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Historic Kempsey This is a service town and consequently the important buildings in the town tend to be public utilities like the National Australia Bank building (now a liquor barn) and the Post Office.
The most interesting historical buildings in the town are located near the railway line in West Kempsey.
Kempsey was named after Kempsey in the Severn Valley, Worcestershire, England. Innes, who at the time was the commandant at Port Macquarie.
It was first settled by Europeans, as was common through most of the New South Wales north coast, by cedar cutters who moved into the area in the late 1820s. He sent a cedar cutting party to the Macleay River in 1827.
Kempsey (including Gladstone) Central town on the mid north coast with access to many delightful coastal retreats.
At various times beef, sugar cane (it failed), maize and dairy cattle have formed the basis of the valley's rural economy. The valley was ideal dairy country and Kempsey was sustained by the dairy industry until the 1970s.
By the mid-1850s the government had established West Kempsey but the growth of the town was slow. It was around this time that there was a very conscious effort to develop a secondary industry base for the town and in 1974 Akubra, now one of the most famous and distinctly Australian products, established their hat factory in the town.
The Court House is built in the Classical style with rendered pilasters and parapets. Nearby is the Post Office (in Belgrave Street) which is a fine example of High Victorian architecture. Gladstone 15 km to the northeast of the town is the tiny settlement of Gladstone which has a street appropriately named Memorial Avenue where there are markers beside all the trees recording the men from the village who were killed in World War II.
Gladstone is recognised as an historic village and its attractions include The Old Lodge Pottery (tel: (02) 6565 4366), Darkwater House which sells handicrafts and morning and afternoon teas (tel: (02) 6565 4479) and the Gladstone Hotel which claims to have the best beer on the Macleay River (tel: (02) 6565 4444).
Located 428 km north-east of Sydney on the Macleay River, Kempsey is a large and important rural centre which is a popular stopping point for people making the journey north along the Pacific Highway.