I have recently returned from a trip through New South Wales, on my way to walk up to the summit of Mt Kosciusko. My husband loves to pour over the map to discover different routes for us to travel on our trips and this trip was no different.
Instead of travelling the full length of the New England Highway, we headed west from Muswellbrook, via Denman to Sandy Hollow, where the Bylong Valley Way commences. The Bylong valley runs a total of 137kms and boasts the most picturesque scenery and driving roads I’ve experienced here in Australia.
The well sealed road winds its way through beautiful dairy and grazing country and vineyards. A large chunk of Bylong Valley Way wends its way between the Wollemi and Goulburn River National Parks where an abundance and variety of flora and fauna can be found.
We travelled through four townships whilst on the Bylong Valley Way. Bylong, Rylstone and Kandos and finally Ilford, where the valley comes to an end.
Bylong is a very small hamlet, with a population of 10, but is the hub for many outlying properties. There is a fabulous “one-stop” store at Bylong, and it’s here that you’ll find just about anything. Part owner Jodi Nancarrow chatted with me and told me about the annual “Mouse Races” that are held at the town oval opposite the store every 12 months. For a little rural community, this event packs a whopper punch. With more than 2,000 people attending the annual races and approx $30,000 raised for local charities and service clubs.
It is quiet ingenious how the “race track” is set up with 10 perspex runs, stacked on top of one another so all the punters can watch their mouse. Jodi Nancarrow told me the chief steward and trainer is one Gay Watermouse. (For those non-Aussies, Gay Waterhouse is one of Australia’s most prominent and successful horse trainers).
Rylstone is a magic little settlement, with one of the most historic main streets I’ve ever come across. Unfortunately we didn’t stay very long – enough to have a coffee and a quick walk through the main street – Louee Street. This street is quite unique in that up to the 1930’s the street consisted of an upper level and a lower level. The community decided to level the street by creating the high steps to the buildings on the high side of the road. This affords a very quaint streetscape. We have put Rylstone on our “bucket list” for a longer visit in the future.
We found the township of Kandos to be the largest of the four communities. Not a pretty town, it is best known for cement production. But the drive around Kandos continues to be very enjoyable, with long winding roads, and gorgeous overhead cliffs and tablelands.
As we passed through Ilford, we promised ourselves to return in the near future to the Bylong Valley Way for a more concentrated visit next time.