Orange is a different part of Australia. The city of 40,000 inhabitants is nestled among the Great Dividing Range’s rolling hills, three hours from Sydney. Surrounded by green leafy parks and wild shrubbery, it is an unusually lush city. Orange rests at a high altitude which contributes to the city’s favourable climate. Higher altitude means cooler temperatures. There are four different seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. Every season transforms Orange. Autumn presents a spectacular play of colours, with foliage that glows in shades of copper and gold. It can get cold in winter, and occasional a glistening quilt of snow embeds the city. The high altitude along with abundant sunshine makes the region exemplary for viticulture. This is evident during a trip through, with about forty vineyards scattered across the fields of Orange. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc is grown here. Also, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Merlot. Many vineyards welcome visitors to their wine cellar. So do not miss an opportunity to try something new and learn about the craftsmanship that lies behind the worldwide popular wines.
There is an abundance of orchards in Orange. But despite its name, there is no connection to either the fruit orange or the colour orange. Instead, the city has been named after a prince. However, there are plenty of juicy cherries, apples and grapes. It also provides opportunities for seasonal work as a fruit picker. The love of local produce is summoned up in two annual food and wine festivals. Orange Food Week held in April and the two-week long Orange Wine Festival held during October.
A visit to Orange is a trip for the palate. The region is famous for its fresh produce of highest quality. And much revolves around food and drinks here. The city’s chefs are proud to do their magic using local ingredients. Orange is in many ways a city where residents live in symbiosis with each other. This is a tribute to the simple, but good life. The city centre is beautiful and full of buildings in colonial-style. There are many small shops to visit. You do not need a car to get around the city centre, however, if you plan to see more of the area it may be a good idea to use a car or a bike. Because just around the corner, scenic surroundings await. Visit Mount Cano bolas, an inactive volcano that points up to the sky. Activate the body by hiking, biking or swimming. Then fill your tummy and relax at one of the Bed and Breakfasts around the city.
Sights and experiences
For assistance in planning an appropriate route for your stay in Orange, visit the Visitor Information Centre. Within the city centre, there are lots of shops to take a closer look at. In the heart of the city centre lies Cook Park. The park covers four and a half hectares of ground. During the autumn, the park is a particularly beautiful place, with plenty of trees with leaves shifting in glowing colours. In summer, the canopy creates plenty of shady places to settle down for a picnic. There are also benches if you want to rest your legs for a while. The park has a few ponds and access to toilets. A little bit outside the city centre is Lake Cano bolas. It is a beautiful lake that gets its water from Molong Creek. During summer, you can swim or canoe in the lake. Fishing is also possible. From the north side of the lake, you will find the start of a trail shared between cyclists and pedestrians. The trail loop over Molong Creek and then back again. It takes about half an hour to walk the entire loop.
Leave Pinnacle Road and follow the track up the hill. After a steep climb you will reach the Pinnacle Lookout where you get a magnificent view of the area. Mount Cano bolas is the highest peak in the area. It is an inactive volcano at a height of 1,395 m (nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Summits-walking-track/visitor-info). The track to reach the mountain top is steep, but there are easier tracks within the Mount Cano bolas State Conservation Area. Once a month, Orange Farmers Markets is arranged (orangefarmersmarket.org.au). On the second Saturday of each month, local delicacies are displayed on long tables. Pyramids of fresh fruit but also eggs, bread, beer, cheese, meat, nuts, juices and sauces. The produce varies according to season, just like the market’s position is shifting during the year. Therefore, look at the website to see what applies. The entrance fee is around a few dollars.
There are lots of vineyards around Orange. Selecting a few is not an easy task. If you have any specific requests for wine varieties, it may be worth studying the area before a visit. Philip Shaw Winery (philipshaw.com.au) is located at 100 Shiralee Road and is well worth a visit. The highest point of the winery Kumolo is located at 900 meters above sea level. Only a few of Australia’s vineyards are located at a high altitude, making this vineyard unique. It is open between 11:00 and 17:00 every day. Sit outside and test a variety of wines, from spicy Shiraz to crisp, dry Chardonnay with fantastic views of the rolling hills. Heifer Station (heiferstation.com) at 1034 The Escort Way is open five days a week between Wednesday and Sunday. In 2009, the vineyard was bought by the couple Stevens who carried out a full-scale renovation. They have won a prize for their Shiraz and are known to mix their varieties, like a rosé that consists of Merlot and Shiraz. Tastings are carried out in a century-old remade barn. As a mascot, they have a mini pony that wanders around the estate, happily greeting visitors.
Another way to sample local wines is together with Orange Wine Tours (orangewinetours.com.au). Join them on a tour around several vineyards, wine tasting included. Or add a little extra and you’ll get lunch served. They can also tailor a tour to your liking. If you feel like getting around on your own, you can rent an electric bike.
There is a generous selection of dining options in Orange. From low-key cafes to classy restaurants. Here, the region’s own products are well taken care of. Scrumptious on Summer (scrumptiousonsummer.com.au) at 142-146 Summer Street is a great favourite among visitors. Everything is homemade and they mainly use local ingredients. Sit down or have takeaway. They are open every day of the week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The number one restaurant in the city centre is Lolli Remini (lolliredini.com.au) at 48 Sale Street. Don’t miss this stylish restaurant. They have modern, well-thought-out dishes based on local ingredients. If you have trouble deciding, why not choose a three-course dinner. Pre-booking is a must.
With an abundance of fresh produce and wines, it is no wonder that the locals want to celebrate their products. Two annual events that revolve around food and wine are Orange Food Week (orangefoodweek.com.au) in April and Orange Wine Festival in October (orangewinefestival.com.au). Both festivals are a chance for local manufacturers and growers to showcase their hard work while visitors get a taste of what the region has to offer.
Good to know
Orange Visitor Information Centre is located at 151 Byng Street. You will find heaps of information about what to do and where to stay during your visit. They are happy to help with bookings and to set up an appropriate itinerary. The centre is open between 09:00 and 17:00 every day of the week.
Seasons and work
Apples, cherries and grapes are grown around Orange. Contact the Visitor Information Centre for help with getting seasonal work as a fruit picker or read more at Harvest Trail (jobsearch.gov.au/harvest). Between February and May is apple season, and Cherry is ready to be picked between November and January. Grapes are picked between February and April. Between June and August, the vines are cropped.
Getting to Orange is easy. Orange airport is located 15 kilometres from the city centre (wotif.com/Flights). The easiest way is to take a taxi to and from the airport. There are flights to and from Sydney with Regional Express. If you are flying to another city, you will have to change planes in Sydney. The distance between Orange and Canberra is 280 km, and it is 254 km between Orange and Sydney. You can take a bus with Australia Wide Coaches (austwidecoaches.com.au) between Orange and Sydney via Bathurst, but trains are also available. Car hire is another convenient option (wotif.com/Car-Hire).
If you don’t mind staying some distance from the city centre, you can camp for free within the Mount Cano bolas State Conservation Area. The area is called Federal Falls Campground (nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/Federal-Falls-campground) and is located on the corner of Mount Cano bolas Road and Towaco Way. There are no signposted campsites on the grounds, just put your tent up where it suits you. You cannot pre-book a campsite, it is first-come, first-served basis that applies. From here, you’ll be close to Federal Falls Walk, Snow gum track and Hopetoun Falls track, for example.
Budget rooms are available at Rocky Rest (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Rocky_Rest.htm). Here you can get a room from 100 dollars per night and breakfast included. For a slightly higher price, try Town Square Motel (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Town_Square_Motel.htm). This old-fashioned hotel is simple and affordable. The hotel has 29 rooms with private bathrooms. It is clean and tidy and has a perfect location.
De Russia boutique hotel (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/De_Russie_Boutique_Hotel.htm) has 25 high standard suites for rent. This is one of the most luxurious options around Orange. Prices vary greatly and can reach up to 400 dollars per night. But check their website for last minute deals to access a room from 150 dollars a night. Continental breakfast is included. The hotel is centrally located at 72 Hill Street. There are also plenty of bed and breakfasts around Orange. If you have access to a car, this can be a nicer alternative than staying in a hotel. Black Sheep Inn (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Black_Sheep_Inn_Borenore.htm) has been redesigned from barn to award-winning B&B. Here, you stay a bit outside the city, surrounded by green hills. The owners are most happy to share their knowledge about Orange and the region.