalkers exploring a headland, Hat Head National Park

In Arakoon National Park is the heritage-listed Trial Bay Gaol, which opened 1866 and served as an internment camp for people of German descent living in Australia in World War I. In adjacent Hat Head National Park is the 1891 Smoky Cape Lighthouse, a great vantage point for whale watching.

Crescent Head is a surfing mecca with one of the longest point breaks in Australia. There are gorgeous sandy beaches, too. You can learn to surf with Surfaris, which operates a surf camp in the laid-back coastal town. And the annual Malibu Classic in May draws surfers from around the world.

South West Rocks at the mouth of the Macleay River is also easy-going seaside town with stunning beaches. Two kilometres off South West Rocks is Fish Rock Cave, one of the best cave dives in the world and a haven for endangered grey nurse sharks, fearsome-looking yet harmless to humans.


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  1. Sunday Sessions featuring Delma and Pete

    Sunday 21 April 2019 to Sunday 18 August 2019 , Kempsey

    Delma and Pete each have decades of experience in more bands than either of them care to remember! And that means the duo can play almost anything, and that's exactly what they do with super smooth renditions of most of your all time…

    21 Apr - 18 Aug
  2. Crescent Head Malibu Classic

    Thursday 23 May 2019 to Sunday 26 May 2019 , Crescent Head

    Crescent Head Malibu Club presents the Crescent Head Malibu Classic at Killick Beach, Crescent Head. In the 1960s, longboarders surfing north along the coast found the home of one of the longest and most classic point breaks in the world…

    23 May - 26 May
  3. South West Rocks Running Festival

    Sunday 09 June 2019 , South West Rocks

    The South West Rocks Running Festival, formally the Macleay River Marathon, in its 35th year, is a scenic riverside run along the banks of the beautiful Macleay River and back to Trial Bay Gaol. It is held every year on the June long…

    09 Jun
  4. GermanFest

    Thursday 01 August 2019 , South West Rocks

    The Seabreeze Beach Hotel in South West Rocks will be turned into a Bavarian heaven once again for this year's 11 day GermanFest. GermanFest is a celebration of all things Bavarian including food, drink and entertainment with a special…

    01 Aug
  5. Sculpture in the Gaol

    Monday 05 August 2019 , South West Rocks

    For the duration of the event the historic grounds of Trial Bay Gaol will be transformed into a dramatic landscape filled with sculptures for this stunning exhibition. Why not also take the opportunity to read about the Gaol’s famous…

    05 Aug
  6. Sculpture in the Gaol - Opening Day

    Monday 05 August 2019 to Sunday 01 September 2019 , South West Rocks

    Sculptures in the Gaol exhibition will be on again this year. Trial Bay Gaol will once again be transformed into dramatic artistic landscape, with an abundance of sculptures to be displayed in the historic precinct. The Sculpture in the…

    05 Aug - 01 Sep