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.
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.
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.