A weekend guide to Orange, NSW

Looking for a peaceful and relaxing town to visit filled with good food and wine in NSW? Than Orange is the perfect spot. It is fast becoming one of Australia’s best wine regions, with 80 vineyards, 30+ cellar doors and 50 cafes and restaurants to choose from. Whether you visit in the peak of winter and spend your time by a fire or in Autumn to see the colourful tree foliage, there is plenty to do year-round in Orange. Here is how I spent my time in Orange on a rainy, winter 3-day adventure.

Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 meant that all of our great plans for 2020 were turned upside down and we spent a lot of time in lockdown, in isolation or unable to even leave the state. While this was upsetting, once lockdown restrictions eased, it meant that I was able to explore more of my own backyard than I normally would; as I usually opt to travel abroad rather than to travel around rural NSW or Australia. There is always a positive, even in crappy situations and this was a circumstance I felt grateful for, despite everything else that happened in 2020!

Drink

As mentioned above, there are so many wineries in Orange to choose from. We visited Ross Hill Winery, which has been around since 1994 and is family-run. The wines are not available at any big supermarket bottle shop, and you can taste the hard work, passion and dedication that goes into each wine. We received detailed explanations about each wine and learnt a lot during our tasting. We also visited Philip Shaw Winery, another family-run vineyard with a beautiful building to taste the wines in. We had our wine tastings on a Monday, which meant they were less crowded adding to the peaceful experience.

Next time I visit Orange I want to go to Heifer Station Wines – they have a petting zoo onsite with lots of animals including pigs, goats and an alpaca.

Eat

Whilst in Orange I recommend checking out the Groundstone Cafe for breakfast, Sweet Sour Salt and Zona which were recommended by a friend who grew up in Orange, Lolli Redini if you want to splurge on a nice dinner, the Agrestic Grocer for gourmet treats such as cheese, jams and wine and for a good Aussie pub meal try Union Bank, Parkview Hotel or The Greenhouse.

Shop

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of cute boutique stores in Orange. My absolute favourite store was The Sonic, which had two stores within it; Jumbled and Nimrods. The store boasted beautiful clothes, rugs, artwork, books and house hold knick-knacks. The Hawkes general store was a shop and cafe in one, and The White Place was another lovely store; both filled with perfect gifts to buy for someone else.

Do

The seasons are more extreme in Orange compared to Sydney, meaning it gets colder in winter and hotter in summer. We visited Orange in the winter; having to drive through snow to get to our accommodation! We arrived to a very rainy and very cold Orange and took advantage of the fire place.

It had been a busy year with work, and working from home since March meant it was hard to truly shut off. We wanted to spend the few days relaxing, forgetting about work and enjoying our accommodation. So our time was spent cuddling by the fire, wine tasting at a couple of vineyards and exploring the township of Orange.

A couple of other things that were on our to-do list that we didn’t get to this time around where checking out the views at Pinnacle Lookout, Verandah Cave and Mount Canobolas, and perusing the few stores in Milthorpe which is a small township just outside Orange. We also plan to visit Orange again one day in the spring time and have a picnic at the Botanic Garden.

Accommodation

My boyfriend totally spoiled me for my birthday and booked the beautiful Dragonfly Cottages for two nights. I love the aesthetic of the minimal tiny homes amongst nature and this was by far one of the nicest places I have ever stayed. The place was surrounded by the most stunning views of Australian gum trees and sprawling green fields, and watching the blue sky turn to pink and orange at sunset from the lounge with the fire going was a moment I’ll never forget.

The bed felt like I was sleeping in a giant cloud, and the surrounding space was so peacefully quit I had the best sleep I’d had all year. The place was beautifully built and decorated, with huge windows to see the view from every direction. One of our favourite parts was visiting the alpacas and sheep at the owners’ property next door! It was such a special, relaxing and peaceful stay; and it was truly everything we had wanted and I definitely recommend staying here if you’re after a special experience.

Tips

We opted to visit Orange on Sunday and leave on Tuesday, as we had wanted a couple days off work and hoped that visiting outside the weekend it would be less crowded. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise until after we’d booked and taken time off work that majority of the cafes and restaurants are shut on Monday and Tuesdays in Orange! This didn’t matter that much to us, as we’d wanted to spend a lot of time in our accommodation to make the most of it anyway, but if you’re wanting to explore the culinary cuisine in Orange I would opt to visit Wednesday-Sunday.

Everything in Milthorpe was shut on a Tuesday, including the shops! It was like a ghost town when we visited. The same suggestion to visit on a Wednesday-Sunday applies here too.

Book in your winery visits ahead of time! We saw quite a few people being turned away because they didn’t have a booking; and we visited the wineries on a Monday which didn’t even seem that busy. We booked ours a month or so in advance and the timing between the two wineries worked out perfectly.

7 best things to do in Hobart

Hobart may be a small city geographically and population-wise, but it has a lot to offer! With a vibrant art scene, delicious restaurants and produce, surrounded by beautiful natural attractions it is no wonder Hobart is becoming a very popular destination to visit.

Don’t miss:

  • MONA
  • Salamanca Markets
  • Battery Point

Things to do and top attractions in Hobart-

  • 1. Shop for trinkets at Salamanca Markets

Salamanca Market is located on Hobart’s waterfront and is one of Australia’s largest outdoor markets. It is open 8:30-3pm every Saturday with more than 300 stalls filled with arts, crafts, jewellery, fresh food and produce and homewares.

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  • 2. Be awed by art at MONA

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is an art museum located within the Moorilla winery in Hobart. It is the largest privately funded museum in the Southern Hemisphere. MONA is a phenomenal art museum, with artworks ranging from ancient, modern and contemporary from the David Walsh collection. It is immersive, fun and weird. This should not be missed on a trip to Hobart!

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  • 3. Walk Hobart’s waterfront

Take some time to walk along the waterfront. Start from the beautiful sandstone buildings at Salamanca Place and stroll around to the docks at Brooke Street Pier. Whilst here it would be a crime not to get stuck into an iconic box of fish and chips.

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  • 4. Go on a free walking tour around Salamanca and Battery Point

One of my favourite things to do in any city I visit is to go on a free walking tour. I went with this company, who were really great! It was a 2 hour tour of Hobart, Salamanca and Battery Point where I learnt about Hobart’s fascinating history (which is quite different to mainland Australia) and other great tips and facts about the beautiful city.

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  • 5. Taste craft beer

Craft beer is very important in Hobart! For a great craft beer check out Shambles Brewery or Hobart Brewing Company. If you’re looking for a place with a cool vibe on a Friday or Saturday night, check out Preachers in Battery Point. It is a hip bar with a bus parked in the courtyard! You can get craft beers, cocktails and burgers.

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  • 6. Salivate over Hobart’s delicious food scene

A large portion of your time in Hobart should be spent scouting out delicious restaurants and eating until you can’t any more. All of the produce is amazing quality, and fish is a must. There are so many delicious cafes, bakeries, restaurants and food stalls in Hobart- I barely even touched the surface!

For brunch I recommend checking out Born in Brunswick. Get the potato and pecorino hash, celeriac and black sesame remoulade with smoked crème fraîche and a fried egg, you will not be disappointed! Cargo Bar for pizza in Salamanca was really good and had a great vibe. Jack Greene, just next door to Cargo Bar, has half price burgers every Sunday!

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  • 7. Go on a day trip to Bruny Island

Bruny Island is a small island located off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania. You can get here by taking the barge with your car; you will definitely need a car to drive around the island. We visited the Neck Lookout, Cape Bruny, South Bruny National Park, and Bruny Island Cheese Company. One day on the island is more than enough time, I wouldn’t recommend staying over night unless you are after a very remote getaway.

Make sure you keep an eye out for the white wallabies which are located on Bruny Island. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot one, so let me know if you do when you go!

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Accomodation

I stayed at Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse which is a multi-award winning boutique hostel suitable for backpackers, groups of friends, couples and families. It’s located in central Hobart in the historic village of Battery Point- which in my opinion, is the most beautiful part of the city! If you’re visiting Hobart, I definitely recommend staying here. The place was perfect, complete with two french bulldogs to play with!

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Everything you need to know about Tasmania’s Bay of Fires

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Bay of Fires is a truly beautiful part of the world. Located on Tasmania’s north-east coast, expect to be greeted with iridescent blue water, white sandy beaches and huge, granite rocks splashed with orange lichen. The juxtaposition between the blue and orange is a magnificent sight to see.

The area is well known for its bird watching and beach activities such as snorkelling and diving, with scenic reefs, corals, and varied sea life. Whilst driving along the roads keep a look out for native Australian animals such as kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons (a real marsupial, found only in Tasmania).

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Getting here:

To get to this picturesque destination, we drove to Eddystone Point Lighthouse from Launceston airport. It was a 2.5-hour drive, with a large part of it on a dirt road. Luckily, there were barely any other cars on the road, which is what you can largely expect during your whole trip around Tassie.

Allow for a few hours to wander up and down the coastline here, taking in the beautiful scenery. You never know what you’ll find; we spotted a wobbegong (carpet shark) in the shallow waters!

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Binalong Bay:

From Bay of Fires, we needed to make our way to Coles Bay. We stopped off at Binalong Bay, a small coastal town situated at the southern end of the Bay of Fires, just in time to watch the sunset over the ocean. There isn’t much here, but it made for a peaceful stopover on a multi-hour drive.

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10 Quintessential Melbourne Experiences

Melbourne is a hip, vibrant city filled with great culture and delicious food. The city centre is always bustling, and the inner-city neighbourhoods are complete with their own unique charm.

Melbourne has earned its reputation as Australia’s “coolest” city through its many laneways filled with quirky street art, roaring music scene and delicious dining options for all budgets. It’s also regularly been voted the world’s most liveable city, and for good reason!

So, what are the “must-do’s” when visiting this city?

1. Visit Flinders Street Station and Federation Square

The main entrance to Flinders Street Station is a cultural symbol of Melbourne. You will spot this on every tourist brochure or postcard in Melbourne. The building was first opened in 1910 and is listed on the Victorian heritage register.

Across the road from the station is Federation Square. This is another Melbourne icon, most notable during the Australian Open when thousands of people gather to watch the  tennis matches on the television. Once you’re at the Square, make sure to visit the Australian Centre of the Moving Image.

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2. Go bar hopping

Melbourne has an endless supply of bars to visit, eat and get drunk at. Make the most of your afternoon by bar hopping from bar to bar. My favourite suburb to bar hop in is Fitzroy- home to Naked for Satan, The Everleigh, Bar Liberty and Bad Frankie to name a few. (The amazing view of Melbourne’s cityscape was taken from Naked for Satan).

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3. Brunch until you can’t brunch anymore

There’s nothing quite like a brunch queue on a Sunday morning in Melbourne. Picture this, you’re hungover, you’re tired, all you want is some avo toast and a coffee. You’re waiting in line for over 20 minutes, wondering if it will ever be your turn or if you will perish in Melbourne before you even get to eat at one of the famous brunch spots, but then your name is called! Your food is brought, and everything is right in the world once more.

Some of the places I’d happily line up for whilst experiencing the above scenario include: Bentwood and Faraday’s Cage in Fitzroy, Fourth Chapter in Prahran, Top Paddock in Richmond and Higher Ground in the CBD.

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4. Check out the amazing street art

Melbourne is very well-known for its incredible street art. The city council actually designated certain areas that allow street artists to do their thing. Due to this, the art is always changing around the city. The most famous spot to see street art is on Hosier Lane. However, I stumbled across a lot of street art whilst wandering around Fitzroy.

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6. Visit a market

There are market stalls being held every weekend in Melbourne. If you’re a lover of unique trinkets, fresh produce and supporting local artists then a visit to a market would be the perfect way to spend a morning. A quick Google search will let you know what markets will be on that weekend. I visited Rose Street Market in Fitzroy, which is open every weekend. It’s an indoor and outdoor market filled with handmade goods, complete with a diner and rooftop bar.

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7. Admire art at a gallery

Melbourne has so many amazing art galleries to peruse. It is home to Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria, plus an array of smaller galleries such as Niagara Galleries, Aboriginal Gallery of Dreamings or Centre for Contemporary Photography. Make sure you visit at least one gallery whilst here! In my personal opinion, Aboriginal art is some of the most beautiful so make sure you go to a gallery that has some on display for a full Australian art experience.

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8. Get sporty at the MCG

One of the most important things to know about Melbourne is that it is a sports-obsessed city. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, or as the locals call it “The G”, is Melbourne’s largest sports stadium. The stadium is home to the Melbourne Cricket Club, but also hosts AFL games, and international soccer and rugby games.

To top off your Melbourne experience try to catch a game of cricket or AFL to truly experience Melbourne’s passion for sport.

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9. Stroll (or row) along the Yarra River

The Yarra River is the city’s main water feature, situated in the heart of the city. Take a stroll along the Yarra and look back at the beautiful city skyline. I’ve been told that a very “Melbourne thing to do” is to kayak along the Yarra River, so if you’re after a fun, unique activity whilst in Melbourne this could be it.

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10. Wander through laneways

One of my favourite things to do in any city is to aimlessly wander through the many laneways and streets, and get lost in the architecture around me. This strongly applies to when I am in Melbourne, as it is a wonderful to way to see what the city has to offer. You’ll find plenty to see, do, buy and eat, and gain a new appreciation of Melbourne.

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