Is your dream European summer holiday slightly out of reach? Don’t unpack your suitcase just…
After a leisurely drive through the rolling green hills of the central west, you’ll find your blood pressure dropping as your cares seem to slip away.
Stop and listen for a moment. What’s that sound? The early morning toot of a train echoing across the town. Makes you realise you are in the country now and life moves a little bit slower and more melodically in Orange.
After a recent trip to this historic food and wine destination, here are our top 20 must-do experiences.
See the full program here.
Meeting Matt at Ferment—a gorgeous European-style wine bar on Hill Street. The long high bar down the centre of the room gives you a good vantage point of all the best alcohol the region has on offer. Or just let Matt recommend something.
Admiring the flower wreath above the bed at The Sonic (feature image). Scrap that, everything about The Sonic, which is one of the most gloriously beautiful shops you will find in Australia. Ever.
Located in a former Masonic Hall, The Sonic encompasses Nimrods café and lifestyle store Jumbled. Created by Pip Brett, Jumbled features the most inspiring collection of homewares, art, fashion and furniture from around Australia and you can make your purchasing decisions over a stellar coffee.
Swinging Bridge’s cellar door will take your breath away—and that’s before you taste the wine.
As you pull into the carpark, sweeping views across verdant valleys show the very vines on which Swinging Bridge’s renown grapes are lovingly grown—a legacy of generations.
Step inside to savour those same views over a glass of something delicious with a cheeseboard—you can even pull up a picnic rug in the vines if it’s a lovely day.
With wines named after family members, it’ll be hard to choose where to start your tasting—but easy to enjoy.
The White Place Home is one of the most perfectly styled houses you could hope to spend a weekend in in Orange.
Located centrally on 26 Byng Street, it is a spacious heritage home styled to absolute perfection by the owners of The White Place shop.
Leave your cares at the door as you step through to rooms which are ready for a magazine interiors shoot.
There are four bedrooms, three living rooms, and a pool for maximum enjoyment for a group of friends or if you want to whisk the family away for a mini-break.
A glass of the Cook’s Lot Chardonnay will also go down a treat. And let’s face it, chardonnay is hard to pass up as a barometer of a region’s wine prowess.
In the case of Orange, we tried many a fine chardy, but this one is heavy on the butter and lemon curd notes. What more could you ask for?
Fang around in Tesla. Eco Luxe Tours is the brainchild of Kate Hook who owns a Tesla Model X and offers a driver service for everything from wine tours to trips to Sydney.
The Tesla is phenomenal—from its vertically-opening doors to its acceleration from 0-100 in 4.2 second—and it is a delightful way to enjoy hassle-free transport that is also kind on the environment.
What Kate doesn’t know about the region, its wine, people and attractions, is possibly not worth knowing. Also, she stocks the best road snacks (fresh berries, chocolates and macadamias among them).
Unleash your inner artist with a watercolour workshop. The Corner Store Gallery (which, unsurprisingly is located in a former corner store) is run by artist Madeline Young-Holborow.
Here you can book in for art courses with a variety of local artists depending on your style and what you want to learn. We tried watercolours, which was a gentle introduction as well as being a meditative way to spend a morning!
A glass of the Bloodwood Riesling from Ferment. If you’re a Riesling lover, this will likely impress. Kaffir lime and floral notes with a long palate, this is a local wine you’ll want to take home with you—one of many, mind you, so make sure there’s room in the boot!
Find them in East Orange if you like your latte while you visit or you can order online for your at-home beans for that caffeine kick direct from Orange.
Fancy a five-star meal in a laid-back setting with wines to match every mouthful?
Charred sources beautiful local produce and treats it with respect. Chef Liam O’Brien, formerly of Point Yamu by COMO and Bentley, uses a specially commissioned “Lucifer” wood and charcoal oven to impart an incredible flavour on the food—particularly the picked spanner crab with smoked bonito butter.
Meanwhile, affably working the floor is sommelier Dave Collins, ready to pour you a glass of something which will wash down your meal with aplomb.
Hawkes General Store is another beautiful stockist who believes that browsing with a coffee in-hand is the best sort of browsing of all.
Grab your coffee at the counter and spin around to peruse a gorgeous selection, or better yet, burrow your nose into the delightful range of candles and scents. These are brands you don’t see (or smell) every day and are worth stocking up on, such as Gallivant and Maison Rebatchi.
It’s funny how living in such a beautifully curated home will inspire you to take a little more care in decorating back in your real home.
Breakfast at Byng Street Local Store is a must-do for lovers of rustic, hearty food with a focus squarely on local produce. After a big night sampling the culinary delights of Orange, the Byng Street barista will be your favourite person, along with their relaxed menu of dishes like Monty’s Eggs and Byng Street toasted muesli. We’ll have the lot.
Housed in a semi-industrial straw-bale/brick building and wearing its locavore ideology proudly on its sleeve, the Agrestic Grocer provides a unique shopping and dining experience.
Alternatively, if you’re a planner, just jump online and order a platter to arrive wherever you are. We checked into our beautiful accommodation and pulled the ploughman’s board out of the fridge.
It had everything from cheeses and crackers to pate, tiny Kalavista olives, and beautiful Fresh Fodder dips. There was enough to make a meal of it, but given we were in Orange we had other plans. Righto, it’s time to head out to dinner!
Nashdale Lane Wines is a family-run vineyard with a beautiful scenic view, fairy-light-strewn tasting barn, and the opportunity to make a night of it and glamp in one of the most gloriously kitted-out tents you will ever stumble across.
The winery itself has a range of lovely drops, categorised into three collections—The Social, The Colour Series and Legacy—depending on tastes and budget.
Vigneron Nick Segger can take you through all of them before you retire to your beautiful glamping site (it has a proper bed, bathroom, kitchen and open fire so please don’t for a minute think you will be roughing it).
Admittedly, if you’re coming from Canberra, you are probably used to a great local gin from any one of our impressive distillers. But have you had a Parrot Distilling Co dry gin and tonic? Because it has hints of apple and vanilla which makes for a superior experience.
The Schoolhouse Restaurant is such a fine dining experience it is almost worth the trip alone. Housed in the State Heritage listed Union Bank building, the restaurant is run by a gorgeous couple—Sarah Crowley as front of house and Dom Aboud as Head Chef, both ex-Rockpool.
The food is local, and sublime, served under the vaulted former schoolhouse ceiling and in front of a roaring log fire in winter. Paired with local wines, this is a gastronomic experience that rivals anything in the big smoke.
Inside a slightly unassuming shed along a leafy lane in nearby Nashdale is Printhie Wines’ pop up. Known for their champagne-style sparkling that comes in a variety of impressive dry styles—some which have taken the gong for best sparkling in NSW.
Take a seat under the chandelier and fairy lights as the Printhie’s knowledgeable family-run team—big shout outs to Ed and Dave Swift—walk you through the heritage of these deliciously bubbly drops.
Melissa Barber is an independent artist based on Canowindra. She lives in a rambling cottage that screams inspiration at every turn with cats named Oscar and Gustav and a peacock called Jacques.
If you book, you can spend a morning or afternoon with her, touring the studio, getting up close to her work, which is deeply influenced by Japanese and Chinese art and features the strong use of gold and silver.
Not only does she paint, but she bakes stupendous high tea fare. It is a unique experience to meet someone with incredible life stories to tell. Well worth it.
Canowindra is a tiny historic town brimming with wonderful characters and a main street where all the action happens.
On a weekend you will find the townsfolk assembling at long tables in the iconic Finn’s Store and catching up on the week’s events (or on a Sunday afternoon, discussing the quality of that morning’s Church service), while partaking of a home-style meal cooked by the affable Jaqui.
If you go, leave space to taste some of the finest drops from local winemaker Antonio’s Wine (his Pinot Gris and Rose are both delightful). Listen in to the conversations around you as the locals spend long leisurely hours over a meal, or peruse the gorgeous shop which sells everything from furniture to jewellery. Whatever you do, make sure to reserve time for this adventure.
Finn’s Store | 35 Gaskill Street, Canowindra | @finnsstore
Orange Mountain Wines is vineyard with a story. Terry and Julie Dolle’s hand-crafted wines are created through traditional methods of hand-picking, hand-plunging, and fermentation in small open containers to maximise colour and flavour followed by basket pressing and maturation in imported barrels.
Taste the wines in the giant shed overlooking the vines outside (no pretentious cellar door fit-out here) and don’t forget to sample their award-winning Mountain Ice Viognier. The wine is frozen to extract the most luscious dessert wine flavours. Try it and see.
The HerCanberra team travelled to Orange courtesy of Orange360 however their opinions remain their own.