Drive just a few hours west of the Blue Mountains and you’ll find yourself surrounded by beautiful countryside, where rolling hills of rich greens and scattered grey gums sprout sporadically — these are telling signs that you’ve indeed arrived at Orange.
Whilst out-of-towners venture here for the wine, being renowned as one of Australia’s best wine regions, Orange is far from being a one trick pony. Here, the food is just as much of a drawcard, with many fine dining restaurants, local cafés and casual eats, placing great focus on locally sourced produce. Equally, the flourishing cosmopolitan lifestyle is also beyond question, attracting more and more boutique fashion and homeware stores to its stylish streets.
However, regardless of its burgeoning nature, Orange maintains its pace and authenticity as a rural region, where the word ‘community’ is not merely a buzzword, but instead, it’s the very heartbeat, and what makes this destination so appealing.
Here are just a few reasons why you should make a treechange to Orange — even if only for a short (but sweet) visit.
WHERE TO EAT:
From trendy cafes serving up innovative dishes using local produce, to gourmet local bakeries and fine dining restaurants, Orange offers a variety of glorious dining options. After all, this is where Australia’s longest running regional food festival, Orange F.O.O.D. Week (held annually in April) takes place, and surely that’s enough to catch the curiosity of any foodie.
Part of the nearby La Colline vineyard, Racine is an award-winning restaurant, famed for their excellence in food and service. This fine dining experience places a focus on the best local produce and a huge selection of local wines, matched only by its stunning, idyllic location. In addition to the restaurant, there’s also the adjoined charming venue space called The Apple Shed, available for larger groups and special events.
42 Lake Canobolas Road, Nashdale
Previously a bowling club, The Greenhouse of Orange was transformed into a multi dining venue in 2017, and quickly become a popular eatery locale. On site, there’s various kitchens available, offering multiple menus — all of which give a nod to the regional produce of Orange. There are also multiple sitting sections, including an indoor dining space filled with abundance of plants and an expansive open-air deck with raised garden beds to the side.
231-243 Anson Street, Orange
Having opened in 2011, Byng Street Cafe has become one of the leaders amongst the local café scene. The prominent location on the central Orange corner of Byng and Clinton St draws in the morning crowd, friendly catch-ups, business meetings — and anyone just grabbing a coffee to go. Seat yourself on the benches on the wrap around verandah, inside the main, bright and spacious dining area, or outside, within the sunny courtyard.
47 Byng Street, Orange
Ask any local where to go for the best Thai food in town and Sweet Sour Salt will be recommended proudly. And once you pay a visit to their new location, it will be easy to tell why. This buzzing restaurant now sits inside a tastefully renovated Victorian terrace and serves up a flavourful Thai menu with Chinese, Vietnamese, and Malaysian influences thrown into the mix. The Korean spicy fried chicken wings are an absolute must.
179 Anson Street, Orange
WHERE TO DRINK:
Home to a celebrated wine industry, Orange is the perfect place to swirl, smell and taste some of Australia’s best cool-climate drops. Spend your time wine tasting at the many cellar doors of acclaimed wineries, get recommendations as to what local tipple might go best with lunch, or even grab your favourite bottle for a scenic picnic amongst the vines.
One of Australia’s most celebrated winemakers, Philip Shaw Wines, established his own vineyard in Orange back in 1989. Today, this family-owned and operated winery, now run by three industrious members of the Shaw clan, consists of a tasting room, restaurant and wedding venue — all centered around a restored turn-of-the-century stone barn. Expect the wines here to have a bright fruit flavour with an intense elegance and complexity.
100 Shiralee Road, Orange
Nashdale Lane is a welcoming and unapologetically laidback winery, surrounded by rows upon rows of vineyards. Family owned and run, Nashdale has ‘sit back and relax’, written all over it. The light-filled Cellar Door invites visitors to sample their exceptional range of cool-climate wines, all whilst taking in the idyllic surrounding views through the many oversized, sliding windows. There’s also an onsite glamping experience, the only one of its kind in NSW (more on this below).
125 Nashdale Lane, Nashdale
Harvested by hand and crafted in small batches, Rowlee Wines & Vineyard is the epitome of quality over quantity, producing premium single-vineyard wines and the results (and awards) speak for themselves. Visit here for one of their various ‘Experiences’ offerings, including a ‘Picnic In The Vines’, where you can spend an indulgent afternoon on the estate with your very own private picnic — gourmet produce included.
42 Lake Canobolas Road, Nashdale
Housed in a carefully preserved heritage building, Ferment is an elegant wine centre where you can sample some of the Orange region's best wines, along with a matching cheese plate, should you wish. It’s the perfect place to stop for a pre-dinner drink, and you may just be tempted to take a bottle (or two) of your favourite home with you.
87 Hill Street, Orange
WHERE TO STAY:
A visit to Orange will no doubt involve some overindulgence of the food and wine variety, so a place to rest – and a beautiful one at that – will be in order. Whether you choose to book a stunning onsite hideaway at one of the many wineries, or a luxury self-contained villa with a secluded, scenic outlook — you can count on Orange to provide a beautiful backdrop during your stay.
Rowlee Wines & Vineyard (as seen above) also has its very own private, luxury guesthouse set within the estate. This lovingly renovated one-bedroom cottage displays a comfortable and sophisticated setting, with a single master bedroom, making it perfect for couples. There’s plenty of space to relax too, with double French doors that open onto a private verandah with views across the lush gardens.
19 Lake Canobolas Road, Orange
From $299 per night
Another winery with onsite accommodation, yet with a slightly more unique design, is Nashdale Lane’s luxury glamping tents, set right amongst the vines. The two spacious timber and canvas tents, named ‘Rustig’ and ‘Kalmte’, feature hardwood floors, kitchenette, comfortable queen bed, and a private toilet and shower facilities. There’s even a wood fire for the cooler months, and a cushioned deck seating, along with a BBQ — perfect for those warm summer evenings.
125 Nashdale Lane, Nashdale
From $250 per night
Specifically designed as a couples’ retreat, Lakeview Luxury Retreat offers clear views over Lake Canobolas, in separate spacious and modern 5-star villas. Along with your stay amongst the hills just outside of Orange, you’ll be provided with all the local ingredients to cook up your own breakfast in the self-contained kitchen, or on the BBQ out on the deck. And make a point to say hello to the friendly herd of Highland cattle who roam the adjoining paddocks.
Stanford Road, Orange
From $290 per night
WHERE TO EXPLORE:
Should you need a break from all that wining and dining, there’s plenty to explore in Orange in the form of some serious retail therapy. Take to either Byng Street, Summer Street, or Sale Street (or all three) for a boutique-shop-crawl, where you’ll find classic and country style homewares aplenty, but also a healthy dose of fresh, contemporary designs, tempting both locals and visitors.
The Sonic is a lovingly renovated old Masonic hall (hence the name, ‘Sonic’), housing three different stores — JUMBLED, a colourful display of homewares and lifestyle products, iglou, an adjoining fashion boutique stocking many trendy and current labels, as well as Nimrods, an intimate and relaxing cafe towards the back. The now white-washed hall has a grand presence from the street, with an equally impressive show going on inside. Best to put aside a decent amount of time treasure hunting here and make sure to grab a coffee to keep you company.
33-35 Sale Street, Orange
Of course, we'd love you to come and visit Orange for yourself! To start planning your visit, visit Orange 360.
Republished with full permission from Pauline Morrissey.