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Kendall, NSW

Town named after a famous Australian poet. Henry Kendall. It calls itself "The Poet's Village".

Kendall is a quiet village located just off the Pacific Highway west of Camden Head and south-west of Port Macquarie. It is a hinterland town which is commonly bypassed by people on the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane. The area around the town, which is located in the Camden Haven River Valley, is characterised by lush farmlands and peaceful national parks.


Kendall is located just off the Pacific Highway, 357 km north-east of Sydney and 35 km south-west of Port Macquarie.


Origin of Name

It was originally known as Camden Heads as it is situated on the Camden Haven River but it was later renamed Kendall in 1891 to honour of poet Henry Kendall who lived in the area between 1875-1881.


Things to See and Do

Henry Kendall Statue
In 2007, 125 years after his death in 1882, a statue was erected to the memory of Henry Kendall on the corner of Comboyne and Orara Streets. Kendall had been a local resident (when the town was called Camden Haven) and, for a generation of Australian children, his romantic bush ballads had been part of their staple diet of Australian poetry. Most famous had been his poem Bellbirds:

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.
The town was renamed Kendall in 1891 in his honour.

Heritage Walk
There is a pleasant Heritage Walk around the town which passes a total of 16 places of interest although five of the locations are private residences. There is a brochure which can be obtained at the Kendall Community Centre. Of particular interest are the Anglican Church (built in 1889 and dedicated in 1902), the Kendall School of Arts, the Catholic Church (this brick church built in 1918 replaced a timber church which had been built in 1890), the Uniting Church (built of handmade bricks in 1915), the town's historic machinery display (the boiler from the locomotive used on the Longworth Logging Tramway from 1916-1929 and the flywheel from the diesel engine used at a timber mill at Bob's Creek), the old Camden Haven Co Op Store and the railway station. A map identifying the 16 places of historic interest around town can be downloaded at http://www.kendall.org.au/Documents/maphigh.pdf.

Leaves of Kendall
At the entry to the town are three sculptures of gum leaves. Titled the "Leaves of Kendall" they were designed and constructed by Kendall resident, Girikami Weissmann.


Other Attractions in the Area

A History of Henry Kendall
Kendall was befriended by the children of Peter Fagan, an early settler in the Gosford area. It is claimed that Charles Fagan encountered Kendall as a tramp on the roadside. Kendall had been dragged into poverty by a combination of supporting a drunken mother and brother, a disastrously married sister and a difficult wife; by the deaths of three close friends and supporters (including the suicide of Adam Lindsay Gordon) and by the death of his daughter, for which he felt terrible guilt as he put it down to malnutrition. Increasingly dependent upon alcohol and opium his wife left him and he went insane. It was after his release from a mental asylum that the Fagans encountered him. With their help he was returned to health, employment, his family, writing and publishing. The Fagan family took him under their wing and, in 1875, he was sent to work in their store at what was then Camden Heads. There his wife rejoined him and he returned to physical and mental health.
While in Camden Heads he composed topical and political skits for the press and, in 1879, wrote the words for the cantata to be sung at the Sydney International Exhibition. He also won 100 guineas for an occasional poem in celebration of the same event. Kendall's third volume of verse, Songs From the Mountains (1880) was his first financial success, selling a record number of copies in the first two months. The following year he left Kendall as Henry Parkes obtained for him an inspectorship of State Forests but the work proved damaging to his health and he collapsed and soon died in 1882. He was only 43.
Despite critical success with his poetry, Kendall was troubled by poverty, depression, family problems and alcoholism in the late 1860s and early 1870s. He was found not guilty of forging a cheque on the grounds of insanity in 1870 and his wife moved in with her brothers. Kendall become a homeless derelict and dipsomaniac and, after a nervous breakdown, he wound up in an institution where he regained some equilibrium.

Middle Brother National Park
The primary appeal of Middle Brother National Park is that with "Bird Tree" and "Benaroon" it has two of the largest Blackbutt trees in New South Wales.
It is located to the south of Kendall, on the slopes of Middle Brother Mountain which rises 556 m above sea level. Amusingly, and with a lack of imagination, Captain James Cook named the three mountains - Middle Brother, North Brother and South Brother when he saw them as he sailed up the coast in 1770.
The shortest way to reach the trees in the park is to head east from Kendall and turn left (south) into Batar Creek Road which leads to Stoney Creek Road which runs along the western edge of the forest. Then turn right into Grey Gum Ridge Road. 11 km from Kendall there is a walking track which leads to Bird Tree Picnic Area.
From the picnic area it is a 400 metre walk to two of the state's largest blackbutts - the 'Bird Tree' (69 metres tall, 3.6 metres in diameter and a girth of 11 metres - it is estimated to be at least 300 years old) and 'Benarkin' (64 metres tall and 4.1 metres in diameter). There is a 10 minute walking trail which leads off at the road junction nearby.
If you continue south along Grey Gum Ridge Road it eventually becomes TV Road and off TV Road is the peak of Middle Brother Mountain where there is a TV transmitter and a fire lookout. From the summit there are panoramic views over the Camden Haven River Valley. To the east one can see the coastline of Crowdy Bay, to the north-east is North Brother Mountain, to the north are the tree-lined slopes of Broken Bago Bluff near Wauchope, to the north-west is Comboyne Peak, capped by a fire lookout, and to the south it is possible to see the river flats of the Manning Valley. For more information check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/middle-brother-national-park.

Coopernook Forest Drive
Coopernook Forest Drive passes through the Coopernook, Lansdowne and Comboyne State Forests, following Stewarts River. It is well signposted with brown-and-white signs and is suitable for 2WD vehicles in dry weather.
The drive includes Coopernook Forest Park, Vincents Lookout (330 metres above sea-level), Newbys Creek Walk, Newbys Lookout, Starrs Creek Picnic Area, Big Nellie Mountain (a 560-metre volcanic plug), Flat Rock Lookout (overlooking a dramatic drop into the valley floor) and the charming, if small, Waitui Falls where it is possible to swim and there are picnic facilities. There is a map and a large number of exceptional images of the drive at https://www.flickr.com/photos/blackdiamondimages/sets/72157603804163611.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area around Kendall was home to the Birpai people.

* When Captain Cook sailed up the coast in 1770 he noted the three mountains in the area and named them, rather unimaginately, North Brother, Middle Brother and South Brother.

* By 1856 cedar was being exported from the area through Camden Haven.

* A mill was built near the present day site of Kendall in the 1860s by a Mr Perrett.

* The district was surveyed in 1872 to determine an economic route for the railway line.

* Henry Kendall lived and worked in the village from 1875-1881.

* Henry Kendall died in 1882.

* In 1883 Crown Land around Port Macquarie was "set aside for sale for preservation and the growth of timber".

* By the 1880s dairying was becoming a major industry in the area.

* The Anglican Church was dedicated in 1889.

* The Kendall School of Arts was opened in 1908 on Crown Land dedicated for the purpose.

* The railway reached Kendall on 12 April 1915. The Uniting Church was dedicated the same year.

* The Kendall War Memorial was dedicated in 1919.

* By 1939 there were still bullock teams being used to haul logs to Camden Haven.

* By the 1950s there were 200-300 dairy farms operating within a 30 km radius of Kendall.

* The Kendall Pool was opened in 2004.


Visitor Information

Kendall Community Centre, 19 Comboyne Street, Kendall, tel: (02) 6559 0025.


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://www.kendall.org.au.

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  • Michael Fagan [1837 – 1912] also lived in Kendall when it was known as Camden Haven / refer to obituaries Australia / he came to Kendall [as now known] to represent his family’s timber interests / he first came to the district around 1873 and lived in Kendall until his death in 1912 / so it was not only Henry Kendall that lived in Kendall , but one of the earliest pioneers == the fagans who built COORANABEAN at Brisbane Water – Gosford == now known as Henry Kendall’s cottage.

    david lockyer