Rydal Heritage Walk

RYDAL HERITAGE WALK - a self guided tour. Click here to download the brochure

Below is additional information not included in the brochure.

Many of the Rydal buildings have heritage listings. See asterisks.
*This property has a local heritage listing.
** This property has a state heritage listing.

Remember: homes listed are private properties and while you are welcome to view the outside, do not enter the grounds


1: ** Rydal Railway Station
(1869.) Rydal was the end of the western line until it was extended to Bathurst in 1876. Goods and passengers were offloaded here and then went by wagon or Cobb & Co Coach to their destination.

In later years and until the introduction of motor coaches, people wishing to visit Jenolan Caves came to Rydal by train, then by horse-drawn vehicle to the Caves. As the station was briefly a terminus, it had a crossing loop, two blind sidings and goods shed. The line was duplicated in 1910 but this was removed and operated as a single track since 1998.

The loading gauge is a remnant of the peak wool trade on the rail and is one of the few remaining such structures. It is the only observed timber gauge surviving and is an indication of the importance of the area in wool production. The station also served as a post office and telegraph office from 1870 to 1902. It is a rare example of a combined station/residence which is available for guests. Another part is a public library, run by volunteers. The station was staffed until 1989.

The line through Rydal is still the main western line to Perth but goods are no longer loaded at Rydal. However, for many years the railway station was still an important part of the village. Stock was walked to the train for loading, it was well used by the vegetable farmers, the apple growers and the wool producers. When the village had a shop, people would come from Tarana and Sodwall by train. This was how most goods were delivered to the village including the kegs for the pub, the newspapers and milk supply. There were once lots of fettlers and families living in Rydal even after the line had been extended.

For a time, Rydal was allocated “approximately” 10 tons (imperial) of coal to be used for the signal cabin stove and the waiting room. It was unloaded by any of the local settlers after normal working hours and they were given a flat rate of 4 hours pay to do so. The coal bunker was between the Septic Tank and street side boundary fence some 5 metres away and they did it all by shovel only. In the load of coal was found ballast, gravel, dog spikes and sleeper plates as a lot of the load had been picked up from around the Top and Bottom Yard in Lithgow after it had fallen off an overloaded wagon. All employees who transferred on promotion were allowed to send their furniture and personal effects by rail free of charge to their new position. The occupant of the residence had to make their own arrangements for a supply of coal and pay for it.

The residents of Rydal could find no record of their railway station being officially opened so on Saturday 2 July 2005 they celebrated the opening of their railway station by inviting Transport Minister John Watkins to do the honours and deliver an address. The platform was covered with people for the occasion, many of whom dressed in period costume. The XPT comes through daily but you have to book it to stop for you.

Train link reservations 132 232
To book accommodation in the rail station email Rydalmount@bigpond.com.au

2: The Signal Box
The signal box (1914) once an important part of the railway station when points and signals were operated by individual levers. These are no longer required and Rydal now only has a single line.

3: The Guards Van
The Rydal Railway Station has always been of great importance to Rydal. This restored rail van, in the former loading dock, represents a significant part of the history of the village. The loading dock was a busy place for all manner of Goods being received and sent from Rydal during the years it was in use.

Dating from 1909 the van was restored in 2014 by the Rydal Village Association under the guidance of Linsey Featherstone, President of the Village Association. It is on permanent loan from Bruce Peelgrane.

It would have been built by Ritchie Bros Carriage Works as HG15022 and was retired in 1946 as L 572. It is a former Goods train Guard’s Van (Also known as a Brake Van). They had four wheels and were quite common on the NSWGR in the first half of the 20th century. They had timber under-frames (sole bars and headstocks) with a vertically timber-boarded body and timber roof covered with canvas.

Like many of the time, it had a second-class passenger compartment that could be used by members of the public on lightly used lines or by drovers. Drovers would occupy the compartment of livestock trains to tend to the animals at stops on-route.

During the 1960s it came out of retirement and transferred from a goods guard’s van to a service vehicle and then acquired cast number plates on the sole bars as L572. The L indicating that the vehicle is on the service vehicle list. Once it became a service vehicle it lost its “duckets” or lookouts for the guard to view the train from his seat. These duckets were steel panelled and curved projections on each side of the vehicle at the sliding door end. Where these were, has been panelled over. As a guard’s van it would have been painted all- over grey. It would have carried a white square low on the body side with a red circle to indicate it was fitted with Westinghouse brakes.

4: War Memorials
There is a World War 1 Memorial on the Railway Station and a World War 2 Memorial at the entrance to the Rydal Show Ground. Honour Boards are also in the Union Church. The World War 1 memorial had a German Machine gun until it was stolen on 30.1.2005, Linsey Featherstone, a third generation member of the Rydal Featherstone family, visited the Small Arms Factory in Lithgow and made a replica.

Below is the article from The Bathurst Times Thursday 19 October 1922 (Page 2) detailing the upcoming unveiling ceremony.

Machine Gun for Rydal

After nearly two years the machine gun allotted to Rydal has been erected in the square approaching the railway station. The work was carried out by Mr R Busby of Bowenfels, and consists of a massive concrete stand mounting the machine gun, with marble table, containing the names of the men who enlisted from the district. The work is very artistically done and reflects great credit on Mr R Busby the designer and erector and Mrs R Mays, Hon Secretary who has worked hard to obtain funds for its erection. The unveiling ceremony is to take place on Saturday and is to be carried out by General Sir Charles Rosenthal M.L.A (1)

Note: Prayers and blessing at the unveiling ceremony were offered by Rev Severino Mambrini (2) OFM followed by the singing of a hymn (Possibly “God Bless our Native Land”) Bishop John Ignatius OFM (20 March 1999).


(1) General Sir Charles Rosenthal MLA was for a time the State Member for Bathurst and had had a distinguished war record.

(2) The Note added later about this article by Bishop John Ignatius Doggett makes reference to Rev Severino Mambrini who was a World War 1 army chaplain.

5: Rydal Cottage c 1890
This small former worker’s cottage, typical of the era in which it was built, has now been restored and has an extensive garden. Self contained accommodation is available and the cottage is pet friendly.

Email: cla12derlyons@gmail.com

6: *Former Police Station
An escort station was first erected in Rydal in 1850 with cell accommodation. The construction of a brick residence in 1869 gave security for the gold consignments coming under escort from the Turon goldfields. The last policeman, William Harmer, left in 1942. The separate building at the back was the office.

7: *Rydal Mount- former Rydal School. (1869)
The school residence 1876-7 and by 1892 the grounds were enclosed to reduce access for kangaroos and cattle. Additions were carried out to the residence in 1897, 1898 and again 1904. In its early days about 100 children were enrolled. New classrooms and office were added in 1962 and an amenities block in 1964. The school closed in 1985. The oak tree in the front of the school was planted by Gough Whitlam in 1999. Rydal Mount is available for group accommodation.

Email: info@rydalmount.com.au

8: *The Union Church (1899)
Was built in the late 19th Century Carpenter’s Gothic Style for the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodists, hence the title Union Church. The land was given by Mr Cale an Anglican; the builders were the Methodist Brown Brothers and Mr Parker who was Presbyterian. It has a timber altar, made from a simple table with legs added from an old dresser. Plywood from packing boxes in this case, boxes containing “produce from Java” was used as infill on three sides. Crosses are hand carved in each corner of the altar “table” top with a larger cross in the centre.

The Sunday School room was added by the Methodists and built by Mr Martin, a local, in 1963. The church is used for Ecumenical services, concerts and community meetings. It has an unusual and restored World War 1 Honour Board with names and photos. It also contains the honour board which was once in the Rydal School. The complete war records of the soldiers on the restored Honour Board are in the church as well. The church is cared for by Rydal Union Church Incorporated.

One of the most interesting and memorable ceremonies in the history of Rydal was performed in the Union Church, when a roll of honor to perpetuate the names and memory of the lads who had responded to the Empire's call was unveiled. The Revs. F. Dixon (Methodist) and C. Maitland Elliss (Presbyterian) of Portland were present and jointly carried the service through. The board contained the following wording: "Pro Rege et Patria. Roll of Honor, Rydal Union Church. Our Boys. European War 14-15-16-17." The names appear in order - Pte. R.J. Freeman, Pte. H. Cale, Pte. H. Griffiths (killed), Pte. W. Featherstone, Gunner J. Macrea, Pte.B. Baumbert, Trooper W.S. Thew, Pte. W. Adshead (killed), Pte. J. Ford, Pte. A.A. Cale, Pte. L.L. Thew, Pte. R.J. James, Pte. S. Griffiths, Pte. J. Williamson, Pte. F. Travers. Mrs. R, Cale, president; Mrs. E. Cullen, treasurer; Mrs. S. Mays, hon. Secretary. May 2, 1917"

This article appeared in the “Bathurst Times of 5 July 1917 long before the war had finished. There were several locals who joined the armed services after this date and their names were added at a later date.

9: *Alexander Hotel.(21.01,1914)
On the site of a former hotel known as the Commercial Hotel, which was licensed from 1868 and burnt down in 1903. There was a brief use of the hotel for the documentary “A Steam Train Passes” produced by Anthony Buckley and made in 1974.

10: Greg Featherstone Park, Bathurst Street: (2000)
This park was built on Railway land as a community project complete with picnic facilities and named after Greg Featherstone who was a long serving staff member of the Rydal Railway Station.

When the station was first built there was also a park and this was designed by the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. The article from The Sydney Mail 29 September 1937. Öak Tree at Rail Station, gives a retrospective view of the village as well as a “current” 1937 version. The Canadian Oak tree, which gets a special mention, is the background for the photo of Mrs Hunter and her mother Mrs Anderson as she leaves for her honeymoon from Rydal in the photo below.

11: Pioneers Park Market St.
This is a Rydal Village Association initiative where Crown Land has been turned into a landscaped park and picnic area.

12: *Rose Cottage (c1860)
Cartwright Street is the oldest remaining cottage in Rydal. Restoration began in 1999. The front part was the scullery and wash house and was separate from the main house. The cottage can be seen in the Historic Photograph of Rydal in front of Rydal Mount.

13: *St Matthew’s Church (1869)
Cartwright Street was designed by the well-known Bathurst architect Edward Gell. It is built from local stone in a modified Gothic style with narrow lancet windows. New windows were installed in 2007. There are two gravesites in the grounds as well as unmarked graves. The grounds once had a small one room structure where the priest would change his vestments. It is not known when the building was demolished but was still standing c1916. Regular church services are held. For details contact the Parish Priest.

14: *Rydal Showground
Buildings were constructed at various stages since 1921 on community recreation land, which once included tennis courts and a cricket pitch. The Rydal Horticultural and Agricultural Society conduct shows on the first Saturday of February www.lisp.com.au/~rydalshow.The entry gate includes a WWII memorial which is also heritage listed. The Bicentennial National Trail passes through Rydal. This 5,330 kilometre trail from Cooktown Queensland to Healesville Victoria is the longest marked, non-motorised trekking route in the world. The Rydal showground is a designated camping site for the Trail.

15: *Rydal Cemetery
Is in a bushland setting about 500m from the main centre of Rydal. It is enclosed with a post and wire fence with wooden picket gates. A plaque describes how the fence was erected by descendants of the Doggett and Fletcher families. Contains memorials dating from 1869 and was expanded in 1899 for extensions to the Presbyterian, Anglican, Catholic and Methodist sections. The cemetery reflects the cultural landscape of Rydal throughout its growth in the 1860’s and decline in the early 20th century. The grounds are well maintained and the cemetery is still in use. Visit http://austcemindex.com/?cemetery=rydal for digital images and notes of every visible inscription.

16: **Chapel House
This property, located about a kilometre from the centre of the village, has had several lives.

Being one of the most famous buildings in the district, the property known as Chapel House, had its origin with the Queen Victoria Inn, built in the 1830s. The complex of buildings is a mix of Colonial, Georgian, Federation and Bungalow Styles.

Its second Innkeeper was Henry Rotton whom became licensee in 1839. He was known as a keen businessman, acquired great wealth and became a member of Parliament for Hartley 1859-1864. His respectable position did not mean he had a completely respectable reputation as he was charged with supplying spirits to convicts through the Queen Victoria Inn. The Inn lost its importance when the road to Mt Lambie was diverted and the railway was pushed beyond Rydal.

Another phase of life for the Inn came when the Franciscan Order purchased the property in 1917 as a seminary known as Mt Alverna and the residential school known as Bonaventure College. It closed in 1925. Ignatius John Doggett, born in Market Street Rydal, who was the first Australian born Franciscan Bishop, was educated here.

David and Ethel Anderson owned the property for a time after they sold the licence of the Alexander Hotel in the 1960s. During their time they called the property Glen Rock after the coalmine Ethel’s father had leased in the Newcastle area.

Mary Hamilton was another well known owner of the property.

Yet another life for Chapel House was when the famous artist John Olsen and his wife lived there for a few years.

Since 1998 Chapel House has been the home of Jo and Michael Maxwell. Jo Maxwell, through her family has the longest connection of all with the Chapel House as Jo, through her mother, Ailsa Fulton, is a direct descendant, of Lydia Fulton who was given the land in 1842, on which the Victoria Inn was built.

Lydia was the daughter of Reverend Henry Fulton, an Englishman who had been ordained a Minister of the Church of England of Ireland. However, he was implicated in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and was sentenced as a political prisoner for transportation to Australia. He arrived on the Minerva on 11 January 1800. By November 1800 he had been given a conditional pardon and by 1808 he had a full pardon. He was made the assistant chaplain to the Hawkesbury area. Fulton supported Captain William Bligh in the Rum Rebellion of 1808.

During Governor Macquarie’s time in the colony, Fulton was made minister in charge of the parish of Richmond and Castlereagh and was a Justice of the Peace. He was a very good scholar and interested in education and a very respected man of the colony. Such is the respect of Henry Fulton in the Hawkesbury area there is even a school named after him, the Henry Fulton Public School Cranebrook.

For services to the ministry in the Hawkesbury area his daughter Lydia was given a grant of land at Rydal.

Although there was certainly a garden at Chapel House when the Maxwells arrived, it has now been transformed into one of the great gardens of the district and has been opened for charity functions on many occasions and is available for pre-booked tours.

Email: jomaxwell@bigpond.com


Plaque for Marie Bashir AC CVO
Governor NSW, in Greg Featherstone Park. She visited Rydal in 2006 and opened Daffodils at Rydal.

Memorial Plaque for John Wellings
This is located behind the western end of the Rydal Railway Station. John was a Rydal resident from 1997 to 2006. His vision helped to form the Rydal Village Association, Daffodils at Rydal, and the Rydal beautification program, the creation of the Pioneers Park and the transformation of the railway land now known as Greg Featherstone Park.

Memorial plaque for Noel Hawley
Located on the Rydal Railway Station, Noel was tragically killed by an assailant while on duty on 14 September 1973.

Keep Australia Beautiful Plaques
Visit the Gazebo in the Greg Featherstone Park and see all the awards the village has won.

Plaque: Bathurst Road
Near railway crossing and bus shelter. The plaque is dedicated to Percy & Gloria Miller for their years of loyal service to the NSWGR. The cottage where the Miller’s once lived has now been demolished and with the installation of automatic gates for the crossing the job of gatekeeper no longer existed.


Rydal Bushfire Shed (1996)
A comparatively new building for Rydal but the Rydal Bushfire Brigade began in 1939. Its first president was William Harmer, the resident Policeman of Rydal. Until 1996, fire equipment was stored on the local farms. The Rydal Bushfire Brigade is very active and run entirely by volunteers.

The Sculpture Garden
New Street: Rydal. This is the studio of well-known artist Antony Symons. Open by appointment. Phone 6355 6297

Former Rydal Dairy
19 Stacks Rd Rydal. The land where the dairy was located was originally settled in 1838 and the simple cottage is one of Rydal’s early buildings.

When Rydal was a busier place it had a General Store and Post Office now private homes in Bathurst St. The General Store, initially operated by the Cale Family was in business from 1921 to 1972. Postal services were offered in Rydal from 1859. The services were housed in the railway station from 1870 to 1902 then moved around in various stores and houses in the main commercial centre of Rydal. Richard Cale built a residence and post office adjacent to his father Arthur Cale’s store. It ceased operation as a post office in 1994.

The Calesia Guesthouse started operating in 1904 on the corner of Bathurst & Markets Streets and then became the Royal Hotel it was burnt down in 1933. Another hotel that was once in Rydal was known as The Fox under the Hill and very close to where the present railway station is located. There was a butcher shop between the church and the hotel. The cottage set back on this block survived after the butcher’s shop burnt down.

The Bicentennial National Trail which was created in 1988 passes through Rydal the Showground is a designated camping area for those using the Trail.