Kempsey Local History
Located on the banks of the Macleay River in the Mid North Coast region of New South Wales, Kempsey is a town steeped in rich local history. The area was originally inhabited by the Dunghutti people, who were actively engaged with the land, hunting and gathering resources from the surrounding forests and rivers.
The town was established in the mid-19th century, with the arrival of European settlers. The first European to explore the region was John Oxley, who travelled along the Macleay River in 1818. The first settlers arrived in the area in the 1830s, using the river as a means of transport and communication. The town itself was named after British civil servant, Edward Kemp, who served as the civil commissioner of the Crown Lands Office in Sydney.
The town grew rapidly in the late 1800s, as the area became a hub for timber milling and agriculture. The region was known for its fertile soils and favourable climate, which allowed farmers to grow a variety of crops including corn, wheat, and sugar cane. The Macleay River also provided a plentiful source of fish and oysters, which were harvested by local Indigenous groups and European settlers alike.
Like many towns, Kempsey also had its share of challenges. In the early 1900s, the town was hit by a devastating flood that destroyed homes and crops, causing widespread damage throughout the region. Despite this setback, the town was rebuilt and continued to prosper throughout the 20th century.
One of the most significant events in the town's history occurred in 1966, when the legendary Australian country music star Slim Dusty released his hit single "The Pub With No Beer". The song was based on a real-life event that took place in the nearby town of Taylors Arm, where the local pub ran out of beer. The song became a local anthem and put Kempsey firmly on the map as a centre for Australian country music.
Throughout the decades, Kempsey has continued to flourish. Today, the town is home to a thriving community of locals, as well as a number of tourists who come to explore the area's rich history and natural beauty. From the spectacular beaches and national parks to the bustling markets and cultural events, there is always something to see and do in Kempsey.
Many of the town's historic buildings and landmarks still stand, providing a glimpse into Kempsey's past. The Kempsey Museum, housed in a restored railway station, showcases the town's history through a collection of artefacts and memorabilia. The Wigay Aboriginal Cultural Park is another popular attraction, offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Dunghutti people and their rich cultural heritage.
In conclusion, Kempsey is a town with a fascinating local history that is deeply intertwined with the wider history of Australia. From its Indigenous peoples to its intrepid European settlers, the town has been shaped over the centuries by the people and events that have passed through its doors. Today, Kempsey remains a vibrant and thriving community that is proud of its past and excited about its future.