Cedar cutting is the principal industry on which Kempsey has prospered since its foundation in the early 19th Century. Visit historic Trial Bay Gaol at South West Rocks and the Wigay Aboriginal Culture Park. Just out of town, Gladstone is highlighted by The Old Lodge Pottery and Darkwater House, which serves afternoon tea and sells local handicrafts. Within Kempsey itself, shopping, accommodation and all the benefits of a mid sized country town make it the perfect stopover point on a trip up the Pacific Highway.
Kempsey is the home of the iconic Akubra hat and also the site of Australia's longest road bridge. The Macleay Valley is the birthplace of Slim Dusty with Kempsey being the site of the yet to be completed Slim Dusty Centre.