You could fill your entire Orange itinerary with winery visits, but we’ve got a fair few other gems you’ll want to make time for too.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out the appeal of a trip to Orange, it’s surrounded by one of the most prolific wine regions in NSW after all. Magnificent cool-climate wines are a given but this Central Tablelands city – which was once in the running to be the capital city of Australia – has numerous other charms that beg for a place on your itinerary.
Uncover the regional city’s storytelling past; from the cultural heritage of the traditional owners, the Wiradjuri people, to the gold rush history of the 1800s, storytelling has always been part of the local DNA here. Then there is the award-winning restaurants, boutique shops and the quintessential Australian countryside to explore. Get ready to soak up all this romantic region has to offer with our picks of the best things to do in Orange.
Soak up the scenic country views across Borrodell Vineyard. (Image: Destination NSW)
Sample Orange’s best regional produce
It takes very little effort to sink your teeth into some of the regional city’s best produce. You’re likely to stumble across roadside farm gates and boutique producers without even trying. But there are a handful of producers you won’t want to miss.
Borrodell Estate is the place for farm-fresh apples, plums, cherries, quinces (they also make a delightful quince paste) and offer a vino with a view. While Fourjay Farms produce all kinds of hazelnut delicacies – muesli, macaroons, shortbread, ice-cream, and of course fresh-roasted hazelnuts.
Huntley Berry Farm is a great family day out. When in season, you can pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and gooseberries with the kids. Although, once you’ve tried freshly-picked berries store-bought ones just won’t compare. Norland Fig Orchard also allows visitors to pick their own figs towards the end of the season – don’t miss out on trying the fig ice-cream while you’re there.
Mandagery Creek is another family-run company; its lean and healthy deer meat features on the menu of many local restaurants. While Paling Yards Grove in Cudal, 35 kilometres outside of Orange, is a gorgeous orchard known for its quality olives and award-winning olive oils – find them on sale at numerous farmers markets (including the Orange Farmers Market) and retail outlets in Orange and surrounds.
Sample the fresh produce in Orange. (Image: Destination NSW)
Explore the great outdoors of Orange
The crisp morning air in Orange provides an exhilarating alertness to the start of your day – all the more reason to get out there early and immerse yourself in its surrounding countryside.
Start with a brisk walk along the Summit Walking Track of Mount Canobolas. The 1,395-metre-high dormant volcano features subalpine scenery and is often covered in a blanket of snow come winter. There are also a number of other interconnecting longer walks if you’re up for more of a challenge.
Just south of Orange, the popular Gosling Creek Reserve has walking and cycling pathways to explore. To the north, discover The Falls Water Falls, which cascades down into Summer Hills Creek along the Central Mines trail.
Lake Canobolas is a great spot for birdwatching. Nearby, Towac Pinnacle makes for a spectacular outlook. And if it’s views you’re after the cellar doors of Printhie, De Salis, Ross Hill and Rowlee Wines boast some of the best in Orange.
Explore the limestone caves of Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve and marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites. Take the easy 3.5-kilometre walk along Boree Creek trail to Verandah Cave to reach the tranquil creek and if you’re quiet you might even spot the shy platypus that call this creek home.
Orange is also home to many lovely parks that are perfect for a picnic or to spend an afternoon whiling away your time in the sun. Head to Orange Botanic Gardens, Robertson Park and Cook Park.
Robertson Park is the perfect spot for a picnic in Orange. (Image: Destination NSW)
Plot your route along the winery trail in Orange
There are more than 40 wineries and 30 cellar doors in Orange and ticking them all off is the mother of all bucket lists – and probably not achievable in one visit to Orange, so we’ve got a few highlights to get you started.
Borrodell Estate is a heavy-hitter in the region. If you’re not already dining, sleeping or checking out the farm here, the cellar door is a must. The sparkling wine varieties are famous the world over.
Philip of Phillip Shaw Wines started his label at Koomooloo vineyard in 1988. It’s one of the highest vineyards in Australia and produces some memorable and very collectable wines.
Rowlee Wines finds production inspiration from the Dalmatian wine country on the Adriatic coast of Croatia; the place where the family tradition of grape growing and winemaking began. A visit today is a lesson in European heritage and new-world practice, showcased within a contemporary cellar door.
These are just three of many. Our extensive guide to the best wineries and cellar doors in Orange can be found here.
The view from the accommodation at Borrodell Estate. (Image: Destination NSW)
Followed by a pub crawl
Pub life is an important part of the culture in Orange and you can expect top-notch nosh and pints in just about every pub you enter.
If you like pubs the way they used to be, the Gladstone Hotel – a traditional-style watering hole – will suit nicely. Then there is The Hotel Orange, the oldest pub in the region, located in the heart of Byng Street. Here, catch live music and conventional pub grub.
The Union Bank building is home to The Art House Bar & Courtyard and adjoining Schoolhouse Restaurant. (Image: Destination NSW)
Parkview Hotel is the place to enjoy a modern Australian-style meal. At the Robin Hood Hotel, find a spacious, family-friendly restaurant. The Lord Anson has 50 craft beers on tap, locally sourced food and plenty of regulars.
Union Bank building on Byng Street first opened its doors in 1858 as Orange’s first bank. Now, punters sip on ale or local wine at The Art House Bar & Courtyard before heading for dinner at the adjoining Schoolhouse Restaurant. If you’re looking for more places to eat and drink, Birdie Noshery & Drinking is a community focused hang out that delivers a relaxed atmosphere, a wine list full of local standouts with cocktails and craft beers thrown in for good measure, and a dining menu that will take you from brunch to dinner.
Birdie Noshery & Drinking is a rather special local hangout and a great place for a drink and a meal.
And (if you’re still standing) a beer and distillery crawl
We weren’t kidding – Orange is a gastronome’s heaven. Visitors who want to enjoy local drops will not be left short of options thanks to a number of specialty retailers around town.
Badlands Brewery should be your first stop. This award-winning microbrewery pours dangerously drinkable beers. Tasting paddles, six on-tap beers, and the entire Badlands packaged range are available for purchase on site.
Parrot Distilling Co. is established in the centre of Orange. The gin has truly taken flight, offering three flagship styles as well as seasonal gins that showcase the region.
Pioneer Brewing Co. can be found on a rural farming property 25 minutes outside of Orange. The team run a unique brewery and farming operation with all malting grain grown on the farm, then harvested and made onsite. Pioneer Brewing Co. create beers with a fresh and clean finish on the palate – thanks to the rain water used in the brewing process.
Jones and Smith Distillery is a family-owned craft distillery found in Spring Hill, between Orange and Millthorpe. Spirits (boutique gin and whiskey) are 100 per cent authentically crafted and aged in the heart of the Central West.
The Parrot Distilling Co. has a range of gins on offer. (Image: Amy Barrington)
Spend your evenings stargazing in Orange
Turn your eyes towards the night skies in Central NSW and you’ll spot a pretty spectacular sight. According to John Sarkissian, operations scientist at CSIRO Parkes Observatory and a founding member of the Central West Astronomical Society, “The Central West boasts some of the darkest skies in Australia and is a wonderful place to appreciate the marvels of the night sky.”
“Visitors to the region are amazed by the number of stars that are visible, which is something they never see from light-polluted city skies,” he says.
In Orange, skies are clearest between March and October. To make a weekend of it, grab tickets to the Orange Winter Fire Festival. August sees Orange and Millthorpe host a whole swag of events, including one where Indigenous astronomers share the local Wiradjuri people’s knowledge of the cosmos.
One the best night sky vantage points, Lake Canobolas, Orange NSW (Image: Jenny Davidson)
Explore historic towns and villages
Orange and its surrounding towns are filled with a whole host of experiences you won’t find anywhere else. The birthplace of Banjo Patterson, the rich agricultural land and undulating hills all make for such an inspiring setting that you will be penning sonnets in no time.
Canowindra sits beside the Belubula River in the beautiful red-earth countryside. Well known for hot air ballooning and fish fossil discoveries (the town became famous in 1955 when a 360-million-year-old fossil was found), today it is also an arts and tourism hub.
One-street towns aren’t usually graced with a hatted restaurant, but Millthorpe in central New South Wales is not your run-of-the-mill country town. This heritage town is classified by the National Trust and nestled in a cool-climate wine region. The hatted Tonic is a Millthorpe icon and a trip to Orange isn’t complete without a dinner cooked by Chef Tony Worland.
Tonic is a highly-awarded, refined and relaxed contemporary restaurant housed within a heritage-listed building. (Image: Destination NSW)
Lyndhurst was also on the coveted short-list of sites for our nation’s capital at one point in history. It’s the closest ‘CBD’ to Lyndhurst Goldfields and prospered in the late 1800s as a result. These days it’s known for its thriving agricultural industry and is surrounded by green pastures and picturesque waterways.
Find the heart of bushranger country in Eugowra. It was at nearby Escort Rock that the infamous Frank Gardiner pulled off the biggest gold robbery in Australian history, stealing 77 kilograms of gold, and £3,700 in cash. Locals have immortalised this notorious past with murals throughout the town celebrating their unique history. Find out more at the Historical Museum and Bushranger Centre.
See Orange through the eyes of its traditional owners
Some of the cultural experiences on offer in Orange have been 65,000 years in the making and the Indigenous Cultural Adventures is one of the best on offer.
Indigenous Cultural Adventures was founded by local man, Gerald Power, with a vision to share the heritage and cultural knowledge of the region’s Wiradjuri nation with both visitors and residents alike.
Gerald Power, Owner and Founder of Indigenous Cultural Adventures in Orange. (Image: Destination NSW)
“We wish to take the public on a journey about the First Nations People, and it’s about sharing our culture and heritage through experience of our country and the food that we have consumed and survived on for 50,000 years,” he explains.
All cultural tours are hosted by local Elders. Small to large groups will be guided through significant sites, ending with a meal from Bush Tucka – the other part of Gerald’s business. The company made its debut at Barangaroo Food and Wine Festival, cooking up kangaroo sliders and pies to attendees.
Book a Bush Tucka tasting to enjoy the likes of native spiced emu on wombok with bush pesto or kangaroo and chorizo skewer with spiced bush tomato and native herb relish.