Food, Fire and Floating Fun: Every Reason You Should Be Planning a Country Break in Greater Orange

If the city is getting you down, it's time to escape to the country.
Orlaith Costello
Published on May 09, 2024

in partnership with

If you truly want a break from city life and fully immerse yourself in country living, there's no finer place than the Orange region.

Whether you'd love to be sipping wines by a fire pit at the Winter Fire Festival, taking a summer hike up Mount Canobolas, watching the leaves change in autumn or seeing the bud bursts in vineyards in spring, there's always a reason to make the trek to the Central Tablelands

Together with Orange360, we've collated some of the best reasons to visit the Orange region, from epic festivals and top-notch wine to some of the country's best food and cosiest country stays. 


Outdoor and Festive Events

The highlight of the winter season in the Orange region is the Winter Fire Festival. Attendees can enjoy a series of events curated by local producers to showcase the region's finest food and wine offerings. 

This year's festivities kick off with the Millthorpe Fire Fair, held on Friday, August 2. Sample local treats and wines throughout the day. As night falls, fire pits will line the streets as you enjoy live music and family-friendly activities before the event culminates in a dazzling fireworks display. It's a celebration of community against the backdrop of the picturesque countryside.

Fireworks are nothing next to this next annual activity. Massive hot air balloons take to the skies every autumn in the Canowindra International Balloon Challenge. This creative festival is held annually in Canowindra, a small but strong rural community in the picturesque and fertile Belubula Valley. It has a long history of hot air ballooning, dating back to the first modern hot air balloon flight in Australia in 1966.

Stick around for the monthly Twilight Markets at The Palms Canowindra. On the third Friday of every month, this market showcases producers from Canowindra's surrounds. Peruse the produce, hunt for gifts or snack on local food and wines. There's also live music and an open mic for brave travellers wishing to share a song or two.  


Wine Tasting and Vineyard Visits

Thanks to the Orange region's unique climate and high altitudes on the Great Dividing Range's north and west slopes, wine producers can cultivate a diverse range of grape varieties in the region. Cooler sub-regions are perfect for riesling and sauvignon blanc, the warmer spots are ideal for merlot, shiraz and cab sav, and chardonnay and pinot noir are happy in between. 

So, you simply can't come here and not make time for a wine tasting. Macquariedale Organic Wines should be on your itinerary if you're a mindful wine fan. It specialises in organic, biodynamic, low-preservative, vegan-friendly and natural wines — as nature intended. The winery hosts a range of wine tastings and experiences at its cellar door, including a Wander and Graze package that will take you up the gentle slopes of the property to take in views across to Mount Canobolas while enjoying a hamper stocked with local goodies (and wine, of course).

Head to the family-owned winery Angullong in Millthorpe for a more traditional wine tasting. Visit its historic bluestone cellar door to sample its range, which includes classic cool-climate varieties such as sauvignon blanc, shiraz and cabernet. There are also some dynamic alternative wines in the mix, such as viognier, tempranillo, barbera and sangiovese. 

Delve deeper into the countryside and take a jaunt out to the Logan Wines cellar door. This whimsical wine brand was started by wine industry stalwart Peter Logan. Everything on the wine list is an experiment and a testament to the team's determination to create a shift from the norm.


Epicurean Experiences

As the Central Tablelands' food bowl, the Orange region is the perfect place to polish up your cooking skills or simply taste some delicious food.

Local winery Ross Hill Wines — Australia's first certified carbon-neutral winery —  hosts cooking classes every other week with chef Michael Manners, as part of its school of food and wine Barrel & Larder. Classes range from how to prepare Mediterranean share plates to mastering the art of pies, pizzas and desserts. Spanish chef Rubén López Mesa also hosts classes at the school if you're wishing to add a few Spanish dishes to your repertoire.

For a taste of the region in the city centre, head to Hey Rosey, on Summer Street. This stylish wine bar celebrates local food and wines. For big feeds, opt for a roasts with seasonal veg or, for lighter bites, go for the oeuf mayonnaise with soft poached eggs, Pernod mayo and salmon roe. 

Another local favourite is Byng Street Local Store, a must-stop for breakfast, lunch or coffee on the go. From Wednesday to Saturday, the store opens for dinner service. The menu changes weekly but includes dishes like sesame fried chicken with sweet and sour sauce, beef short ribs with parmesan polenta and pork belly with tamarind and makrut lime leaf sauce. 


Cosy Stays in the Country

The Orange region has many epic spots to stay, from charming cottages to elegant hotels, but what could be more immersive than a real farm experience? Eleven kilometres from the city centre is a sixth-generation sheep station, Bondonga, where you'll find The Quarters' farm stay. Encounter all kinds of flora and fauna and spend the day as a farmer on an ATV Tour, where you'll meet lambs and get a taste of life as a sheep farmer. 

For a home away from home, The White Place Home on Byng could be the perfect stay for you. This quaint cottage, only steps away from the Byng Street Local Store, boasts four generous bedrooms, fireplaces and glass French doors that open out to an entertaining deck that overlooks an in-ground pool — ideal for a dip after a long day, weather permitting.


Whether you're planning a springtime escape or a wintry weekend away, the Orange region has fine wine, good food and spectacular surroundings that make for a great break. Start planning your trip here.

Published on May 09, 2024 by Orlaith Costello
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