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Driving into the heritage village of Rylstone, you’ll see a picture of majestic mountains tumbling into green pastures, vineyards producing crisp cool-climate wines and a snaking waterway surrounded by the Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park. From pioneering French-inspired vineyards to rainforest hikes, the small village of Rylstone is sprinkled with big surprises.
Life in Rylstone began in 1820. The heart of the village is predominantly dotted with 19th-century sandstone buildings, which, these days, house beloved boutique shops and gourmet delights. Take a wander along the main street, lined with historic buildings built in the Victorian and Interwar periods, to find plenty of quaint cafes, charming pubs and restaurants. Bite into steamy dim sum and yum cha in the sunlit courtyard of 29 Nine 99, an authentic Yum Cha and Tea House complete with intricate Chinese artwork – a captivating contrast to its colonial-style exterior.
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Whether you’re seeking a Rylstone memento or a scrumptious treat, there’s no shortage of local epicurean delights at The Country Plate. Pick up hand-made Rocky Roads in four unique flavours, and don’t miss their date and almond chutney, sought after for its rich, sweet and spicy flavours. Those with a sweet tooth won’t be able to resist the nostalgic lollies and deluxe chocolates found in the Lollipop Shop – a family favourite filled with locally crafted toys, gifts and eats. If knitting is your thing, drop into the iconic Convent and Chapel Wool Shop, showcasing artisan yarns sourced locally and internationally.
Rylstone’s vineyards are among the country’s best for cool-climate varieties, and where good vines grow, gourmet masterminds follow. The charming De Beaurepaire Wines began crafting drops of French-style wine in 1998, inspired by the limestone terroir similar to that of Burgundy in France. Since then, the family-run vineyard has made a name for itself, lauded for its elegant minimal intervention wines and intimate experiences. Book a private Tour du Vin tasting to sample the estate’s signature wines, or enjoy a gourmet picnic snacking on hamper goodies between the vines.
Perched overlooking the Capertee Valley sits another of Rylstone’s boutique vineyards. Naked Lady Wines boasts beautiful basket-pressed bottles of fruity cabernet and silky chardonnay – but it’s not just the wine that puts this cellar door on the map. Dive into homemade pizzas paired with live music, or settle in for a romantic evening under a sky punctured with stars at the vineyard’s barn accommodation.
Rylstone is a viticultural hub, and with a climate primed for wine, it’s no surprise that the region is also peppered with olive groves – and not just any olives at that. Rylstone Olive Press claims to produce Australia’s best virgin olive oil, and the worldwide awards adorning its walls are a testament to that. Stop by to learn more about the natural extraction process and sample their collection of five oils yourself, each named after a New South Wales river.
Rylstone isn’t just a place for gourmands, but water lovers too – nestled on the edge of Lake Windamere and enveloped by bushland sits Cudgegong Waters Park. This tranquil locale abounds with activities, attracting families from all over New South Wales. Think waterskiing, sailing, kayaking, fishing and swimming in the sun-drenched lake. Come evening, barbeques and campfires are coupled with lake views and majestic sunsets. Pitch a tent at a powered or unpowered spot, or switch off in a cabin complete with a kitchenette, ensuite and BBQ. If you’re seeking a campsite closer to civilisation, Rylstone Caravan Park offers the best of both worlds, being a stone’s throw away from the town centre while sitting near the banks of the Cudgegong River.
The adventures don’t stop there. Ferntree Gully could well be Rylstone’s best-kept secret. This short (but extremely sweet) 2.8 km walking circuit invites you to explore the breathtaking rainforest and its intriguing scenery of unique rock formations, lush vegetation and trickling waterfalls. A mecca for birdlife, you won’t be hard-pressed to spot lyrebirds, a generally shy and elusive species, among other native Australian wildlife.
The World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park is as vast as it is magnificent. Spanning from the Blue Mountains all the way to Rylstone, it’s the largest declared wilderness area in New South Wales. Imagine a patchwork of awe-inspiring walking trails, rugged rivers carved between dramatic clifftops and canyons, and waterfalls.
Adventure is Wollemi’s middle name, and Rylstone’s got front-row seats to the action. Pack up your things to enjoy a nature-filled weekend at Ganguddy-Dunns Swamp Campground, where the tranquil waterway meets the scribbly gum forest. Glide over the river with Southern Cross Kayaking to immerse yourself in the landscape, lace up your trainers to seek out the vistas from the Pagoda Lookout Walking Track, or simply sit peacefully, soaking in the scenery.
Driving into the heritage village of Rylstone, you’ll see a picture of majestic mountains tumbling into undulating green pastures, expanses of luscious grapevines, and a snaking waterway surrounded by the Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park.
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