If you’re considering a long weekend in Orange, don’t think twice. Just a 3 and a half hour scenic drive from Sydney and you’ll be in the beautiful rolling hills of Orange, lined with vineyards, orchards and up and coming restaurants. Autumn is the time to go – a beautiful filter of oranges, reds and yellows take over and create stunning countryside scenery to feast your eyes on.
When driving to Orange from Sydney, be sure to take the B59 route – not only to escape the traffic but you’ll love the Blue Mountains scenery and stopping off at the Botanic Gardens if you have time. We stayed at Turners Vineyard just outside of Orange – a basic but pretty motel with stunning views and only a ten minute taxi ride into the town centre.
An absolute must in Orange is hiring bikes (we hired ours from Bissy’s Cafe at $50 each for the day), and hitting the many vineyards of Pinnacle Road. Orange wine tours offer a shuttle service which drops you off at the top of Pinnacle Road, but you can also pop the bikes in your boot and drive your own car up to Pinnacle Road Look Out car park and do it all yourself. It’s a downhill road from this car park with many vineyards to choose from. Must stops: Brangayne Vineyard (the road filled with yellow maple trees is a lovely welcome), Word of Mouth Wines (ask the owners to meet their resident mischievous sheep – Mr Snuggles), Ross Hill wines, and the very popular Philip Shaw wines (try the ‘Idiot Shiraz’ and the locally brewed pale ale ‘Badlands’).
Another vineyard which is an absolute must is Heifer Station. The owners have done a fantastic decor job with the old barn and it’s worth a visit just to admire this. Hay bales with rustic rugs fill their garden which is just perfect for a cheeky wine tasting on a sunny autumnal afternoon. Don’t forget to say hello to resident shetland pony, Tilly, and their farm llamas.
On our second day we stopped for lunch at Sisters Rock which looks out onto the beautiful Borrodell Vineyard. If you’re booking ahead make sure you request a table on their terrace – you’ll be treated to one of the best vineyard views in Orange. After lunch, make sure you spend some time perusing their vineyards (keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos hopping around), and the apple orchards.
Other must dos include driving up Mt Canobalas Road and making your way to the top of the road to enjoy the panoramic views of the Orange region. For an even better view and a quieter spot, don’t forget Pinnacle Lookout. In our opinion the views beat Mount Canobalas and it’s only 15 minutes to reach the top – perfect after a day of wine tasting.
On our final day we drove out of Orange on Icely Road which is a lovely route for a bit of a change of scene – turn down Stagecoach Road and stop off at Moody’s Wines. You’ll be greeted by a lovely man who will invite you into his home for a personal and intimate wine tasting. Enjoy his wines whilst he shares tales of living all around the world, from Denmark to Tanzania. His 2015 Sauvignon Blanc is a delight, and ask him to tell you the story behind the beautiful artwork on his bottle of Rose – a lovely personal touch which makes his vineyard that bit more special and unique.
Upon leaving Moody’s turn right back onto Stagecoach Road and head to Byng (a recommendation from the Moody’s Wine owner). Byng Road is just beautiful – you’ll feel like you’re heading into the middle of nowhere but soon you’ll stumble across the most quaint church you’ll probably ever have the privilege of seeing. Hop out here and take in the utter peace and quiet of the village, and then carry on down Byng Road until you hit the main road.
Follow the signs to Millthorpe – a must do on your way home to Sydney. Millthorpe is still relatively unknown so you won’t get the crowds of other similar villages like Berry. Go to Millthorpe Providores for lunch and try the risotto balls and their deliciously smooth coffee (Bill’s Beans). Stop off at some of the quaint and boutiquey antique, homeware and accessories stores. My favourite was Tomolly – decor and homeware heaven with unique styles.
A final recommendation for your drive home to Sydney – Beekeepers Inn on the main road out of Orange. Swap wine tasting for honey tasting, have a quick game of lawn skittles, and admire their vintage decor surrounding the cafe.
All in all we’d highly recommend Orange for a long weekend, time out from the bright lights of Sydney, and a chance to experience the inland rural part of NSW. Enjoy!