Take a road trip 3.5 hours out of Sydney through the Blue Mountains, past Bathurst and you’ll find yourself in Orange, aka wine country.
Orange is fast becoming one of Australia’s best wine regions and with that comes a strong gourmet food scene. At a glance you have 80 vineyards, 30+ cellar doors and 47 cafes and that’s just in the town of Orange. Dotted around the surrounding countryside are wonderful little towns to discover, each with their own quirks and charms. Whether it’s a winter weekend curled up by the fire or a spring time road trip there is plenty to do all year round in Orange. With a mix of friendly country hospitality and cosmopolitan lifestyle here are our hot picks on where to eat, drink, play and more in Orange.
This beautiful, rustic restaurant overlooks a vineyard on the foothills of Mt Canobolas and offers relaxed but refined service and exceptional food. Owners Shaun and Willa Arantz support local farmers and suppliers in and around Orange on their menu. Next to the restaurant is a large venue for weddings and events. Racine also have a bakery in town selling a selection of organic sourdoughs, cakes, pastries and pies all made daily, by hand. Their croissants are legendary and sell out every morning.
This cafe is a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. It’s busy most days of the week, especially on the weekends. It’s the place to go for great coffee and a delicious breakfast menu. You’ll find classic breakfast items like bacon and eggs along with some really nice seasonal dishes.
Lolli Redini is another popular restaurant in Orange. Established in 2001 it’s won numerous Chef Hats and is known for it’s contemporary Italian and French influenced food using mostly local produce and other specially sourced items.
The Agrestic Grocer is a cafe, cellar door, live music venue and gourmet grocer. They’re open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and host beer and cheese tastings at their cellar door. Pop in and grab yourself some gourmet treats from the grocer including local cheeses, jams, preserves and more. It’s an essential stop if you’re planning on spending a night in with a good bottle of Orange wine.
Harvested by hand and crafted in small batches, Rowlee produces premium single-vineyard wines utilising varieties suited to a cool climate and high altitude including Arneis, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Nebbiolo, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Settle in for a wine tasting or keep an eye on their website for upcoming events. They regularly host different food and wine experiences, especially around key Orange festival dates.
Nashdale Lane is a family owned and run vineyard and winery surrounded by orchards, olive groves, sheep and cattle farms with views to the iconic peaks of Mount Canobolas. They also have onsite luxury glamping accommodation. Their cellar door is open 7 days a week – their Nashdale Lane 2018 Shiraz is incredible make sure you try this no matter what. You can enhance your wine tasting experience with matching cheeses and charcuterie.
Enjoy an afternoon at Heifer Station Wines, one of Orange’s busiest and most popular cellar doors. They host wine tastings in their 100 year old wool shed. The Heifer Station “The Bull Paddock” Chardonnay is amazing and goes very well with one of their signature cheese boards. Heifer Station’s cellar door is particular great if you have kids. They have a petting zoo onsite with lots of animals including pigs, goats and a friendly alpaca named Snowy.
The old Orange Ex Services Club has been renovated and is now The Greenhouse of Orange. On the weekends it’s a hot spot of locals with different fire pits, food and drink specials and live music.
There are lots of great boutique fashion and homewares stores to discover in Orange. One place you must visit is The Sonic, situated in a stunning old building which was once the Masonic hall is now a mecca for quirky homewares, art works from emerging artists and on-trend womens fashion, clothes and accessories. There’s also a cafe inside but be warned, a simple coffee may turn into a big splurge with so many fun and inspiring pieces for sale. Other stores to check out in Orange include The White Place and Hawkes General Store .
Federal Falls Bush Walk
With all of that eating and drinking you might need to walk it off. The Federal Falls bush walk is a 4km loop track that starts and finishes at Federal Falls campground, passing through snow gum forest and past gigantic rock faces on its way down to Federal Falls. If you’re there after the rain, you’ll be in for a pretty sight.
There are a number of Airbnb properties you can book in Orange but if you really want to embrace country life and stay somewhere unique book into The Black Sheep Inn. Situated just 10 minutes out of town this 5-bedroom boutique accomodation is a converted wool shed. The property’s original shearing shed has been transformed into a modern and stylish bed and breakfast accommodation. Owner Helen makes a delicious breakfast in the morning and is really accomodating. If you’ve got a group of friends book out the whole venue and arrange a chef to come in cater. Or if it’s just two of you cuddle up with a bottle of wine and snacks from Agrestic Grocer by the fireplace.
Orange is a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney and a 3 hour drive from Canberra. It is well-serviced by rail and bus, and has a local airport for 1 hour direct daily flights from Sydney. If you don’t feel like driving check out Eco Luxe Transfers. Use your travel time better by getting a seat in the amazing Tesla Model X to travel from Orange-Sydney, Orange-Dubbo and beyond. You can book the whole car or just a seat in the car. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Stopover at Millthorpe
Millthorpe is a picturesque heritage-listed village just 20 minutes southeast of Orange and is the perfect stop over on your way through. Located just a short stroll from Millthorpe’s main street, Rosebank Guesthouse incorporates a cottage guesthouse, B&B, gallery and art space. The beds are really comfortable and the owners are very friendly. Be sure to make a dinner reservation at Tonic Restaurant. Established in 2003 by owners Tony and Nicole Worland, Tonic restaurant is just down the road from Rosebank Guesthouse. You wouldn’t expect such a high calibre, fine dining menu in a small country town like Millthorpe but that’s what makes Tonic such a surprise and delight. It’s regularly been awarded a Chef Hat and you can see why.
For The Diary
(Friday 18 October – Sunday 27 October 2019)
Orange Wine Festival will be in its 14th year in 2019 Consists of 7 Signature events and 80+ satellite events. Full 2019 program, subscribe and more info available at orangewinefestival.com.au
(Friday 27 March – Sunday 5 April 2020)
Orange F.O.O.D Week is Australia’s longest running regional food festival. Since its inception in 1991, it has become one of the district’s most loved events, by both locals and visitors alike. It runs over 10 days in April, showcasing the region’s high quality food and wine, and celebrating the local farmers, producers, winemakers, chefs and caterers who have helped position Orange NSW as one of Australia’s most aspirational culinary tourism destinations.
Orange Winter Fire Festival August 2020 (dates to be announced)
The three-day festival showcases Orange and its surrounding villages at its winter best. Expect bonfire events, char-grilled feasts, campfire cooking, boutique shopping, award-winning wine, arts and crafts, and artisan makers.
Featured image: Heifer Station Facebook