Macleay Valley Coast Visitor Guide

Arts, Culture and Heritage

 The Macleay Valley Coast is much more than a picturesque landscape of beaches and rainforests – dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a thriving arts culture and rich heritage.

This region has a fascinating cultural history that began with its first inhabitants, the Dunghutti people. Local indigenous culture remains strong, and various sacred and ceremonial sites are still used around the region. The Dunghutti-Ngaku Aboriginal Art Gallery houses a permanent and ever-changing exhibition of local indigenous art that reflects the beautiful relationship between the people and their environment.

Tucked away in our villages are galleries and cultural centres that allow you to experience exhibitions by local, national and even international artists. The Macleay Valley Community Art Gallery in Gladstone is a great place to view the latest emerging artists. Across the road, the Old Lodge Gallery Emporium houses a carefully curated collection of local art whilst The Hub is home to a variety of artisan studios.

The Macleay Valley’s newest attraction, the Slim Dusty Centre and Museum in South Kempsey invites you to experience the history of country music icon Slim Dusty. The centre also houses a large multipurpose room and regularly hosts touring art exhibitions and performances.

Markets are a great way to discover the local arts and crafts scene. Kempsey Riverside Markets and the Gladstone Quality Market are the largest markets, attracting crowds once a month who look forward to live music, great coffee and new finds. Horseshoe Bay and Crescent Head markets are popular with locals and visitors alike, and reflect the unique culture of their towns.

Live music fans will love Kempsey’s Oddfellows Club, which regularly hosts visiting musicians in an intimate hall setting. You can also check out the live music line-up at any one of our local hotels or taverns that regularly feature the latest up-and-coming local musicians.

Visit Crescent Head and you’ll see the telegraph poles that have been painted by a local street artist, and the Melbourne-esque murals that cover the Blackfish café. Poke around the shops in Kempsey and you’ll stumble upon the Makas Art Gallery, an initiative of local artists that is run entirely by volunteers. Art on the Macleay Valley Coast is not confined to museums and galleries – it’s a way of life.

Macleay Valley Art Trail

The Macleay Valley Arts Trail is a collective of artists throughout the Macleay Valley region who open their galleries and studios to visitors. The Arts Trail guides you through some of the most beautiful countryside on the mid-North coast of Australia, where you can discover local artists, visit their studios and galleries, watch demonstrations and be inspired to try new crafts. Those wanting to enhance their creative skills can register for a range of workshops –  with lessons in acrylic and oils, silk painting, drawing and sketching, skateboard-deck art, street art stenciling plus much more! Workshop brochures and maps of the Art Trail are available in visitor centres, cafes and at the Macleay Valley Community Art Gallery or online at:


Artist | Pat Indo

Small towns are not often known for cutting-edge street art, but artist Pat Indo has made Crescent Head is the exception to the rule.

Pat grew up in Sydney, studying graphic design and working for various advertising agencies and magazines before finding his true calling.

“I got into textile design and from there the art started flowing,” he says. “When I moved into a house with no paintings I decided to create my own and it just went from there.”

Pat’s distinctive style attracted the attention of corporations like ING Direct and Saatchi & Saatchi. Commissions followed and he was invited to be a guest speaker at Vivid Sydney.

During a surfing trip to Crescent Head, Pat met his partner, Kylie, a teacher in Kempsey. He moved to Crescent Head to be with her two years ago, and despite initial reservations about leaving Sydney, he hasn’t looked back.

“Crescent Head is a really supportive community for an artist,” he says. “I painted the street poles and it’s changed the town – people love it.”

The artist finds inspiration in the natural environment and surfing culture that surrounds the village.

“I love Point Plomer – there’s something mystical about that place,” he says. “I love surfing there and spending time just being there. I feel like the people here are really connected to nature. I also love the fact that the indigenous culture is still very strong.”

Pat has been given free rein to create ever-changing murals on the walls of The Blackfish Cafe, an exchange that has benefited both the artist and the café’s owner, Justyn Hope.

“Justyn just loves art and we both have a similar vision of what we want to create in this town,” Pat says. “People say they feel like they’re in Melbourne when they sit down here. That’s the impact that art can have on a town.”


macleay valley coast visitor guide