10 reasons to visit ... Orange

Enjoying a vine-to-table experience in Orange.
Enjoying a vine-to-table experience in Orange. Photo: Jesse Smith/Destination NSW

Like many parts of Australia, Orange has had a tough year. Last year's droughts had already parched much of the central NSW region's agricultural land, then the nearby Blue Mountains bushfires not only cut off the roads into town, but cast smoke taint on many wineries' 2020 grape harvest. Then the pandemic arrived, forcing local travel to a halt. But now that the road is clearer, and the future a little brighter, we can and should explore our own backyards again. Here's why the Orange region should be your first stop.

Local wines available on the menu at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange. Images for Orange F.O.O.D Week story
Fresh figs at Orange Farmers Market, Orange.Women shopping for fashion and homewares at Tomolly in Carcoar.Fresh pears available for purchase at the Orange Farmers Market.Wine and bar snacks at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Local wines available on the menu at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Couple enjoying a glamping experience at Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.Couple enjoying a glass of red wine from Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.MUST CREDIT: Destination NSW

If Charred's 90-page wine list is too big of a tome, have a chat with sommelier David Collins. Photo: Destination NSW

1. Follow the smoke at Charred

A grazing tour of Orange is best kicked off in the cosy dining room of Charred for a few reasons. There's the clever cooking by chef Liam O'Brien​ as he works his bespoke charcoal oven (named Lucifer, of course) to transform fire-roasted beetroot or slow-charred lamb rump into artful plates that hero Orange produce. Dessert is just as poetic, from a picture-perfect white chocolate peach to a "carrot patch" on a bed of ginger caramel and carrot cake crumbs. If the award-winning, local-leaning 90-page wine list is too big of a tome, a chat with expert sommelier David Collins can guide you to a bottle that will not only surprise (it's not just a chardy party in these parts), but whose vineyard you can visit the very next day. charred.com.au

2. Check into a heritage home

Orange's colonial farming history is still visibly intact in the centre of town, and its newest hotel is actually one of its oldest buildings. The newly restored Byng Street Boutique Hotel uses the bones of an old 19th century homestead to house 22 refurbished luxury rooms, all brought up to date with modern furnishings, vibrant colour, and contemporary artwork from local artists, stylists and designers. The included breakfast is not to be slept through, with coffee from Orange cult roaster Bills Beans and a menu that shouts out the hotel's neighbours, including local quark from Second Mouse Cheese, artisan meats from Cured, seasonal fruit from Hillside Harvest and more. byngstreethotel.com.au

Orange F.O.O.D festival (search: Orange FOOD festival) - generic promo images for 30-year anniversary
Sunday producers' market
Wandering the orchard
Wandering the vineyard
Sampling local beer
Sampling fresh produce
Chef Tony Worland - Tonic Millthorpe
Freshly picked pears
Table setting images: Credit Destination NSW
Supplied by PR emily.mann@orange360.com.au

In the interest of not missing out on a single drop, join a wine tour of the region. Photo: Supplied

3. Go on a grape escape

Looming Mount Canobolas was once an active volcano, which made the leftover land on its foothills fertile grounds for apple orchards and, the more recent arrival, vineyards. You could drive yourself through the vines of this cool-climate wine region, but in the interest of not missing out on a single drop, Orange Wine Tours offers a fleet of vans and luxury cars to do it for you. Choose from half- to full-day tours for groups or private couples, and visit some of the region's finest makers: drink in the views (and a cherry-like pinot noir) at De Salis; match a row of Phillip Shaw bright whites with snacks; visit the new pop-up cellar door at Printhie, whose winemakers lost a year's grapes to smoke taint; and sit by the crackling fire in winter at the Heifer Station woolshed-cum-cellar door. If you do decide to DIY, call ahead, as wineries are taking seated bookings for tastings following government regulations. orangewinetours.com.au

4. Take a gin flight

Of all the gin bars in the world, you're going to want to walk into this local in Orange, the new drinking hole from local gin distillery Parrot Distilling Co. Complete with a neon-lit sign of the famous Casablanca quote, the tasting "aviary" launched in September, where visitors can taste three styles of the Orange-made gin before relaxing with a gin and tonic at the freshly built bar. The dry gin is modern, easy drinking, while unique bottles include an Earl Grey blended with tea from Orange teahouse Remy & Max, or the Oriental Gin infused with lemongrass and chilli. parrotdistillingco.com.au

Fresh pears available for purchase at the Orange Farmers Market. Images for Orange F.O.O.D Week story
Fresh figs at Orange Farmers Market, Orange.Women shopping for fashion and homewares at Tomolly in Carcoar.Fresh pears available for purchase at the Orange Farmers Market.Wine and bar snacks at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Local wines available on the menu at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Couple enjoying a glamping experience at Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.Couple enjoying a glass of red wine from Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.MUST CREDIT: Destination NSW

Support local producers and pick up a box of produce at the farmers' markets. Photo: Destination NSW

5. Pick your produce

Souvenirs are best in food form, and a box of produce from the Orange Farmers' Markets is a great way to support the locals as well as win points back home. The historic Beekeeper's Inn has a stall selling the honey they collect from around the region, fresh vegies are available from Pastured Produce, while The Salami Man sells his range of gluten- and dairy-free, Australia-grown pork charcuterie from the back of his truck. While tastings are usually on offer, they'll be on hold as we escape the pandemic, so you'll just have to trust us that the "Bum Burner" does what it says on the label. orangefarmersmarket.org.au

Advertisement
Couple enjoying a glamping experience at Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale. Images for Orange F.O.O.D Week story
Fresh figs at Orange Farmers Market, Orange.Women shopping for fashion and homewares at Tomolly in Carcoar.Fresh pears available for purchase at the Orange Farmers Market.Wine and bar snacks at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Local wines available on the menu at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Couple enjoying a glamping experience at Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.Couple enjoying a glass of red wine from Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.MUST CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sign up for a glamping experience at Nashdale Lane winery. Photo: Destination NSW

6. Glamp in the vineyards

The Orange wine region is the youngest in Australia, and at only four years old, Nashdale Lane winery is one of the newest on the block. Though it was an established winery when Nick and Tanya Segger took over the 24-hectare property in 2016, the couple have since transformed it into a destination in itself, with four new luxury glamping cabins (complete with private showers, cosy wood fires and a four-poster bed). Day trippers are also taken care of, with tastings of their small-batch award-winning wines on offer from their light-filled, former apple-packing shed cellar door, with views direct to Mount Canobolas. nashdalelane.com

Women shopping for fashion and homewares at Tomolly in Carcoar. Images for Orange F.O.O.D Week story
Fresh figs at Orange Farmers Market, Orange.Women shopping for fashion and homewares at Tomolly in Carcoar.Fresh pears available for purchase at the Orange Farmers Market.Wine and bar snacks at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Local wines available on the menu at Charred Kitchen & Bar, Orange.Couple enjoying a glamping experience at Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.Couple enjoying a glass of red wine from Nashdale Lane Wines, Nashdale.MUST CREDIT: Destination NSW

Tomolly in Carcoar sells a curated range of stylish kitchenware and ceramics. Photo: Destination NSW

7. Time bend in Carcoar

A 40-minute drive from Orange, Carcoar is a trip back in time. The tiny 200-person historic village is affectionately known as "the town that time forgot", seemingly untouched from development. That's not to say the town's only draw is its relics. Belinda Satterthwaite moved her cult homewares shop Tomolly from Millthorpe to Carcoar's sleepy main street after finding her dream home in an old flour mill, and her curated selection of stylish kitchenware, handmade ceramics, soaps and candles are a bucket-list destination for stylists and tourists alike. A new place to sleep at the refurbished Old Carcoar Post Office bed and breakfast means you don't have to rush off. tomolly.com.au; carcoarpo.com 

Antica Australis in Carcoar is run by husband & wife team: Paolo & Kelly Picarazzi
Pix supplied by venue

Antica Australis in Carcoar. Photo: Supplied

8. Homestyle Italian dining

"This is not a restaurant", reads the sign at Antica Australis, the new little eatery that opened its doors in Carcoar in February. Owned by husband-and-wife Kelly and Paolo Picarizzi, Paolo cooks homely, hearty food from his hometown of Ciociaria in northern Italy and it was his traditional crespelle (crepes) offered as a takeaway dish that saved the business during lockdown. It's BYO, so bring a bottle from your travels. anticacarcoar.com

9. Luxury private dining on a wagyu farm

Nestled in-between Bathurst and Orange, Cadogan Country House is high-end boutique accommodation located on Mark and Jane Holman's wagyu beef farm. A freshly renovated five-bedroom private house, the kitchen features brand new Smeg kitchen appliances, plus there's an outdoor firepit, a private hedge maze and plenty of walking tracks and picnic spots surrounding the property. Don't feel like cooking? Guests will also have the chance to enjoy a private fine-dining dinner cooked for them by chef Richard Learmonth, fresh from his role heading up the kitchen at Sister Rock restaurant on Orange's Borrodell Vineyard. cadogancountryhouse.com.au

Orange F.O.O.D festival (search: Orange FOOD festival) - generic promo images for 30-year anniversary
Sunday producers' market
Wandering the orchard
Wandering the vineyard
Sampling local beer
Sampling fresh produce
Chef Tony Worland - Tonic Millthorpe
Freshly picked pears
Table setting images: Credit Destination NSW
Supplied by PR emily.mann@orange360.com.au

Sampling local beers at Orange F.O.O.D Week. Photo: Supplied

10. Orange F.O.O.D Week

After being cancelled at the last minute in 2020, Orange's famous F.O.O.D festival is back on for 2021. From April 9-18, food-lovers will flock to the region to celebrate the gathering's 30-year anniversary and the best of the area's food and wine scene. The 10-day event includes six signature events and more than 90 satellite events hosted at local restaurants and cellar doors championing produce, producers, farmers, chefs and restaurants. Expect tasting workshops, long table lunches, an anniversary dinner, produce markets, foraging tours and lawn picnics. orangefoodweek.com.au