The city of Orange has more to do with apples and cherries than the citrus fruit. It was named as a tribute to the Prince of Orange who was later to become the King of Holland. But from being a rather sleepy town about five years ago, it has now changed to a thriving city about a three and a half-hour drive from Sydney or Canberra.
Now with over 40,000 residents and over 40 wineries in the area, an influx of tree changers started returning to town with visions to shake up the city’s landscape bit by bit, changing Orange into a foodie destination.
Now, with two hatted restaurants (Lolli Redini and Charred), this adds to the competition in town and creates fabulous food, particularly in the atmospheric pubs mostly in the main street. Also, visitors can taste the best of the season at a local farm gate or cellar door.
Stroll the streets
Strolling down the main street, you’ll come across old heritage buildings begging to be turned into a bakery or coffee shop. The Central West city has many other attributes. Marvel at its elegant Edwardian architecture, wide streets which, during Autumn, turn into a city of bright deep red, burnt orange and warm yellow leafy trees. The scenery is breathtaking across all four seasons. Make time to see the sunset at Mt Canobolas, walk about Gosling Creek Reserve or play a round of golf at any of the three beautiful golf courses.
Sip and shop
So the city of Orange has many attractions including umpteen boutique clothing and artefacts shops and definitely calls for a couple of nights’ stay. At the top end of the scale is the Byng Street Boutique Hotel, a historic homestead that has been transformed into a 4.5 star hotel. I stayed at the very comfortable and charming A Colour City Apartments which showed off some of the local artwork.
Ever since vines were planted on the volcanic slopes of nearby Mt Canobolas in the 1980s, Orange has been making a name for itself as a boutique wine region along with the fruit orchards made abundant by the early European settlers in the 19th century.
It’s fast developing a reputation as one of Australia’s top wine districts with local vintages regularly winning national and international awards. This, put together with one of New South Wales most top rating destinations for wining and dining, puts it firmly on Australia’s foodie map.
Orange is surrounded by a number of historic towns like Cargo, Nashdale, Blayney and Carcoar but we chose to go to the highly recommended town of Millthorpe. With cobbled streets and relatively unchanged 19th-century buildings, the entire village is classified by the National Trust. The Golden Memories Millthorpe Museum shows the history behind some Australian inventions and a good collection of Aboriginal items.
This beautiful town with its abundance of eateries, cellar doors, boutiques, arts and antiques can make a wonderful day out without a car if you come from Sydney. Just catch the XPT from Central and arrive in Millthorpe at 11.48 am in time for lunch, some exploring, a spot of cellar door tasting and then catch the train home at 4.11 pm.
My top ten things to do around Orange:
- Sip on cool climate wines – visit some of many wineries with the region producing highly awarded varieties such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon. Try Phillip Shaw, Borrodell Vineyard in Canobolas, Rowley Wines in Nashdale or Word of Mouth at Canobolas.
- Devour seasonal produce – huge range of locally grown apples, pears, cherries, vegetables, lamb, beef as well as truffles and saffron – available at weekly farmers markets’ too.
- Admire the landscape – two national parks, Lake Canobolas and beautiful scenery.
- Go for a cycle – road bikes, mountain bikes, triathlons and a number of events throughout the year.
- Experience the culture – a Regional Art Gallery and Regional Museum, several galleries, art trails and local artists on show. Don’t miss doing a tour with Indigenous Cultural Adventures.
- Be adventurous – bushwalking, hot air ballooning, fishing and 4WD experiences.
- Look up – The night skies around here are brilliant for stargazing and astrophotography.
- Delve into history – this area is the site of Australia’s first gold rush in 1851 (at Ophir), hundreds of significant historic sites, events – and is the birthplace of Banjo Paterson.
- Sign up for family fun – fruit picking, indoor pool, adventure playground, minigolf.
- Play golf – choice of three courses including historic Duntryleague.