Foodie Experiences in the Orange Region Worthy of a Road Trip All Year Round

Discover festivals amongst the vines, fine dining eats and a new love for chardonnay in the 'food basket' of New South Wales.
Cordelia Williamson
Published on October 27, 2020

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If you consider yourself to be quite the foodie, then no doubt you've already made your way through most of the top restaurants around your favourite cities. So what now? One way to curb the food boredom blues is by escaping the humdrum urban life and heading to regional areas to feast on the best they have to offer. Travel and eating are delightfully intertwined (in our books, anyway) — and you don't even have to travel long distances to discover exciting new eats. One place to add to the bucket list is the picturesque NSW pocket of Orange, located just a four-hour drive from Sydney.

The old mining town has transformed into a major foodie destination. Wine is the obvious go-to, with vineyards surrounding the region as far as the eye can see. On top of fine wine, there are cooking schools, a thriving festival calendar, abundant orchards and private fine dining events in luxe farmhouse stays. Plus, its neighbouring historic townships and friendly hospitality make it feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of city living. To help get you planning your next food-fuelled trip, we've teamed up with the folks at Orange360 to round up the very best of the region — from the must-visit restaurants to the lesser-known gems whatever time of year you visit.



Orange is renowned for its cool-climate wines. And if there's one thing that oenophiles love it's food perfectly paired to their delicious drops. If you're heading to the rolling hills of Orange over the warmer months, one way to soak up the sunshine and clean, crisp country air is by having a picnic. Instead of rolling out the blanket in any old spot, though, head to a local winery and feast among the vines.

If you're looking to go all out on an al fresco feast, head straight to Heifer Station. The stunning 130-acre winery, located on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, offers private picnics beneath willow trees all summer long but fireside wine tasting for those heading out in winter. Not content with having excellent wines and platters, they also have an animal farm out the back where you can visit alpacas, goats and ponies. Or, you can sit back and feast on local produce and freshly baked goods, while sipping minimal-intervention vino at family-run estate Swinging Bridge for the perfect encapsulation of Orange wines.

To those venturing out during the cooler months, fret not, with a winter wine and food festival on the roster and year-round fantastic wineries and eateries available for being wined and dined, there's always something to enjoy at Orange. Check out the Orange Winter Fire Festival and enjoy a delicious meal under the stars while being warmed by a cosy fire and enjoying a glass of rich red wine.



As you'll be in one of the country's top emerging wine regions, you'll want to sample as much of the nectar of the gods as possible. You'll have your work cut out for you though; Orange is home to more than 60 wineries and over 40 cellar doors. One must-visit vino stop is the award-winning Colmar Estate, run by Bill and Jane Shrapnel, where you'll sip everything from riesling to sparkling rosé from its cellar door overlooking its stunning vineyard. Then, make tracks to Nashdale Lane Wines to up your wine knowledge even more. Nashdale also has luxe glamping tents you can stay in, should you imbibe a little too much.

You can then head to Slow Wine Co's cellar door in the historic town of Millthorpe, just 15 minutes from Orange. As the name suggests, Slow Wine Co's ethos is 'wines crafted by time', with each drop taking two years from budburst to bottling, and using only natural processes. After a guided tasting, you can enjoy a lunch cheese platter supplied by Millthorpe Providore or if you plan on being there later in the week, Slow Wine Co also opens as a Tapas Wine Bar from 5.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.



Food-wise, Orange pretty much has it all. There are bakeries, buzzing cafes, restaurants, izakayas, gelaterias and pubs — and you'll want to fit in at least one fine dining experience while you're there. Orange's finer establishments are still relatively laidback. Here, it's all about celebrating the very best local produce. In town, you'll find Charred Kitchen & Bar, serving up the likes of crab, salmon and lamb rump, all cooked in the restaurant's bespoke charcoal oven, cheekily named Lucifer.

In Millthorpe, you cannot leave without visiting Tonic. Established in 2003 by owners Tony and Nicole Worland, the award-winning restaurant brings both locals and foodie pilgrims alike. Tony Worland boasts quite the resume, having worked beside the likes of Matt Moran, Michael Manners and Gordon Ramsay, so expect ambitious food, showcasing local producers, of course. If you can fit one more fancy feast in, Sister's Rock, situated at Borrodell Estate, is a must. The warm timber fit-out is welcoming and without pretension and the restaurant overlooks the vineyard, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely lunch.



Eating food is one thing, but taking the time to cook your own next-level feast brings another kind of joy — no matter whether you're a bit of a novice or a wizard in the kitchen. So, on top of all the dining, you'll be doing, book yourself and your date or mates into a cooking workshop with one of the Orange region's leading culinary masters.

Go-to cooking school Barrel & Larder at Ross Hill Wines runs a number of classes throughout the year, each with a different focus, from canapé courses to curry masterclasses and American-style barbecue sessions — all taught by a different local chef. You can also arrange your own private class with up to 12 people. After you whip up some nosh, you'll sit down and feast on your own dishes while drinking plenty of tasty wine. Or, if you'd rather kick back and relax, you can book your own private fine dining experience at Cadogan Country House.


Destination NSW


If you're serious about food, make sure you visit Orange in autumn. It's when the region throws its annual ten-day food party, F.O.O.D. (Food of Orange District) Week, which shows off the best fare from 'The Food Basket' of New South Wales, including top-quality local produce, chefs and restaurants, as well as cool-climate wines. Keep an eye on the website for the next program, which will be filled to the brim with big signature events and smaller more intimate events hosted at local restaurants and cellar doors.



Before you hit the bitumen to make your way back to the big smoke, you'll want to stock up on all the gourmet goodies and fine wines you can stuff into your boot. For artisanal cheese, bread, hams, relishes, oils, jams and chocolates, head to Red Chilli Deli or, swing by The Agrestic Grocer for, well, anything that takes your fancy. The hub serves as a grocer specialising in local produce, as well as a cafe, bar, workshop space and live music venue.

There's also the monthly Orange Farmers Market (on the second Saturday of each month), where you can support all the local growers, farmers and makers directly. For booze, stop in at Orange's top-notch bottle shop Lane Cellars. Here, you'll find a bunch of locally produced wines, craft beers and ciders, as well as drops from some of Australia's top winemakers and breweries. At wine bar and bottle shop Ferment, you'll find wines and spirits from small-time producers that don't have cellar doors themselves. And Orange Cellars stocks local vino, brews and spirits for you to take home and add to your bar cart.

Want to gather your own produce and enjoy the fruits of your labour? Grab a basket and pick your own figs, berries and apples from the region's abundant orchards. Family-owned farm Hillside Harvest, located just ten kilometres out of town, grows everything from various apple varieties to cherries, berries, peaches, plums and nectarines. At Huntley Berry Farm you can pick 11 different berries over summer and autumn, while at Norland Fig Orchard you can pick delicious figs (naturally), plus purchase jams, pastes and chutney and even have a picnic lunch.


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 city break — at any time of year. Start planning your trip here

Published on October 27, 2020 by Cordelia Williamson
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