THE Macleay Valley has a long and rich history dating back many thousands of years, and according to Macleay River Historical Society president Phil Lee, there are still plenty of people interested in learning about it.
"People moving here from other regions, or the cities, often enquire about the land and the history of their new home," he said.
"It adds another dimension to living here, knowing the history of the area, from the time of the Aborigines to today.
"Since COVID-19 restrictions though, we have had fewer walk-ins and more people inquiring by email, or over the phone."
The Historical Society primarily does research, collects photos, and writes books on local history to ensure stories from the early days of the Macleay are preserved.
Membership is slowly starting to drop off, but Phil hopes numbers will begin to pick up again.
"Our numbers have seen a bit of decline, due to an aging population, but given the interest people have shown in local history, we hope to see a few new members at some point," he said.
"Members get some benefits, a quarterly journal, and a discount on any inquires and photos."
The Historical Society membership numbers might be down, but Phil says volunteers for Kempsey Museum are never in short supply.
"Kempsey Museum is one of the few that is open seven days a week; it's been that way ever since we opened; there has never been an issue finding volunteer staff," he said.
"It's an interesting place to work, and a nice setting, especially for anyone interested in history.
"The museum has three categories, a large collection of local historic artefacts, selected on the basis of their interest and relevance to the Macleay district, a Photographic Section with over 40,000 images on display, and a Research Department.
"We are also recognised as a kid-friendly Museum with displays like the working model sawmill, taxidermied animals and birds, schoolroom and 1914 Leyland Truck."
The Macleay River Historical Society was formed in the 1960s, when the old museum was located where Council Chambers currently sit in West Kempsey.
When two councils combined to create the current Kempsey Shire Council, the museum was sent packing in the 1970s.
The museum landed at its current location in South Kempsey, and was officially opened in 1983, with extensions added years later.
"The buildings were designed by famous Australian architect Glenn Murcutt," Phil said.
"Before COVID-19 restrictions, we used to get architect students from all over coming here to see the building designs."
Kempsey Museum is open seven days a week, 10am to 4pm ,and can be contacted at their location on Lachlan Street in South Kempsey, phone: 02 6562 7572 or via the details on their website.
They are registered as a COVID-safe venue.
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