Aussie Kempsey is just like ours

VISIT: From left, Mark Morrison,  MacLeay Vocational College principal; Richard O’Leary, MacLeay Regional Co-operative chief executive; Belinda Fowler, MVC bursar; and Dr Chris Cooper.

VISIT: From left, Mark Morrison, MacLeay Vocational College principal; Richard O’Leary, MacLeay Regional Co-operative chief executive; Belinda Fowler, MVC bursar; and Dr Chris Cooper.

First published in News by

IT’S a notion that would probably go down well with the residents of its namesake in the UK.

For the Australian version of the Worcestershire village of Kempsey, which lies just south of Worcester, sits at the heart of Kempseyshire, a district of about 30,000 people in the state of New South Wales.

Recently returned from Kempsey – the one 10,500 miles away not the one three miles down the road from his home in Battenhall, Worcester – is lecturer Dr Chris Cooper, a specialist in co-operatives and social enterprises.

“I’ve been to Australia about half-a-dozen times before, but the first time I’d been to Kempsey,” he said. “It was interesting to see it has got something in common with its Worcestershire counterpart – flooding. Kempsey, New South Wales sits on the banks of the MacLeay River, which is famed for its flooding to the extent that many local buildings have been raised up on stilt structures to keep them above the rising water. They are much better prepared to cope with floods than we are. They most damaging recent floods were in 2001 and 2009.”

The Australian Kempsey was founded in the 1830s by Enoch Rudder, who was originally from Kempsey in Worcestershire. He was attracted to the area in 1834 by the opportunity to cultivate and process cedar. He bought 812 acres of land in 1836 for the sum of five shillings an acre.

Kempsey is now a vibrant town with about 12,000 residents. Among its most famous names are country and western singer Slim Dusty and 2012 Paralympic gold medal winner Amy Winters.

Dr Cooper’s lecture tour in Australia covered the contribution of co-operatives to the local, regional and global economy. It took in much of the country’s east coast as he travelled from Brisbane, via Port Macquarie and Sydney to Melbourne.

He said: “During my time in Kempsey I met many residents and in particular Kempsey’s first ‘people-elected’ mayor Mrs Liz Campbell. They all sent their best wishes for the new year to the residents of Kempsey in the UK.”

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