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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.