Slow down and savour the good life in Orange, which sits at the foot of an extinct volcano, four hour’s drive west of Sydney. Visit the cool-climate wineries and acclaimed restaurants. Sample the region’s delectable food and wine at the Orange F.O.O.D Week in April or later in the year at the Orange Winefest in October. Wander through the Orange Botanical Gardens, walk the City Heritage Trail or enjoy the view over the city from Mt Canobolas, an ancient volcanic peak. Just beyond Orange lies one of Australia’s first gold-mines, the limestone caves of Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve and charming historic villages.
Make way for sensory indulgence in Orange, where the fertile volcanic soils produce everything from stone fruits to olives, fungi and grapes. See the region’s bounty on display at the farmers markets, held every second Saturday at the Orange Showground. Pick your own apples, cherries and berries from the orchards, taste farm-fresh beef and lamb in the award-winning restaurants or sample wine made from local grapes while sampling local cheeses. Pinot gris, viognier, tempranillo and Italian red wine are some of the cool-climate varieties for which Orange is fast attracting a reputation. Visit some of the 40-something wineries on a drive through the countryside, which is dotted with gardens and picturesque picnic places.
For a real gourmet pilgrimage, visit during one of the region’s big food and wine events. Celebrate local food traditions and learn about the impact of your food choices at the Slow Food events held in February in Robertson Park. Take a hands-on cooking class, fine dine with live jazz or join a huge regional picnic at the Orange F.O.O.D Week in April. There’s more gourmand excitement at the Orange Winefest in October, where you can make your own wine and bid for wine bottles painted by local artists at auction. The week-long program also includes wine tastings and art shows, lavish lunches and dinners, live music and produce markets.
Orange has a rich history and culture to soak up. Walk the City Heritage Trail, which connects 40 historic sites on Orange’s elegant, tree-lined streets. See the neoclassical courthouse, wander through churches with stained glass windows and pressed metal ceilings and visit the18th-century Duntryleague mansion. Pay your respects to bush balladeer Banjo Paterson, who wrote our well known ‘Waltzing Matilda’, at the monument near his birthplace. Browse classic Australian paintings at the Orange Regional Gallery or catch a classical concert at the Orange Regional Conservatorium of Music.
Outdoors, meander past exotic and native plants in the Orange Botanical Gardens. Or follow one of seven walking trails to the summit of the ancient volcanic peak of Mt Canobolas, reputedly the highest point between the Blue Mountains and Western Australia’s Perth. Take in panoramic views over Orange and walk to Federal Falls, where rosellas, cockatoos, parrots and lorikeets keep up a cheerful chorus. At the foot of the mountain, you can swim, sail or fish in the artificial lake of Lake Canobolas.
Orange is a great base for exploring the delights of the greater region. Pan for gold at Ophir Reserve, the site of Australia’s first gold rush, or picnic at the historic Gosling Creek Reserve. Travel a little further to the Carcoar Dam for sailing, windsurfing, swimming and fishing. Tour the ethereal limestone world of Tunnel Cave by torchlight at Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve. Stroll beneath deciduous trees in Blayney, home to a wind farm and many historic buildings. Taste truffles unearthed from the local oak trees in the picturesque National Trust Village of Millthorpe or explore Molong, in the hills of the Macquarie Ranges.
Take your time when driving back to Sydney. A trip to Orange will make you realise life is too good to rush.