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Rylstone, NSW

Charming historic village surrounded by scenery of great beauty

Rylstone is genuinely charming and beautiful, historic village on the Cudgegong River. Located in an area of great beauty - Glen Davis (one of the most beautiful places in the Capertee Valley, Dunns Swamp and Lake Windamere are all easily accessible. The district is known for its wool, sheep, cattle,  wine and olives. With tourism being central to the local economy. The main appeal of the town lies in its historic buildings particularly in Louee Street. 


Rylstone is located 237 km north-west of Sydney, 56 km south-east of Mudgee, 99 km north of Lithgow and 590 m above sea-level.


Origin of Name

The original Aboriginal name for the area was Combamolang. There is no certainty about where "Rylstone" comes from. One theory claims that it was named after Rylstone in Yorkshire which a village near where the wool from the area  was sent. Another version is that it is corruption of "Ryle Stone" a weapon used by Scots.


Things to See and Do

Rylstone Heritage Walk
There is an excellent, and very detailed, Heritage Walk of the town which can be downloaded at http://rylstonekandos.com/see-do/rylstone-heritage-walk. It covers a total of 19 places of interest, many of which are notable for their warm, sandstone construction.

1. The School of Arts & Memorial Hall  
The School of Arts, which was built around 1910, was originally a library and centre for meetings. The 1926 Memorial Hall, which was built to commemorate people from the district who served in World War I, is located next door (the corner of Louee and Cudgegong Streets). Over the years the building has been used as the town’s picture theatre and as a Community Hall.

2. Jackson’s Corner 
Located on the corner of Louee and Cudgegong Streets and built by John Wesley Jackson these shops were originally constructed in stone. They were destroyed by fire in 1927 were erected on the foundations. Further down Cudgegong Street, the stone barn, by the Showground gate, and Jackson’s original house with slab walls tucked behind the shops on the north side, remain intact.

3. The Globe Hotel & Sample Room  
There is a debate about the age of the hotel. The sign on the awning proudly declares (circa 1855) but the Heritage Trail insists "In 1880 Mr Holland, an ex-saddler, and his father-in-law Mr Thomas Owen, an ex-policeman, built a sandstone hotel of 12 rooms. It was soon extended to accommodate the increased business brought by the railway in 1884." It has undergone considerable alteration with the entrances being changed in the 1930s. The Sample Room next door was constructed to provide a space for commercial travellers to display their wares to local storekeepers. The building has a very pleasant beer garden. It is located at 46-50 Louee Street.

4. St. Malachy’s Church  
Located at 40 Louee Street, St Malachy's Catholic Church was built in 1875 to replace an earlier, timber church. The church was built by Dean O'Donovan to cater for 19 families who provided their own seating. The soaring steeply pitched roof, ornate timber lace fretwork, masonary courses and Italianate bell tower give it great appeal. The architectural style is Victorian Gothic. The addition at the front was made in 1960 with stone from a private chapel on Monivae, a sheep and grazing property 20 km from Rylstone. The stained glass windows commemorate Mary and George Holland who owned the Globe Hotel and provided free accommodation for the priests who celebrated mass in the church. See https://www.communityheritage.net.au/st-malachys-catholic-church-rylstone for more details.

8. The Bridge View Inn
Located at 30 Louee Street, this elegant sandstone building was built in the early 1870s as a public house and hotel and is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Inventory. It was built for publican Goodwin Spires Hall and opened in 1872. In 1895 it became a bank and manager’s residence and was used as such until 1957. It was acquired by the Rylstone and District Historical Society in the 1960. The building can be booked as a B&B. Check out http://www.rylstonehistory.org.au/bridge-view-inn/bed-breakfast-bridge-view-inn for details.

9. James Nash House  
Located behind the Bridge View Inn and built for the local blacksmith, James Nash, this house, a simple weatherboard home dating from the 1890s, was moved from near the Showground in 1984. The building is now home to the Cottage Museum and the family history archives of Rylstone and District Historical Society. It is open Sundays 10.00 am - 3.00 pm. For more information check out http://www.rylstonehistory.org.au/cottage-museum.

10. Hall’s Corner   
These two impressive early cottages, which are located between the Cottage Museum and the Louee and Dabee Streets, were erected by Goodwin Spires Hall, who built the Bridge View Inn, to house his large family. Over the years they have been used by a number of businesses including a newsagency, bootmakers, garage, solicitor’s office and the Commonwealth Bank.

14. St James’ Church of England   
Located on the corner of Mudgee Street and Cudgegong Street, St James Church of England church was consecrated in 1864 and features impressive stained glass windows. It was one of the earliest Anglican churches west of the Blue Mountains. At the rear is a small slab building that functioned as both church and Rylstone’s first schoolhouse in the 1850’s.

15. Wesleyan Church
Located in Ilford Road, the Wesleyan Church was built in 1884 to serve the local Methodist community. When the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches combined it became the Uniting Church for the town. The building replaced the smaller sandstock brick Zion Chapel (1852, now demolished) that stood next to St. Andrews Church. A Temperance Hall (1874) once stood in the present roadway. The Federation period church manse, on the opposite corner, is of brick.

16. St. Andrews Church  
Located in Louee Street this tiny Presbyterian church was opened in 1902. It was closed after the formation of the Uniting Church and is now a private dwelling.

17. The Police Complex 
Located at 89 Louee Street, these buildings in the Police Complex date from 1875 to 1895, and consist of the Court House; the Constable’s House (with sandstone lock up and cells), the Sergeant’s House, and the sandstone slab stable at the rear. The rear of the Constable’s House houses the current Police Station, and the Court House is still in use.

18. The Post Office 
Located in Louee Street, the Post Office was built in 1880 and operated continuously until 2007. A postal service to Rylstone was established as early as 1850. When the building was completed it had a separae Post Office and Telegraph Office and there was a residence for the postmaster on the right hand side of the building.

19. The Shire Hall  
Located next to the Post Office in Louee Street, the Rylstone Shire Hall was erected in 1913 and extended in the 1970s. The Rystone Shire was formed in 1906 until 2004 when it became part of the Mid- Western Regional Council. 


Other Attractions in the Area

Windamere Dam
Windamere Dam, on the Cudgegong River, is located about 32 km north-west of Kandos and 13 km beyond Cudgegong Waters Park. It was completed in 1984 "to meet irrigation, stock and domestic needs in the Cudgegong Valley". The main attractions of the Dam and Lake are camping (with cabins and caravan sites), water sports (skiing, sailing, canoeing, swimming) and fishing (the lake is stocked with golden perch, Murray cod, silver perch and catfish). The lake covers 20 square kilometres with a total capacity of 368.12 gigalitres. The wall of the dam is 825 metres long and 67 metres high. For more information check out http://www.waternsw.com.au/supply/visit/windamere-dam.
Cudgegong Waters Park, located just off the Mudgee Road at the southern end of the dam, has the only boat ramp onto Windamere Dam as well as cabins, campsites, barbecue areas, on-site caravans, a concrete boat ramp and a kiosk selling bait, lures, ice, groceries and petrol. For more information check out http://www.cudgegongwatersparkwindameredam.com.

Dunns Swamp
Located 30 km west of Kandos on the Dabee Road, Dunns Swamp Ganguddy, which was originally built to provide water for the Kandos Cement Works. Located on the banks of the Cudgegong River and nestled amongst stunning sandstone pagoda rock formations, Dunns Swamp Ganguddy is home to over 107 bird species and with a number of walking tracks it offers an excellent opportunity to study the biodiversity of the region. It also offers canoeing and swimming. Check out https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/dunns-swamp-ganguddy-campground for more details.

Glen Davis
Located 50 km south of Rylstone via Glen Alice Road, Glen Davis is an old shale-mining ghost town on the Capertee River. The first mining tunnel, established in 1881, later became the basis of the major mining enterprise which opened in 1938. The Post Office was opened the following year. A town of some 2500 people developed around the mine, which was named Glen Davis after the Davis Gelatine interests who headed the mining consortium. The operation closed down in 1952 due to high costs and the increasingly small output, leaving what remains today - a fascinating ghost town characterised by crumbling furnace ruins, retorts and collapsed shafts covered in vegetation and surrounded by steep sandstone cliffs and a profuse array of birdlife.
Glen Davis has a picnic area with an amenities block.
There is a bushwalking trail (22 km return) to Newnes up the Green Gully, in the Wollemi National Park, following the old pipeline track. There are lyrebirds, cycads, banksia serrata and assorted eucalyptus. 
The only realistic way to see the ruins of the old shale mining town is to go on one of the Glen Davis Shale Oil Works Tours. Alex Mateer, who runs the tours, explains: "We do a weekly tour every Saturday at 2.00 pm. We meet at the front gate of  “The Poplars”, Glen Davis. The tour costs $15 pp,  ($8 for children under 12 yrs) and takes approx 2 hours - it's a walking tour, where you can see the ruins and hear the stories, so dress for the weather and bring some water. We also sometimes do private tours by arrangement, but they are more expensive.  It's always good to prebook and that way I can get in touch if we have to cancel for any reason (very unusual, but it has happened). You can do this by email (rickstalex@gmail.com) or phone (02) 6379 7380."

Ferntree Gully Reserve
Ferntree Gully, a particularly beautiful area of rainforest, is located off the Bylong Road, 17 km north of Rylstone. There are a number of attractive walking tracks which lead into the fern tree studded valley floor and around the top edge of the gully where it is possible to get an overview of the valley. A loop walk passes through unique plant communities ranging from western dry sclerophyll to dense rainforest. The valley has large fig trees, the Pandora pandoreana with its entangled maze of roots and rare rock orchids. The rainforest is home to lyre birds, rare powerful owls, scrub turkeys, black cockatoos, echidnas, marsupial mice, grey kangaroos, wombats and wallabies. The excellent website http://rylstonekandos.com/see-do/scenic-drives/fern-tree-gully-reserve-and-beyond explains: "Allow an hour minimum to do the full loop walk returning to the picnic area, longer if you like to dawdle inspecting the rock formations, ferns and orchids along the way. Take food and water. Medium grade walk, ascents/descents on some uneven slopes and stairs. 
Additional options:
1) Either on the way in to, or out of, Ferntree Gully, pass the turnoff on Bylong Valley Way and travel another 3 kms to the top of Growee Gulph, where headwaters of the Goulburn River have cut a stunning gorge down through the sandstone rock layers almost 300 metres/1,000 ft deep. Continue on down the steep winding road into the Gulph, with great views of enormous rock faces on the sides of the Valley. You can stop at the roadside picnic area (5 kms down the Gulph) and then return, or go all the way down into the Bylong Valley before retracing your steps. At the bottom of the Gulph, you can turn right into Growee Road (unsealed) to explore up a side valley for a few kilometres for more views of the cliffs. Return the way you came.
2) Return to Rylstone via Breakfast Creek Road. From the Ferntree Gully turn off, return along Bylong Valley Way for 7 km and then turn right into Breakfast Creek Road. This unsealed road (11 km) takes you through a pleasant valley in escarpment country into the top end of the Lue Valley. There are some gates, please close once you go through. The road intersects the Lue Road. Turn left and return to Rylstone, 9 kms."



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was occupied by the local Dabee tribe of the Wiradjuri People.

* In 1820 James Blackman explored a route from Bathurst to the Cudgegong River, the present site of Rylstone.

* By the mid-1820s the area was being occupied by settlers.

* The explorer, Alan Cunningham, passed through the area in 1823.

* In 1824 Aborigines in the area were massacred in the Capertee Valley by soldiers.

* A townsite was surveyed in 1842 at what had been a camping spot for stockmen.

* The town was formally laid out in 1846.

* A post office opened in 1849. 

* St James Anglican Church was founded in 1850.

* Rylstone was declared a police district in 1854.

* In 1855 the first land sale was held in the area.

* The first school in the area opened in 1857.

* Notorious bushranger Captain Thunderbolt was once held at the lock-up overnight in 1861 while being transported to Bathurst to stand trial for horse theft.

* The suspension bridge across the Cudgegong River was washed away in 1867.

* The local Court House and Gaol were built in 1870.

* In 1884 the railway from Wallerawang was extended to Rylstone.

* Rylstone was formally proclaimed a town in 1885.

* Gold was discovered in 1894.

* Rylstone Shire Council was formed in 1906.

* In 1910 coal was mined by W. McKay of Rylstone. Same year saw the mining of marble in the area.

* By 1912 limestone was being mined in the area.

* In May, 1913 the NSW Cement Lime & Coal Co was registered.

* In 1925 the local school burnt down.

* In 1948 the current bridge across the Cudgegong River was built.

* Sewerage was connected throughout the town in the 1960s.

* The railway through Rylstone was closed in 1992.

* In 1994 the Wollemi Pine is discovered in the Wollemi National Park.

* In 2000 the railway line to Mudgee was reopened.

* In 2007 the railway to Mudgee and Gulgong finally closed.


Visitor Information

The Saffron Kitchen + Cafe, 47 Louee Street, tel: 0407 531 520, open Friday to Sunday 10.00 am - 4.00 pm.


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website. Check out http://rylstonekandos.com.

Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

4 suggestions
  • Has anyone heard of a property named Lowanna between Rylstone and Mudgee [I think] owned by an Arnold Cook in the 40s and 50s? I spent time there when I was 6 or 7 year old

    Robert J Wray [great nephew]
  • I have so much family history in the area. Where would be the best place, and opening hours if available, to dig into this history. I have names and dates but would love to know more about the people themselves.

    Robyn Morton
  • My 3 times great g father was Joseph Taylor. I believe that he was responsible for bringing the Methodist church to Rylstone. Can anyone tell me in what year that was. I see that the original church building was built in 1852 so lm thinking that it must have been going for a few years prior to that

    Bruce Swanborough
  • Things to do: Late Night Shopping in Rylstone – every last Friday of the Month.
    Rev Up Rylstone!