Rylstone Artisan Markets with a Lady Bushranger…

I love a market.

I love discovering a market – driving into a town and seeing a cluster of stalls and crowds milling around, buzzing with excitement. I always have to stop and investigate.

For me there’s nothing more thrilling than walking through a town or city and turning a corner and suddenly realizing I’m in the middle of a bustling market, selling all sorts of stuff that’s particular to that part of the world.

And of course integral to all markets are the food stalls – often run by local chefs who like to turn their hand on market day to making simple but delicious food that can be eaten as you wander through. Invariably these stalls only sell stuff that’s fresh, using produce that’s locally sourced, and of the highest quality. The kind of food you can’t get in a supermarket.

Some of my memorable markets are:

  • The huge Thursday markets in Barcelos, North Portugal
  • The Sunday street markets around 125th Street in Harlem, New York
  • The Saturday markets in Rue Moufftarde in Paris
  • The Saturday markets in Salamanca Place, Hobart Tasmania
  • The Camden Lock Markets in London
  • Pike Place Markets in Seattle
  • The Sunday morning markets in central Krakow, Poland
  • The morning farmers market in Fortville, Cannes France
  • Havel’s Market in the centre of Prague
  • The markets down by the waterfront in Helsinki, Finland
  • The Siem Reap night markets in Cambodia
  • The Temple Street Night Markets in Hong Kong
  • The San Lorenzo markets in Florence, Italy
  • Crawford Market in Bombay
  • The Camel Markets in Cairo
  • And all the tiny little markets I’ve just stumbled across in my travels.

And then there’s the Rylstone markets.

The Rylstone Artisan and Produce Markets are held every second Saturday of the month, and whilst they’re not quite Florence and they’re not quite Prague, they ARE true blue Aussie.

Rylstone markets

Rylstone is a small country town 3 hours drive (240kms) north west of Sydney. To get there you have to drive through some beautiful bushland, ravaged at the moment by drought.

Rylstone trees


Rylstone began life in the mid 1800s, and now has an ecclectic population of about 1000 people, with a mixture of locals who’ve been there for generations, along with a younger hipper “blow-in” crowd who’ve established some cool shops and eateries.

On a Saturday morning the main drag is bustling… (note the lack of parking space.)

Rylstone street

I live in Mudgee, a further 45 minutes drive to the north west – and it has a population of 8000. It’s regarded by the folk in Rylstone as “the big smoke.”

Rylstone, and its sister town Kandos some 20kms away, have developed something of a foodie reputation. Nestled in the surrounding hills and valleys are producers making wonderful cheeses, breads, olive oils, honeys and jams – along with the best poultry, lamb and beef. The Mudgee district also produces some terrific wines.

The Rylstone Artisan Markets are situated in the Municipal Shire Hall and surrounding grounds.

Shire Hall

Opposite is the Rylstone pub.

Rylstone pub

Note that no-one is parked outside the pub because they’re all either at the markets, or hanging out along the bustling main drag.

The pub has a bar called The Lady Bushranger bar. Also note that it has an ATM, and one could place a very cogent argument that the banks are now the modern day bushrangers.

Lady Bushranger

The Lady Bushranger referred to is a local legend. Her name was Jessie Hickman, and she was one tough mother. Her stock in trade was cattle “duffing,” in Aussie lingo. In America lingo it would be called cattle “rustling.”


Jessie Hickman lived in a cave outside of Rylstone around the early 1900s, and is reputed to have escaped custody one time by stripping off in front of the local copper until she was completely stark naked. The cop got such a fright he averted his gaze, and she slipped away.

Hall int

Walking into the Shire Hall on market day, the first stall you encounter is a food stall run by Ali, a former Sydney chef. She sells delicious home made quiches and wraps and muffins. All sourced from local produce.

Ali at stall

Ali used to cook for the Sydney Dance Co, the jazz clientele at The Basement, and other prestigious establishments. She did catering for the Big End of Town, but a back injury put a premature halt to her burgeoning career and she went bush – and now the Rylstone locals benefit from her relocation.

Vegetable quiche bicuits Chicken quiche

I try her free range chicken with roasted vegetables quiche, ($4.50) accompanied by her own secret mustard mayo recipe, and the combination is yummy! The quiche tastes like it was made with enormous generosity of spirit.

Further into the hall is a stand selling the most delicious home made jams, marmalades and relishes. Run by Frances, her produce has blitzed the local show awards.

Jams stall.1Ribbons

jars top shot

She makes her jams and relishes from fruit trees on her own property, which is a ways out of town. What she can’t source from her own trees, she gets from other farmers in the district.

Jars closer.2 jars closer.1

I buy a jar of her spicy Tomato Relish, for $8. Perfect for hot dogs and hamburgers. (I would road test it soon!)



I wander outside, careful not to take any chairs, tables or furniture with me, and see a stall selling icecream. I feel like an icecream after my chicken quiche with mustard mayo.

Rebecca WS

Rebecca runs the stall and while she scoops me out a macadamia and wattleseed icecream cone, she tells me that she was given a home icecream maker several years earlier. Ever since she’s wanted to make innovative and unique icecreams.

WS scoop

My icecream is creamy, flavorsome and quickly disappears. Beautiful. And like nothing I’ve had anywhere else.

What with Ali’s chicken quiche and her home made mustard mayo, and Rebecca’s heaped icecream cone, I’m now feeling a bit full. Then I catch sight of the stall next door – the Rylstone/Kandos Rotary Club cook-up.

Rotary group shot

I wander across.

Run by Amanda and David, along with Graham, they make hamburgers with sausages and eggs and bacon with fried onions, for $5.

Sausages and bacon

The money goes towards Rotary’s charitable work, and their youth programme. Rylstone/Kandos Rotary Club is helping some of the young kids around town, but as well their funding goes towards helping victims of natural disasters and conflicts overseas.

Feeling charitable, I order a hamburger.

Cut now to a cross section of my stomach –

Think of it like a geological cross section of a mountain, with various strata showing the ice-age, the dinosaur age, the neolithic age, and the disco age etc…

cross section

My stomach cross section has Ali’s chicken and roasted vegetable quiche swimming in her secret mustard mayo, then on top of that is Rebecca’s macadamia and wattleseed icecream, fragmented with slightly digested bits of sugared cone, and now on top of that I’m about to put the Rylstone/Kandos Rotary Club hamburger, with bacon, egg and fried onions?

Then I remember Frances’ tomato relish!

I open the jar and liberally douse the innards of the hamburger with the relish. This will either enhance the eating experience exponentially, given that the relish is from an award winning producer – or it will make me puke.

I’m so eager to try it I take a bite before I realize I haven’t taken a photo!

hamburgerThe hamburger is delicious. The relish is spicy and full of flavour. The egg and bacon aren’t too greasy – they’ve been cooked just right – and the toasted bun is fresh and yummy.

Not only that but I feel good that my $5 is going towards worthwhile charitable enterprises.


However, the whole eating experience  is now starting to sit uneasily on my stratified stomach. So I have a Coke Zero.

I find that Coke Zero is like a broad spectrum antibiotic. It lays waste to everything in its path. In this case I suspect it de-stratified my stomach. Who says that sugar chemical substitutes can’t have redeeming features?

I must say I haven’t met a Coke Zero I didn’t like.

As I walk back to my car, parked on the main drag, (yes, I was lucky enough to get a parking spot!), I think about all the markets I’ve ever been to in my travels around the world. And I wonder what it is about a market that excites me so much.

It’s the opportunity to learn more about where you are, through the remarkable people who run the stalls. And that’s what I loved about the Rylstone markets. In meeting and chatting with Ali and Frances and Rebecca and the Rotary folk, I learnt more about my country, and about the spirit of the people who live here.

So second Saturday of the month if you’re passing by, drop in to the Rylstone Artisan and Produce markets and stratify your stomach – that is, if you can get a park…

28 thoughts on “Rylstone Artisan Markets with a Lady Bushranger…

  1. Delightful! I love markets. I used to be a market lady too. Markham Farmers Market runs on Saturdays from May to mid October. I started out helping the organizer who no longer could “man” his stand and so for many years I was the bread/egg/cheese lady. I got the bread from a local baker, the eggs from a “free-range farm” about 1 hours drive away and the cheese from a local cheese factory. I had the most fun with people asking me about what is the difference between my white and brown eggs…. depending on who it was, and how many times I had answered that day…. eventually, I secretly confided that I had gotten up at midnight to colour the whites to brown ;-). All in good fun of course. I was famous for my delicious gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and in direct competition with the hot dog guy. Who eats hot dogs anyway?

    We supported local musicians and at times when the music was just too inviting, we would grab another farmer and dance along the street. We would huddle together in the market office when we were surprised by summer thunderstorms, praying for the tents not to blow away and lightning not to strike. I miss my farmers market family. Things always change and as surrounding towns decided to also have a farmers market, ours dwindled and it was a challenge to keep up the “quality” of the market. Today, it is just one of many, non-descript commercial enterprises, that Markhamites ignore and tourists on their way to cottage country stop for.

    But what wonderful memories you have stirred up, my friend Bill. You did it again! Thanks Mate!

    Light and Love Ingrid

    1. Dear Ingrid – fabulous, thank you!

      I’ve been to some great markets in Canada. I remember the Mahone Bay markets in Nova Scotia, and also in Montreal.

      Glad the post though stirred some memories!

  2. Ingrid
    What is the difference between a white and brown egg?

    Have you ever been to the Pike Place Market in Seattle? Famous for fish throwing and catching. One worker will throw a huge fish 20 or 30 feet across the stall and another worker catches it. Makes for great video and pictures.

      1. I think you are pulling my leg! Tee Hee! I just asked my husband and his answer was genetics and food not feather color! Your answer is better.
        PS White milk comes from white cows and chocolate milk from brown cows! Hooly Dooly!

  3. Lynda, trust me on that, it truly is brown or white hens, no genetic mutations… now the milk part… Hooly Dooly, you have been in the “brown cow liquor bottle”. lol

  4. Fantastic post Bill! Gorgeous photography too!

    Two markets I really love are the famous Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill – every time I go to London I make sure to go there (but sadly Hugh Grant is never walking across the road with his orange juice …).

    The other market I love is the Eumundi Market, inland from Noosa in Queensland – a quite hip and happening market (think rastas and VERY alternative people!) which features great local food, and some very special muffins if you ask the right people … get my drift?!

    Cheers – Jenny

    PS – I miss everyone in our PGS family !!! Sorry – I just had to say it!

      1. Hi Ingrid! Another thing I miss is having the opportunity to read your beautiful poems from time to time … xx

      2. Awwww, Jenny, you are a sweety. Just for you and the rest of my PGS family.


        As the bell strikes the hour
        I cast my eyes upon the sky
        There in the distance, way up high
        A star, then two and more and more
        To light my path
        Reflected in my dreams ~ Ingrid Folkers- Peregrina

      3. Thank you Ingrid! I love this poem! It has a wonderful title that goes so beautifully with the poem too.
        Thanks again for your thoughtfulness –
        Jenny xx

      1. I am enjoying Bill’s post as well as everyone’s comments. My life is focused these days on my mother, who is declining. I’m virtually living at her place and working only part-time, but daydreaming seriously about retiring and doing the Camino in the fall of 2014.

      2. Hi Clare – lovely to hear from you. Very sad about your mother. Some of us are getting to that age where our mothers require our love and attention. Shame you can’t join our tour in April – but the fall will be beautiful! Bill

      3. Clare
        Sorry about your mom. Went through it a couple years ago. Very trying at times.
        We did th Camino mid August to end of October ans he weather was great, A little too hot at times for me as I’m from Seattle – Rainy! We only had a few hours of rain during the whole six weeks until we got to Santiago. Still dreaming of The Camino! Would love to go every year or maybe Bill’s food tour of Sicily.
        I love your photos above. The color is so sharp and beautiful.

      4. Dear Clare –
        I’m very sorry to hear about your Mum and the difficulties that she is in. It’s so worrying when our loved ones become ill and frail. Like you and Lynda, my husband Steve and I have been through sad times with both our Mums, so we can appreciate how concerned you would be.
        Very best wishes – Jenny xx

    1. Hey Jenny- lovely to hear from you! I’ve been head down working – and my computer filed all these posts in a junk file so I’ve only just come across them. But I miss you too – and all you guys. I’ll be stoking up the PGS blog possibly earlier than April 1 – I might start mid March, to talk about the preparations leading to the tour. Hope you’re well mate, and all the best for this new year! Bill

  5. Dear Clare, I know what you are dealing with. I have been for about a year looking after my mother in law. It is difficult on everyone. Take time to look after yourself, this is important. So many times we are so enveloped in the task, we tend to forget, that we too need looking after.

    My mother in law is 87 and frail and ailing. She is in a good place, but until she was able to be there, I moved in with her too to look after her. I found the time spend with her a camino too, day by day and step by step. A glimpse into the future and reflective thoughts of what my own future might be like.

    Now that we have more help, it is easier to cope. It might, however, postpone my Camino trip for this year and that is a bit sad too.

    Be gentle with yourself, blessings Ingrid


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