Winter in Orange brings sparkles of light. The diamond-white glitter of frost on tree branches, the dance of sunlight on wine glasses at scenic cellar doors, the embers of a festival bonfire that merge with the glitter of stars.
There are sparkles of conversation, too, as visitors congregate around crackling restaurant fires and the warmth and spirit of Orange in the winter takes over the evening.
The Orange region is a great seasonal destination.
It brings a true winter experience of tingling cheeks, crisp mornings and occasional snow.
The invigorating weather is perfect for walking, and just as good for cosy meals and evenings spent in warm bars nursing a delicate shiraz.
Make the most of winter with our recommendations for:
Orange has dozens of historic buildings, lovely parks, boutique shopping and a vibrant dining scene. Its surrounding countryside is dense with cellar doors, while surrounding towns such as Millthorpe, Carcoar, Molong and Canowindra provide charm, gold-rush history, eclectic little museums and heritage architecture.
Rug up, enjoy the crisp blue skies and lovely landscapes, indulge in some stomach-warming food and wine, and get out and explore. At day’s end a good wine, hot bath and crackling fire await. Perfect.
Where to eat and drink in Orange in winter
Orange has an impressive food and dining scene. No surprise that rolling paddocks, orchards, fertile volcanic soils and neatly pegged vineyards all provide an impressive variety of regional food and cool-climate wines to whet the winter appetite.
Food and drink experiences in winter
Without even leaving town you can sample wines from 19 cellar doors at Ferment: The Orange Wine Centre, and on Saturday mornings plunder Orange Farmers Market for Central West produce to bring home – while warming yourself with a hot chocolate or bacon-and-egg brioche, of course.
Barrel & Larder School of Wine & Food at Ross Hill Wines has food and wine workshops, and lunch afterwards. You’ll also find two distilleries, two breweries and a cidery around Orange.
The Orange Winter Fire Festival in August sees bonfires blaze during gourmet events that showcase the lip-smacking pleasures of campfire cookouts, or the cosy delights of dining in front of crackling fires in pubs and restaurants. As an added bonus, some outdoor events feature astronomers and stargazing enthusiasts.
Orange restaurants to visit in winter
Hatted restaurant Lolli Redini mixes the best of French and Italian influences to create bold, masterful dishes that showcase fabulous seasonal fare. The same team runs the new Birdie Noshery & Drinking Est. just down the road, which has lighter fare and a greater range of wine and cocktails.
You’ll soon warm up at Charred Kitchen & Bar, where the wood- and charcoal-fuelled oven emits heat and the tantalising aromas of grilled meats and seafood. The wine menu has magnificent variety.
Head for the Union Bank – built as the town’s financial establishment in 1857 – and you’ll find both the Arthouse Bar and Courtyard and Schoolhouse Restaurant for satisfyingly bold flavours.
You can combine shopping and dining at The Agrestic Grocer, which combines regional produce with a cellar and brewery door, and a lunchtime bistro-style restaurant.
Outside town, dozens of cellar doors welcome you to tastings, some accompanied by cheese platters, others enticing with cafes and restaurants. Sister’s Rock Restaurant at Borrodell Vineyard has great views and scrumptious food including, in winter, its own estate-grown truffles and special truffle-themed events.
Head to Millthorpe and reward yourself at Tonic Restaurant, where chef Tony Worland – who once worked with celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Matt Moran – gets rave reviews for his mod-Oz cuisine.
Outdoors in Orange in winter
Undulating landscapes around Orange provide quintessential Australian countryside right down to giant gum trees and hopping kangaroos. If you’re about early, frost provides a spectacularly crisp addition to vineyards and pastures.
The 1395-metre Mount Canobolas has subalpine scenery and vegetation, and often a blanket of snow. Arrive early and you might spot wombats. Summit Walking Track combines scenery and snow gums and connects to longer walks if you’re feeling frisky.
Lake Canobolas is a lovely walking spot for reflections and birdwatching, and nearby Towac Pinnacle a spectacular outlook. You can also enjoy views from cellar doors on Mount Canobolas’ flanks, such as at Printhie, De Salis, Ross Hill and Rowlee Wines.
Nearby Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve is also scenic; its limestone caves feature stalactites and stalagmites. Verandah Cave is reached on an easy 3.5-kilometre walk and has tranquil pools where you might see platypus.
Gosling Creek Reserve, just south of Orange, has popular walking and cycling tracks. To the north, discover The Falls Water Falls, which cascades down into Summer Hills Creek along the Central Mines trail.
If your idea of the outdoors is something more leisurely, then take to one of several golf courses, or simply stroll through one of the many lovely parks in town, such as Orange Botanic Gardens and Cook Park.
Where to stay in Orange in winter
Whatever your particular style or budget, you’ll find accommodation to match in Orange, from a heritage B&B within walking distance of restaurants, to a luxe hotel with on-site dining such as the very contemporary The Remington Orange or cool 1960s’ retro-style hotel, The Oriana. If you want self-catered convenience then Quest Orange offers serviced apartments.
A luxurious option right in Orange’s heritage centre is The Byng Street Boutique Hotel, which combines considerable design flair with country comfort. Beyond town is Rowlee, an upmarket guesthouse surrounded by gardens and vineyards, or Nashdale Lane Wine Luxury Glamping Cabins, enfolded in vines and orchards.
There are many options in the villages around Orange, too, such as the rustic-but-chic Hargan’s Cottage in Carcoar – a great retreat for a romantic weekend – or The Old Convent in Molong, with its atmosphere of days gone by. In Canowindra, the Blue Jacket Motel reinvents the motel stay with considerable style.
There’s more heritage at The Commercial Quarters in Millthorpe, part of a Victorian-era pub. Cadogan Country House sits on a sprawling cattle property and has underfloor heating and an outdoor fire pit perfect for winter evenings.