With excellent restaurants and some of the finest wineries in the country, Orange is an ideal weekend destination.
Jul 12, 2023 5:51am
Drive a few hours west of Sydney and you’ll find Orange, a regional town renowned for its cool-climate wines, fresh produce, heritage charm and friendly locals.
Amidst the rolling hills are over 80 vineyards and nearly 40 cellar doors, fruit orchards and fine food destinations. Whether you’d prefer to cellar-door hop around the best wineries in Orange, pick your own fruit at local orchards, cosy up in luxury Orange accommodation or go on a culinary tour of the best Orange restaurants, Orange and its surrounding towns have plenty to offer.
Here are some of our top things to do on a weekend trip to the Orange region.
Hey Rosey is a cosmopolitan-yet-casual 20-seat wine bar in town. Owners Verity Abrams and Leigh Oliver are at the helm, while ex-Dear Sainte Éloise head chef Hugh Piper is manning the kitchen. The pint-sized venue champions producers from surrounding Central Tablelands vineyards, alongside international drops from fun and funky makers. In lieu of a large kitchen in the tight space, Piper has a focus on cheeses and produce from the Orange region, alongside salumi, tinned seafood and comforting bowls of pasta. It’s a plate-and-pour situation at the kitchen-counter bar, where locals and visitors alike can chat with the owners or chef to get to know the area better.
The Schoolhouse Restaurant
With former Rockpool chef Dom Aboud leading the kitchen, you can rely on The Schoolhouse Restaurant for its mod-bistro fare designed to share. The restaurant is positioned inside the heritage-listed Union Bank Hotel, making it a cosy place to linger for a long lunch. On the menu, you might find potato scallop snacks; beef tartare with miso, eggplant and rice hash brown; pork with rum glaze and burnt lime; and sides such as roast red onion and leeks topped with pecorino and hazelnuts, and beetroot with labneh and dukkah. For dessert, it’s hard to go past the Franco’s Tiramisù.
The five-course degustation at Printhie is led by the wines, but chef Jack Brown masterfully plays with native ingredients and local produce to create a dining experience worth travelling for. A long, leisurely lunch here is best placed after a tasting in the adjoining cellar door or an intimate sparkling wine masterclass which includes a guided walking tour of the vineyard and a private tasting of the award-winning Swift sparkling range.
Sister’s Rock Restaurant
This former commercial orchard has evolved into a vineyard, truffière and heritage apple and plum orchard, and its restaurant has sprawling views over the Central West slopes and plains. The on-site restaurant, Sister’s Rock Restaurant, is located at the top of Borrodell Vineyard, and offers decadent dishes inspired by the region of Orange, with fresh produce and locally farmed meat and vegetables taking centre stage. Dishes may look like roast cauliflower with fresh cheese and Borrodell truffle, and poached rhubarb with liquorice and blood orange.
Part grocer, part café, this unique venue also shares a space with Badlands Brewery. In-season fruits line the shelves, while the meals are fresh and ethically sourced. Come for the food, stay for the community atmosphere.
Serious food and relaxed dining is what you can expect from this lauded Orange eatery. A favourite among locals and visitors alike, be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment and prepare to be impressed by the set menu brought to life with local ingredients and an award-winning wine list. The custom-made woodfire and charcoal oven forms the beating heart of the kitchen here. On the menu, you might find fire-roasted beetroot and spanner crab with smoked bonito butter for entrées, and charred lamb rump with sheep’s milk yoghurt for mains; however the menu is seasonal and therefore ever-changing.
Set on one of the most immaculately presented properties in Orange, Philip Shaw Wines is a local favourite prized for its rich history. The cellar door, a converted 130-year-old bluestone barn, offers some of the most drinkable cool-climate wines in the region accompanied by food matched by the winemaker himself.
Run by husband-and-wife duo Nadja Wallington of Phillip Shaw Wines and Steve Mobb from Dreaded Friend, ChaLou is a small-scale winery located near Lucknow, just before Orange if you’re driving via Bathurst. They’re part of the newer generations of Orange winemakers who have built their own wine brand to explore and celebrate the great grapes grown in the area. ChaLou’s first harvest was only in 2021, but the winery has quickly gained a notable reputation with locals. The cellar door overlooks the vineyard and offers tasting led by the winemakers.
There’s a few reasons why De Salis Wines continues to be one of the region’s top wineries to visit. Along with its stellar sparklings and complex chardonnays, it also boasts some of the most stunning views found in the region.
Tamburlaine Organic Wines Millthorpe Cellar Door
Located in the historic town of Millthorpe, Tamburlaine Organic Wines Millthorpe Cellar Door offers a taste of Tamburlaine’s award-winning organic, vegan-friendly, low-sulphur and no-added-sulphur wines. First established in 1966 in the Hunter region, the winery set up a Cellar Door in an old general store on Pym Street. If you’re exploring Millthorpe, it’s a good spot to drop in for a quick wine tasting.
Potbelly indoor fireplaces, large standing stone baths and views overlooking Canobolas make Basalt a cosy haven when exploring the orange region. The new luxury accommodation boasts three beautifully appointed lodges situated on a family-run cherry orchard.
Each architectural structure provides ample privacy while simultaneously taking advantage of its stunning surroundings thanks the large floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors and cleverly positioned windows. Inside, you’ll find an open-plan studio featuring a plush king bed covered in luxe linens, a sleek kitchenette, and a deep oval bath with an impressive outlook over the orchard.
While it feels world’s away, Basalt is just a short drive from town and the boutique wineries and fine dining establishments for which the wine region is famed. After a day of cellar door-hopping, there’s no better place to sip your spoils than by your own roaring outdoor fire at dusk.
This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Orange, just a stone’s throw from the main thoroughfare. It prides itself on luxury, comfort and design, and features accommodation to suit even the most discerning traveller. Make no mistake though – it might be in the middle of the action, but it’s a quiet, relaxing place to rest after a long day of vineyard-hopping.
If you’re really looking to get off the grid, it’s worth checking out Dragonfly Cottages, just a 10-minute drive from Orange. The low-key abodes are minimal yet comfortable, and the hillside location makes for stunning sunrises and sunsets.