Macleay Valley Coast


Bellbrook township is heritage listed as it is an excellent example of an early 1900′s timber getting town. A visit to the town is a must for all country music fans and the old mountain village is only about an hour’s scenic drive up river from Kempsey.  It is home to one of Australia’s all-time country music greats, Slim Dusty. Pay a visit to his homestead, near Bellbrook, where you’ll see for yourself the source of his inspiration.

To find Slim Dusty’s childhood home at Nulla Nulla, drive north across the Kempsey Traffic Bridge and veer left at the first set of traffic lights into Belgrave St. Drive across the railway crossing, straight ahead at two roundabouts and veer to the right into River St.

Follow the signs to Bellbrook as River St transitions into Armidale Rd. Just before you reach Bellbrook township, turn right into Nulla Nulla Creek Rd. Slim’s childhood home is about 2km past the bitumen, on the left. Although the home is closed to the public, an interactive display at the front traces his rise to stardom where it attracts a steady stream of visitors.

Return to the Armidale Rd, turn right towards Bellbrook and wander back in time at this Heritage-listed village.

It’s not hard to see where these musical talents drew their inspiration. This is mountain country at its best. Babbling clear creeks and deep valleys, thick timber forest and the distinctive call of bellbirds, Bellbrook is surrounded by incredible natural beauty.

Cedar cutters and timber getters settled the area, and today their legacy has been lovingly preserved in this historic township which is still dominated by the original timber buildings along the wide main street.

Add to my itineraryView on map

Crescent Head

The area of Crescent Head has some of the best beaches along The Legendary Pacific Coast.  Discover these coastal hideaways just a short drive from the Pacific Highway.

Malibu boards, kids on bikes, soft serve ice cream and the bowling club. Unlike some of Australia’s other world famous surf breaks, Crescent Head – a nationally protected Surfing Reserve – still has all the charm of coastal towns of yesteryear.  The areas takes in Killick Beach, Goolawah Beach, Delicate Beach and Barries Beach/Point Plomer.  See our Legendary Surfing Safari for more details on these beaches as they are considered to have one of Australia’s!

With four sets of reef breaks, pristine beaches, the protection of 60km of National Park and the most cracking cold milkshakes (made like they used to be), the only question is what are you waiting for? Pack up the Kombi, throw in the kids – there’s plenty of quiet spots to keep them happy too – and come on down.



Add to my itineraryView on map


Now a quiet town with the Kempsey by-pass completed, be sure to stop in for the famous Frederickton’s “Fredo Pies” .  They are popular with travellers as it’s just a quick turn off the highway, and definitely worth the stop – try the famous croc pie.

Situated on a hill overlooking the Macleay River, Frederickton was once a private town named after Frederick Chapman, and has a history of shipbuilding, timber getting and agriculture. Its charming old homes and nine-hole golf course are a drawcard, but it’s the pies that keep everyone coming back.

From the park take in views of the Macleay River and Australia’s longest Bridge, which is part of the Frederickton – Kempsey Bypass.

Add to my itineraryView on map


The quaintest little village along the Macleay River, Gladstone beckons those who love heritage, history and funky finds. With 19 beautifully preserved buildings, art galleries, specialty shops and cafes, Gladstone is a must visit while you’re in the Macleay.

The famous Heritage Hotel of Gladstone has gorgeous river views and a great family friendly menu. And don’t miss the famous Gladstone Quality Markets on the 3rd Sunday of every month from 9am to 2pm opposite the Hotel. Brimming with local food, art, craft and locals who are passionate about their wares, the market regularly attracts a big crowd to this usually quiet riverside village.

Add to my itineraryView on map

Grassy Head

Get yourself to Grassy Head to discover one of the Macleay Valley Coast’s unspoilt gems. Grassy Head is a great holiday spot for families, thanks to its abundance of fish and birdlife, kilometres of white sandy beaches and dense, natural bushland. The headland itself offers a beautiful view of the Macleay Valley Coast.

The beach has gentle waves, is safe for swimming and is patrolled during the school holidays, excluding winter. The rainforests of the Way Way State Forest and Pines Picnic Area are just behind Grassy Head, and there is 4-Wheel Drive tracks within the Way Way State Forest and Yarriabini National Park for those seeking adventure.

Add to my itineraryView on map

Hat Head

Funny name. Serious beauty. Nestled within the dense, natural bushland of Hat Head National Park, the beachside village of Hat Head boasts a crystal clear creek that opens onto stunning beaches. Kids will love swimming in the gentle waves, or take them snorkelling at high tide in the pristine waters of Korogoro Creek.

Korogoro Creek can also be explored by surf ski, paddle board or kayak. But, fishing is the main game in these here parts, and with the deep waters of the continental shelf only 11 miles offshore, you’re in with a good chance of catching the big one while you’re here. There’s access to a boat ramp and even a fish cleaning area to help you prepare your catch after a successful day.

Add to my itineraryView on map


The major service centre of the Macleay Valley Coast, Kempsey is an eclectic blend of old world charm and a thriving regional river town. Where else can you visit a world renowned Glenn Murcutt designed building by day (our own Visitor Information Centre!) and then head to a wild, rocking rodeo by night?

Kempsey is Akubra country, home of the iconic Australian hat brand, and the country spirit permeates the town – despite the Pacific Ocean being only 15 minutes away.

Wander along the banks of the mighty Macleay River which runs through the city’s heart, dine at the award winning River Café at grand Netherby House, spend an afternoon seeking out your favourite vintage treasure in one of the antique and old wares stores, or discover our native foods in the Wigay Aboriginal Cultural Park.  Kempsey is full of rich experiences just waiting to be uncovered.

Add to my itineraryView on map


Boating. It’s what river folk do and at Smithtown you’ll see all kinds of vessels entering and exiting the mighty Macleay River at the boat ramp. It’s the hub of Macleay River life.

Get out there on the water yourself, or settle back over a cold beer and bite to eat at Smithtown’s famous and awarded Riverview Hotel to watch the boats glide by.

Once a thriving centre of manufacturing and the original home to Milo, Smithtown has now become a nostalgic riverside village with historic art deco buildings dotting its main street.

Add to my itineraryView on map

South West Rocks

South West Rocks is the jewel of the Macleay Valley Coast with a variety of accommodation options for visitors and all you need is available within the town.  From here you can dive with local operators, and explore the variety of dining and leisure options.  The spectacular Arakoon National Park offering recreational opportunities including swimming, boating, fishing, walking tracks and beachfront camping is a short drive from the town where the heritage listed Trial Bay Gaol (1886) provides a unique insight into our history, and is surrounded by rocky foreshores and pleasant sandy beaches.

Wander through the museum, explore the ruins or relax on the beach. You can take a stroll over Monument Hill to the Little Bay picnic area, or enjoy the spectacular half-day walk from the picnic area to historic Smoky Cape Lighthouse in Hat Head National Park. Around the gaol there are picnic areas and facilities for car-based and caravan camping, and you can stay at secluded Little Bay Cottage. There’s an entry fee to the gaol and museum with guided tours available in holiday periods and Trial Bay Gaol opening hours are 9am – 4:30pm 7 days a week.

North of Kempsey, follow the Pacific Highway follow signs to South West Rocks and Trial Bay Gaol which is a leisurely 35 minute drive.  From the town of Kempsey, just before the bridge over the Macleay River, follow the signs along the tourist drive through the village of Gladstone to South West Rocks.

Add to my itineraryView on map

Stuarts Point

Stuarts Point is a quiet, riverside village situated on the arm of the Macleay River as it empties into the Pacific Ocean. If you have a boat or love your fishing, this place is a dream come true. There is a boat ramp and mooring available, and an almost unlimited choice of beach and river fishing spots.

A quaint timber footbridge allows you to cross the river and walk through the sand dunes to access the beach. If you fancy exploring a little further afield you can take an easy walk all the way to Grassy Head to see the former mouth of the Macleay River.  Walk along the river or (alternatively) along the beach and over the headland. Both walks take about an hour.

Add to my itineraryView on map