Visit charming nearby villages, gorge on hyperlocal produce and award-winning wine, take to the skies in a hot air balloon, or spend time in the company of giraffes – there’s plenty to see and do in this scenic pocket of country NSW.
Whether you’ve exhausted your options in Orange (an endeavour that may take some time and a fair bit of effort) or you’re just itching to get out and explore more of the Central Tablelands, these day trip ideas should just about cover every base. From leisurely outings to neighbouring towns full of country hospitality to full-on, full-day touring at a big local zoo with the kids, these five day trips from Orange provide some food for thought.
A scenic 20-minute drive west of Orange lands you at the door of small rural community Borenore (population sub-500). The prime draws for this pastoral community are food- and drink-led: cool climate wineries, sprawling orchards and cute farmgates.
Choose from a variety of highly rated boutique wineries, such as the rustic Heifer Station Wines, or neighbouring family-owned Orange Mountain Wines. Those travelling with kids should make a beeline for the former, home to a petting zoo and farm with goats, chooks, a mini shetland pony and sheep; and better yet, entrance is complimentary for cellar door customers. If you’re seeking something a little special (with a price tag that’s a touch higher), arrange a tasting at HOOSEGG, the latest passion project from one of Australia’s most celebrated winemakers, Philip Shaw.
When hunger strikes, head for Hillside Harvest, part farm store, part cafe, part pick-your-own. Come summer and autumn you can pluck apples, plums, cherries, and stone fruit straight from the trees.
And if you’re looking to stretch your legs, pop Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve into Google Maps. A place considered sacred by the Wiradjuri people, these limestone caves once served as the birthing grounds for Wiradjuri women. Take the short Arch Loop Track, or explore the Verandah Cave.
If you’re travelling with kids you’ll want to set aside a day for the Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo, which is just shy of a two-hour drive from Orange. The Central Tablelands outpost of Sydney’s famed zoo is home to all kinds of exotic species, such as African lions, Asian elephants, cheetahs, Sumatran tigers, zebras and meerkats.
Whizz around on the site in an electric golf cart or a bike, or climb aboard the zoo’s Savannah Safari truck for a close-up of the giraffes and African antelopes. There’s a host of Keeper Talks and Animal Feeds to attend too.
It might surprise you to know that this historic township has earned itself the unusual moniker of ‘Ballooning Capital of Australia’. It all started in 1988, when Canowindra played host to the Australian National Championships of ballooning. And today you can still take to the skies above this country town with a number of local operators.
Part of the Cowra wine region, there’s a wealth of cellar doors for oenophiles to explore in the surrounding countryside, such as organic family-owned Wallington. But leave plenty of time for a stroll in town too: the main street, Gaskill, is lined with heritage-listed buildings, some of which date back to the 1800s. You’ll find quaint cafes, antique shops, storied hotels, and the volunteer-run Canowindra Historical Museum.
Keen golfers can also try out the town’s nine-hole golf course.
Come to this heritage-listed village with an empty belly and a full wallet. Home to a glut of great cafes, grocers, cellar doors and country pubs, Millthorpe is an epicurean’s delight.
Don’t miss Millthorpe Providore, for a brimful of local produce. Pick up some provisions for the road, or a couple of treats to enjoy back at home, such as freshly roasted coffee beans, specialty teas and handmade chocolates. Or settle in for a cappuccino and a cake or pastry, or a wholesome breakfast.
The Beekeepers Inn is a true snooper’s paradise. While the family-owned emporium’s honey and farm shop is one of the main attractions – offering honey tastings, a live bee display and a vast selection of seasonal honeys to choose from – there’s also a cafe, a brewery, a plant nursery and antiques to peruse.
History buffs should pencil in a stop at the Golden Memories Museum Millthorpe. Spread across eight large historic buildings, the museum plays host to local stories and memorabilia, as well as displays that outline Australian inventions and even working farm machinery.
For dinner, or a weekend lunch, make for standout local restaurant Tonic. This award-winning eatery showcases local produce and heroes seasonal veggies and is run by a chef who’s worked under the tutelage of Matt Moran and Gordon Ramsay during his career. The five-course chef’s choice menu rings in at just $80, with wine matching available too.
If you’re in the market for a longer drive then consider a day trip to Orange’s competing food and wine capital, Mudgee. It’s just over a two-hour drive away, and promises endless food and wine touring options, plus a rich local history.