Take a road trip through regional NSW and arrive in Orange
Like many Australians, I’ve travelled extensively through Europe, America and beyond. But I’ve hardly explored my own backyard of regional NSW. I’d never been to Bathurst, Forbes or Orange. It was a sad truth that needed to be rectified with a good old fashioned road trip. Need one yourself?
Hop in your car and follow the windy roads that lead you through Central NSW. You will find yourself admiring our beautiful country – from the valleys of forest in the Blue Mountains to the dusty plains of Forbes. With a bounty of vineyards, wine and local produce waiting for you in Orange, the short 3.5 hour drive is well worth it. Hit the roads this summer and check out these destinations along the way!
Before you hit the roads, set up a Spotify playlist that will see you through hours of ‘outback’ driving. (Try Ms Darlinghurst’s ultimate driving playlist here). Then head west on the Great Western Highway out of Sydney. Once you get past the hustle and bustle of the city you will start climbing towards the Blue Mountains.
The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains is a stunning Australian landmark perfect for locals and tourists alike. Even if you stop for just 10 minutes to take in the view, it’s worth darting off the highway on your way out west.
Just a few minutes away from Katoomba is Leura, a one street town that offers local artisans the chance to show of their artistic skills. You will find Josaphan’s Fine Chocolates in Leura – where they sell handcrafted chocolates with many unique flavours. Just around the corner is a restaurant called Leura Garage. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but inside you’ll find walls of grungy-chic ornaments. Hanging shelves are full of local wines, old tyres stacked on the far wall as well as an old iron frame from an old train track. Try the Garage Burger with Kanimbla Valley beef, Trunkey Creek bacon, provolone, rocket, tomato chutney and house mayo.
If you are looking for one more breathtaking view before you leave the Blue Mountains, detour off the highway to Evans Lookout and take a panoramic shot of Grose Valley.
Then make your way to Bathurst
This old Gold Rush town, shows signs of Australian history everywhere that you look. Take a brief walk down King’s Parade, see the War Memorial Carillon or the landmark Court House + Bathurst District Historical Museum. History aside, hop back in your car and take your chance to do a victory lap at Mount Panorama. Mount Panorama, also known as Mount Panorama, Motor Racing Circuit Bathurst, is a landmark of Bathurst and as soon as your tyres hit the track you will see why. It’s so smooth you’ll picking up speed without even having your foot on the accelerator. If you can, check out the view from the top of the mountain – it’s spectacular.
Head to Orange
Just 45 minutes away from Bathurst, you will find Orange. Famous for the abundance of wine from local vineyards, plus local farmers produce – Orange is a true showcase of the ‘paddock to plate’ movement. Many of the restaurants in Orange showcase seasonal produce and match the dishes with wines from the area. Make a reservation at Racine, where their moto is ‘rural doesn’t have to mean rustic’. The restaurant sits amongst vineyards and green fields, here you can enjoy a five course degustation with matching local wines. We highly recommend the cured ocean trout with carrot escabeche, pickled lemon and almonds. The texture of the crisp carrots, is well balanced with the soft quinoa and watercress.
Orange sits at the base of Mount Canobolas, where the soil is rich with nutrients – lending itself to a wide variety of seasonal produce and grape growing grounds. Interestingly, Orange is the highest-altitude wine region in Australia. Choose a few of the many vineyards around Orange and enjoy a selection of wines from their cellar doors. The locals recommend Colmar Estate, which recently won two gold medals at the NSW Wine Awards for their 2015 Colmar Estate Riesling and the 2014 Colmar Estate Pinot Noir. From the tasting table, you can literally see the plots where each wine was grown.
If you are looking for a place to stay, the boutique hotel de Russie Suites has excellent service and is just a minutes walk from the centre of town. The suites themselves are very functional with an appropriate siezed kitchen and bathroom so that you can stay in your room for more than just a snooze. From the hotel, you can wander across the road to Ferment – The Orange Wine Centre, which is open until late (indicated by a wine barrel out the front) and has a wide variety of wines on offer for you to try.
In the morning, walk around the corner to Byng Street Cafe. There are many locals who come here everyday for their morning brew – with some of the smoothest Allpress coffee in town. There are a small number of breakfast options available, mostly takeaway for those who are grabbing a quick bite before work. The owner has plans for developing the cafe into a larger space for dinners and parties.
If you want to travel a little further, go to Forbes
In early December the town comes to life with Vanfest, this music festival is only in its second year and is already pulling big name performers. This year John Butler Trio headlined drawing a crowd of thousands, alongside stand out performances from Birds of Tokyo, Sticky Fingers and Rudimental. Pitch a tent in the Forbes Showground, then don your festival gear – it’s about to get DUSTY! Like sand, this red country dust will find its way into the creases of your shorts, the case on your phone and most notably your shins + feet! To see the John Butler Trio play to a pumping crowd, it’s a small price to pay.
After the festival, you will find yourself in the small country town of Forbes…but don’t run away just yet, there are a few things you should check out before you go. Forbes was set up as a gold rush town, where unfortunately the miners didn’t strike big money as they have hoped. Most of the population left and a few families stayed on, working the land to rear livestock and farm. Locals spend their weeks working hard on the land, with agriculture being one of the biggest money makers in Forbes. When the weekend rolls around, you will find many people picnic’ing on the banks for the Lachlan River. Don’t let the muddy waters fool you, the water is cool and great for a dip.
If you still want more, check out Destination NSW for events, destinations and more!
A special thank you to Destination NSW, for arranging this trip to Central NSW and showing me a new part of Australia.