If your idea of a great getaway involves food, wine and a romantic rural setting, Tatyana Leonov recommends you set your GPS for one of the most fertile food zones in NSW.
Where is it?
Orange is located in the Central Tablelands region of NSW, 260km west of Sydney. Surrounded by farmland and with agriculture the main business, this is a fine place for a food lover to spend a weekend.
How to get here?
It’s an easy four-hour drive west of Sydney. Regional Express flies into Orange from Sydney four times a day Monday to Friday, and has two services daily on weekends. One-way flights from $142. www.rex.com.au
What’s so great about Orange?
It’s one of Australia’s leading gourmet destinations, offering world-class wines, fresh local produce and crisp mountain air. There are talented chefs, a flourishing restaurant scene, and popular annual food and wine festivals (in April and October). Orange is the place to take things slow: at a cellar door, try a merlot while chatting to the winemaker, take your kids berry picking, swing by a farm gate and try an apple straight off the tree. Or just sip an organic latte and watch the world go by.
Where to eat?
Eating goes hand and hand with “being” in Orange, so shops may also serve as cafés, wineries often house restaurants, and general stores sell homemade relishes, jams and sweets. There is an emphasis on local produce; Orange supports the 100 Mile Diet concept, which encourages eating and buying produce grown or made within 160km. This initiative supports the local community while giving food lovers the chance to eat fresh, tasty fare. Please note: many restaurants are open only on particular days of the week, so be sure to check the opening hours before you go.
• BISTRO CEELLO Relaxed bistro-style meals from chef Scott Want, formerly of the Union Bank Wine Bar. 179 Anson St; (02) 6361 1179; www.bistroceello.com.au
• FIORINI’S RISTORANTE Authentic traditional Italian fare in a rustic setting. Chefs Patrizia Fiorini and Marina Fedli originally hail from Rome and serve up simple, hearty meals in the charming cottage. 35 Canobolas Rd; (02) 6365 3863
• LOLLI REDINI (fondly known as Lollis in town) has won eight hats since its opening in 2001. The seasonal menu features truffles from Millthorpe, red venison from Mandagery Creek and Dutton Park ducks. Having run the kitchen for nine years, Simonn Hawke really knows how to make the most of the flavours. 48 Sale St; (02) 6361 7748; www.lolliredini.com.au
• RACINE Dine in leafy environs overlooking paddocks and vines at this award-winning restaurant at La Colline Vineyard. The chefs also make mouthwatering patisserie products that they sell at the Orange Farmers’ Market and to a few local stores. 42 Lake Canobolas Rd; www.racinerestaurant.com.au
• SISTER’S ROCK RESTAURANT at Borrodell on the Mount boasts magnificent, uninterrupted views of the Towac valley. 298 Lake Canobolas Rd; (02) 6365 3128;
• SWEET SOUR SALT For modern Asian-style dishes, this is the place to visit. 116 Summer St; (02) 6362 5191; www.sweetsoursalt.com.au
• TONIC RESTAURANT Definitely worth the 20-minute drive to historic and eccentric Millthorpe. Chef Tony Worland will delight you with simple concoctions such as Jannei goat’s curd ravioli with roasted beetroots and hazelnuts, or Cowra lamb loin with butternut pumpkin, braised lentils and caramelised eschallots. Corner of Pym and Victoria Sts, Millthorpe; (02) 6366 3811;
• ANYTHING GROWS For a bite amid blossoms and blooms. This is an all-in-one nursery, boutique homeware store and café. 54 Summer St; (02) 6361 4333; www.anythinggrows.com.au
• BILLS BEANS Coffee connoisseurs will point you here – the coffees are superb and you can also buy house-roasted beans and hand-blended teas to go, or sit down and try a Trunkey Creek chorizo roll. 148 McLachlan St; (02) 6361 1611; www.billsbeans.com.au
• SIMPLY NILE CAFÉ is housed in a cute cottage, with a lovely atmosphere inside and a leafy courtyard. 49 Nile St; (02) 6363 1991
Orange has an array of gardens, a lake and many parks, so stock up on local produce, then enjoy lunch on top of Mount Canobolas overlooking Orange and beyond, or watch kayakers and sailors at Lake Canobolas. Cook Park is also a lovely spot with fountains, a pond, rotunda and begonia house.
• A SLICE OF ORANGE Pick up a pre-made picnic hamper here. The range of regional produce includes homemade jams and relishes, Trunkey Creek smoked ham and bacon, and truffles (in season). Sisters Jess and Lisa Lovick ensure that all produce is fresh, and locally roasted Bills Beans coffee and teas are served in store alongside Racine sweets for those in need of a sweet snack. Shop 2, 200 Anson St; (02) 6369 0396; www.asliceoforange.com.au
• ORANGE FARMERS’ MARKETS If you’re in town on the second Saturday of the month, come here. The abundant local produce includes fresh fruit and vegetables – some organic – beef, lamb, fresh cows and goat’s milk and other delicacies. Stroll through and take in the wonderful aromas of cheese, chocolate and flowers, chat to stallholders and taste freshly picked fruit. Orange Showground, Agricultural Pavilion, Leeds Parade (May to October) and Northcourt behind the Visitor Information Centre (November to April); (02) 6365 2298; www.orangefarmersmarket.org.au
• ORANGE VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE also sells a decent local food range. 151 Byng St; 1800 069 466; www.orange.nsw.gov.au
• PARK GUILDRY Try a sweet treat while you’re in Cook Park. The handicrafts centre sells delicacies such as homemade coconut ice and rocky road among the knitted clothing, paintings and woodwork. Summer St; (02) 6362 5850; www.orange-nsw.com.parkguildry
• TOTALLY LOCAL Branded “your everyday farmers’ market”, this store proudly supports the 100 Mile Diet and stocks a large range of fresh regional produce and wines. 426 Mitchell Hwy; (02) 6360 4604; www.totallylocal.com.au
It’s easy to stumble upon all sorts of regional produce in Orange (except oranges!) so keep an eye out for roadside farm gates and boutique producers. On offer are chestnuts, hazelnuts, figs, berries, apples, honey, olives, vegetables, goat’s cheeses, poultry, herbs, flour, garlic, sheep, cattle, venison, pork and other small producers’ wares.
• BORRODELL ON THE MOUNT is the place for apples, plums, cherries, quinces (they make a delightful quince paste) and vino with a view. Borry Gartrell and Gaye Stuart-Nairen grow 170 heirloom apple varieties (with such quirky names as Peasgood Nonsuch and Dr Hogg), as well as 250 varieties of heritage plums, heritage cherries and quinces. They were also the first people to establish a truffiere in NSW over 10 years ago and they celebrate the harvest with an annual black-tie-and-gumboot dinner. There’s also a vineyard with a cellar door (try the pinot meunier-pinot noir-chardonnay). Sister’s Rock Restaurant can be found here and there are luxurious cabins on site for a private and picturesque stay. 298 Lake Canobolas Rd; (02) 6365 3425; www.borrodell.com.au
• FOURJAY FARMS create all kinds of hazelnut delicacies – muesli, macaroons, shortbread, ice-cream, and of course fresh-roasted hazelnuts. 1245 Forest Reefs Rd; (02) 6366 5131
• GELATO INGREDIENTS MANUFACTURERS OF AUSTRALIA Sweet-tooths will salivate over the gelati and sorbets on offer 30 minutes’ drive out of Orange. The company supplies gelato ingredients, fresh fruit and nuts direct to ice-cream makers and chefs, but also has a shopfront serving scrumptious flavours such as macadamia, burnt caramel, pistachio and hazelnut, and fresh fruit sorbets. You can get a tour if you call ahead. 90 Manildra Rd, Molong; (02) 6366 8288; www.gelatoingredients.com.au
• HILLSIDE ORCHARD Just outside Orange, this orchard offers fig and cherry picking. You can also purchase pre-picked berries.
1209 Escort Way, Borenore; (02) 6365 2247
• HUNTLEY BERRY FARM Berry picking is a great family day out. In season, you can pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and gooseberries. Huntley Rd; (02) 6365 5282
• MANDAGERY CREEK Another family company; its lean and healthy deer meat features on many local restaurant menus. (02) 6365 6171; www.mandagerycreek.com.au
• NORLAND FIG ORCHARD Pick figs here towards the end of the season. Make sure you try the fig ice-cream. Bradley Rd, Borenore; (02) 6365 2225
• PALING YARDS GROVE In Cudal, 35km from Orange, is this gorgeous orchard known for its quality olives and award-winning olive oils. (02) 6365 6160; www.palingyardsgrove.com.au
• SONYA BEGG SNAILS Sonya breeds free-range snails at the Ross Hill vineyard.
0408 659 730; www.snailfarming.net
• TRUNKEY CREEK MEAT PROCESSING PLANT This family business comprises Fred and Zanzie D’Souza, along with Zanzie’s mum, Raewyn, daughters and friends. They produce a large variety of pork (double-smoked, fresh, pickled, cured) as well as hams, speck, sausages, salami and more. Call ahead and pop in to see how they create this wonderful produce. Shop 3, 68 Endsleigh Ave (butchery).
(02) 6369 1381; www.trunkey.com.au
Where to drink?
Grapes have been grown in Orange since the 19th century, and the region offers an impressive variety reflecting the range of elevations. The unique climate and soil (from the volcanic basalt of Mount Canobolas to the reddish clay further afield) also play a role. Widely planted vines include shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, along with merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. There are around 40 wineries and 30 cellar doors, and you may find yourself chatting to the winemaker as they pour you a glass.
• BORRODELL ON THE MOUNT If you’re not already dining, sleeping or checking out the farm gate here, the cellar door is a must. It has sparking varieties to a world-famous level. 298 Lake Canobolas Rd; (02) 6365 3425;
• ORANGE HIGHLAND WINES AND GARDENS Four acres of manicured gardens provide a stunning backdrop for tastings – try the viogniers. 131 Nashdale Lane, Nashdale. (02) 6365 60012; www.orangehighland.com.au
• PHILIP SHAW WINES Philip 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. Caldwell Lane. (02) 6365 3422;
• OTHER GREAT VINEYARDS: Bloodwood, Mayfield Vineyard, Canobolas-Smith, Word of Mouth and Brangayne of Orange.
• BADLANDS BREWERY produces an English-style pale ale as well as traditional beers.
426 Mitchell Hwy. 0411 025 437;
• SMALL ACRES CYDER For premium cool-climate cider, visit James and Gail Kendell, who make them using fresh juice from proper cider apples. 12 Akhurst Rd, Borenore;
(02) 6365 2286; www.smallacrescyder.com.au
Pub life is an important part of Orange culture. Expect top-notch nosh in most pubs.
• GLADSTONE HOTEL If you like pubs the way they used to be, this traditional-style watering hole will suit. 71 Byng St; (02) 6362 3590
• HOTEL CANOBOLAS Good for a swish drink. Cnr Summer St and Lords Pl; (02) 6362 2444
• PARKVIEW HOTEL Enjoy a modern Australian-style meal here. 281 Summer St; (02) 6361 7014; www.parkvieworange.com.au
• ROBIN HOOD HOTEL Spacious, and with a family-friendly restaurant. Burrendong Way; (02) 6363 1999
• UNION BANK WINE BAR A classy spot for a premium drop (and fine food too). Choose from an extensive, award-winning wine list, or indulge in the apertifs and tapas. Its wine store sells more than 500 locals wines to take home. Cnr Byng and Sale Sts; 1300 721 731;
Where to stay?
Accommodation abounds, with traditional B&Bs and more glam boutique stays aplenty. Here are some stand-outs:
• B&B ON THE PARK An immaculately kept historic home with beautiful furnishings and gorgeous gardens. Opposite Cook Park on Kite St; (02) 6362 2857; www.onthepark.com.au
• DE RUSSIE SUITES Just one block away from the main street, within walking distance of some great places to dine, you’ll find this sophisticated, European-style apartment hotel. 72 Hill St; (02) 6360 0973;
• TURNERS VINEYARD MOTEL Overlooking the Lucknow Valley, this 4.5-star AAA-rated motel has loads of accommodation options, from studio rooms to two-bedroom spa villas. 4929 Mitchell Hwy; (02) 6369 1045;
Note: A Slice of Orange and Borrodell on the Mount also offer accommodation (see above).
• PLATYPUS HOLLOW A 20-minute drive out of Orange, this historic homestead is in a gorgeous 30-acre setting. Overseas visitors and locals alike will love the platypus-spotting potential here. Mitchell Hwy, Molong; (02) 6366 9166; www.platypushollow.com.au
• HOCKEYS Ten minutes from Orange in Millthorpe, you’ll find two gorgeous one-bedroom B&B-style stays – one in an old chemist’s shop, complete with retro pharmacy cabinets, the other in a Victorian-era cottage. Both have chic country-style interiors and welcoming touches such as wine and cheese on arrival. Park St, Millthorpe;
• THE OLD CONVENT Also 10 minutes from Orange. Great in winter for its log fireplace, this two-bedroom cottage is a treat. Owner Josie Chapman is a real foodie and a stay here is worth it for the breakfasts alone. Café open every Sunday. Lot 1 Borenore-Convent Rd, Borenore; (02) 6365 2420