The Bridge View Inn, Rylstone review: Secrets and sherry by the fire

Read our writer's views on this property below

A piece of quirky history downstairs and a grand surprise upstairs are all part of a warm welcome at the inn for Jane Richards.

EVERY old building has its secrets. But the Bridge View Inn in Rylstone, near Mudgee, has a spectacular one that may well make some of the older residents a tad uneasy.

If the local historical society has its way, their forebears could be revealed in all their naked glory thanks to a rare mural uncovered in the inn's downstairs dining room.

The mural, above a fireplace, is believed to have been painted in the 1870s and depicts a grinning, satyr-like image of a man. Above him is a picturesque scene of the old Rylstone bridge. A fisherman dangles his rod while cattle graze peacefully. But it's the naked images of two buxom women on either side of the mural that have caused the most interest. Their identity? Well, all has been revealed except their faces, which are still covered in paint until the society can raise enough cash to finish the restoration.

We are lucky enough to be shown the mural shortly after our afternoon arrival at the inn for a midweek break. The mural is intriguing and historic - much like the sandstone inn itself, which is owned and operated by the local historical society. It houses a Chinese gift shop and yum cha eatery downstairs and a tasting room for De Beaurepaire Wines, a museum and a community garden at the back of the building.

But the big surprise is upstairs. Here, this former hotel and bank comes into its own with antique-boutique accommodation for up to four people. There is loads of room and the best part is that upstairs is let to only one party at a time.

As we reach the top of the staircase, we hit a landing with a door on either side. We open one door to reveal a wide corridor leading to a spacious room with a four-poster queen bed and access to a lounge with open fire and TV/DVD. Two more doors reveal a large bathroom - with bath - and a kitchen. Back out on the landing, we open the door to the second bedroom. It, too, has an open fire and twin king single beds.

The place is filled with antiques and atmosphere. After a walk through the main street, with its beautiful sandstone buildings, we are soon in front of a blazing fire sipping complimentary sherry. Suddenly, disaster. An electrical hiccup means we are in darkness with all that atmosphere while an electrician summoned by the historical society carries out repairs.

Turns out the problem is minor - the inn's wiring is in excellent nick - and it serves only to add to the inn's quirky appeal.

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Now for dinner. Like Mudgee, Rylstone is known as a foodie's paradise, with regular weekend farmers' markets and local produce on sale. However, the midweek fare is looking pretty light on until we see The Shed, a small eatery off the Globe Hotel. Basic decor and empty tables almost turn us away but one sniff of the fire inside and we're in. After consuming possibly the biggest serve of salmon known to man washed down with red wine, all is right with the world.

Sleep comes easily in the comfortable four-poster and we rise early to dive into the breakfast provisions, which include oranges for juicing, good coffee, butter, marmalade and a sad loaf of sliced white bread - a bit odd considering the bakery across the road.

Then it's off to nearby Wollemi National Park, which has its own famous secrets. With thoughts of the legendary pine, we walk along a forest trail, seeing a dozen or so wallabies on the way. We also discover an excellent summer camping area in the oddly named Dunns Swamp inside the park on the Cudgegong River. It offers camping, canoeing and bushwalking and stunning pagoda rock formations. After lunch and wine tasting in Mudgee, we're back in front of our fire, grateful there is room at the inn.

The writer was a guest of Bridge View Inn and Tourism NSW.

Trip notes

Where The Bridge View Inn, 28-30 Louee Street, Rylstone.

Getting there Rylstone is three hours north-west of Sydney on the Bylong Valley Way, less than 50 kilometres from Mudgee. How much $150 a night for one bedroom; $250 for two. One bedroom has a queen bed and separate lounge, bathroom and kitchen. The second "apartment" has one large bedroom with two single beds. The entire upstairs is let out to only one party at a time. DIY breakfast included.

Style statement A great escape from the bland. Historic and comfy with loads of atmosphere. Some might find it a tad spooky. Perfect for A couple or two, or a family with two tweens or teens.

Don't forget To check for any family resemblance once the mural is completed — and try to time your visit with the weekend markets. A shame That the walls can't talk. The more you find out about the inn's past, the more you want to know. Also, sliced white bread just doesn't cut it in such a lovely setting.

Kudos For the beautiful beds, luxury linen and towels, the antique furniture and the little things: toiletries, magazines and the piece de resistance — a decanter of dry sherry.

Take the kids If they enjoy adventure and mystery. They will love having their "own" apartment but smaller kids might be a bit freaked out sleeping apart from mum and dad.