Aboriginal culture & communities

Welcome to Thunggutti/Dunghutti country

We invite you to watch this video, which warmly welcomes you to Thunggutti/Dunghutti country. 

The Thunggutti/Dunghutti (also known as Dhanggati or Dainggatti) people have lived in the Macleay region for millennia, from the saltwater coastal areas to the freshwater country upstream and the mountain country to the west. 

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Learning Dhanggati language with Kempsey East Public School

The students of Kempsey East Public School visited Kempsey Shire Council to share their knowledge of some easy words and phrases in Dhanggati that we can all use.

Cultural heritage

Kempsey Shire’s Aboriginal cultural heritage is timeless, rich and diverse. It is not static but dynamic and living across landscapes, in towns and villages, in the homes and settlements of the community, and in the language and traditions the Elders keep.

Ancient sites are found across the region, from camp sites and boras through to landscape-scale sites such as the Stuarts Point-Clybucca Midden.

Contemporary places that document the impacts of colonisation on the Aboriginal community include the Kinchela Boys Home and the Mission sites at Burnt Bridge and Greenhill.

Aboriginal cultural heritage is also recorded in the works of Aboriginal artists – including the late Robert Campbell Junior, whose paintings are held by the National Gallery of Australia – and on the mural wall of Services Park in Kempsey, where younger Thunggutti/Dunghutti artists keep a visual record of their community. 

How Council works with the Aboriginal community

Kempsey Shire Council acknowledges the ongoing challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognises the importance of government and the community coming together to achieve the best possible outcomes for the future.

Council prioritises the cultural and social well-being of the Aboriginal community and their ongoing connection to Country. In developing local strategic plans, growth management strategies, economic development plans and other initiatives for the region, Council considers the Aboriginal community to be key stakeholders and is committed to culturally appropriate engagement and partnerships. 

Council projects and activities

  • Council has developed a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan(PDF, 2MB) using the Workplace Reconciliation Framework provided by Reconciliation Australia.
  • Council provides funding and support for NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week and National Sorry Day annual events and flies Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in front of the Council Chambers and Civic Centre offices in West Kempsey five days a week.
  • The community-affirmed Acknowledgement of Country is used in Council events and publications.
  • Dunghutti ‘Welcome to Nation’ signs have been erected on the Pacific Highway at both ends of the shire.
  • Council provided a 2020-21 community grant of $5000 to the Thunggutti Local Aboriginal Land Council for a playground at Bellbrook.
  • Council funded a Dunghutti language book through Macleay Vocational College in 2020.
  • In 2021, Council continues to work with the Thunggutti Local Aboriginal Land Council, Stuarts Point and District Community Organisation (SPADCO) and the Bellbrook and Stuarts Point communities to develop cultural projects in the spirit of Reconciliation.
  • Council has been granted funding under the Tourism Bushfire Recovery Program for the Nature Trails of the Macleay project, which will promote nature walks including local Aboriginal culture.

Local connections

You can meet local people and experience Thunggutti/Dunghutti culture through the following:

  • Use the Kempsey Community Directory to find out about the range of local community groups and organisations serving and supporting Indigenous people, including the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Land Council and the Thunggutti Local Aboriginal Land Council.
  • The Wigay Aboriginal Cultural Park in Dangar Street, Kempsey, is a place of great natural beauty where people gather for peaceful walks, educational activities and special events. The 2.75-hectare park features wetland, wet forest, woodland, rainforest and tropical plants. You can explore the park at your own pace or take a guided tour to learn more about Thunggutti/Dunghutti culture and traditional uses of plants for food and medicine.
  • Dunghutti-Ngaku Aboriginal Art Gallery in Kempsey offers works for sale by renowned Aboriginal artists who are represented in major public and private collections. Visitors can also buy works from emerging artists who live and work in the region.
  • The Barrunbatayi (Dreamtime) Memorial at East Kempsey Cemetery was created in 2006 in collaboration with Thunggutti/Dunghutti Elders and local community groups.
  • Corroboree Magic, a community-made mosaic, was unveiled during Reconciliation Week in 2021 on the Westpac Bank building in Kempsey, produced in partnership with a local artist, Elders and community organisations.
  • Kempsey Railway Station houses a memorial sculpture and plaque commemorating the Stolen Generations. This was a joint project between Aboriginal Elders, the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation and NSW TrainLink.
  • At Kempsey's Chappell Park, there is a memorial plaque and tribute to Dr Charles Perkins, who in 1965 led the Freedom Ride through NSW towns to highlight the living conditions and experiences of Aboriginal people.
  • There is a plaque commemorating the Stolen Generations in Kempsey Mall. 

More information