This pretty town was one of the first European settlements over the Great Divide. 

Story + Photos Ken Eastwood

Within 60m of an airstrip, Bernadette Harvey is playing Bach’s Prelude in C Major on a stunning, handmade Fazioli grand piano. Her husband Peter Rejto, also a highly accomplished musician, has his cello next to her in their beautiful, spacious home built 3 years ago. 

The couple are residents in this most interesting small development among lush green mountains on the outskirts of Rylstone, NSW – an airpark, where people with planes can set up residences alongside their hangars, within metres of a couple of grass airstrips. Cars and taxiing planes share the roadways, but with only 63 lots, there certainly isn’t a rush hour. 

“Air parks are very appealing because the aeroplane’s right there,” Peter says. “When I used to have to drive 1.45 hours to get to the airstrip where our plane was, I’d get there and not feel like flying anymore.”

Welcomed into the increasingly creative community of Rylstone, and its neighbouring town Kandos, just 7km away, Bernadette (who lectures at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music) plays organ at the Catholic church each Sunday, and the couple holds standing room only concerts for locals in their airpark home. “It was the community here that we fell in love with,” she says.

Set in a rural paradise, with sheep, cropping, speckled cows, Angus and Murray greys, and wild national parks such as Wollemi and Gardens of Stone nearby, Rylstone is set along the Cudgegong River, where platypus are often seen. It was one of the first towns settled by Europeans over the Great Divide, and last year celebrated the bicentenary of former convict Richard Fitzgerald establishing a pastoral enterprise in the area, although Rylstone wasn’t declared a village until 1842. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #151

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2023