How to spend a long weekend in Orange

Famed for its cool-climate wine, exceptional food, characterful houses and beautifully-curated shops, Orange is the ideal place to while away a long weekend.

Five hours drive from Newcastle, four hours from Sydney and 45-minutes from Bathurst, Orange is close enough to visit just for the weekend, but far enough away to feel like you've escaped the rat race.

With its four distinct seasons, the scenery in Orange is stunning all year-round, but - if we had to choose - we'd suggest visiting in spring when the vines are budding, the flowers are blooming and the weather's beginning to warm up. Here's our guide on how to spend a decadent and relaxing weekend in Australia's Colour City.


1 PM: Lunch at The Old Mill Café, Millthorpe

After a long drive, you'll be eager to stretch your legs and sit down for a bite to eat. The historic town of Millthorpe is a great place to stop en route to Orange, and the folks at The Old Mill Café serve delicious lunches, cakes, coffee and local wines.


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2.30 PM: Explore the shops at Millthorpe

Once you've refuelled, take the time to explore the sweet town and its charming shops, selling everything from homewares and antiques to art and clothing.


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4.00 PM: Check into Lakeview Retreat

If you're looking to soak up as much of Orange's natural beauty as possible, book into one of Lakeview Retreat's luxury and eco-friendly cabins, located in Canobolas, about 15-minutes drive from Orange's town centre. 

Each cabin has its own private balcony with amazing views out to Lake Canobolas. Inside, no detail has been overlooked, with the cabins fitted with high-spec amenities - including an electric fireplace in the living area and underfloor heating in the bathroom - and a well-stocked fridge, overflowing with delicious produce sourced from the local area.

7.30 PM Dinner at Union Bank Wine Bar

Come for the wine, stay for the food - but beware, you'll hardly be able to decide between each delicious drop on the extensive wine list at the Union Bank Wine Bar

Nestle into a cosy corner in Orange's former first bank, which has been sensitively-restored, and tuck into the varied menu, with everything from whole-roasted fish to arancini balls.


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9.30 PM Drinks at Washington & Co Whiskey Bar

You've tried some of Orange's wine, and now it's time for a cocktail or two. Whether you're looking for a civilised nightcap or somewhere to kick on till closing time, the Washington & Co Whiskey Bar fits the bill.

With a lengthy and carefully-selected list of whiskeys - ranging from house liquor to top-of-the-shelf tipples - along with an inventive cocktail list, you could be holed up in this prohibition-era inspired bar for a while.


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9 AM: Breakfast at Lakeview Retreat

While Orange isn't short of breakfast spots, enjoy the tranquil surrounds this morning and cook up some of the top-notch breakfast goodies supplied to you by your hosts at Lakeview. In your fridge, you'll find local eggs, bacon, sausages and bread (plus vegetarian options, if you let them know in advance) to be cooked up on your BBQ, along with fresh fruit, yoghurt and muesli, if you're that way inclined.


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10:30 AM: Shopping in Orange

Orange is well-known for its great shopping, and it's worth dedicating the rest of your morning to checking out what's on offer. We recommend The Sonic, Hawkes General Store, Mary & Tex Emporium, The White Place, Ferment and The Corner Store Gallery.


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1:00 PM: Wine-tasting at Nashdale Lane

You absolutely cannot visit Orange without trying as much local wine as you can. Nashdale Lane is one of the region's newest wineries, serving up award-winning rosé, Riesling and Pinot Gris, along with other very drinkable reds.

Their newly-renovated cellar door is the perfect place to start your Orange wine tasting-journey, so pull up a pew, soak up the big sky views and let the charming owners - Tanya and Nick Segger - fill your glass up with some very memorable wines.

2:00 PM: Lunch at Racine Restaurant

All that shopping and wine-tasting can make a person very hungry, so it's a good thing Racine Restaurant is only a stone's throw from Nashdale Lane.

Located in a charming country cottage overlooking vineyards and Mount Conobolas, owners Shaun and Willa Arantz are out to prove that rural doesn't have to mean rustic. The result is a truly elegant menu with beautifully-presented dishes that use as many local ingredients as possible and - most importantly - taste insanely good.

With exceptional service and stunning surroundings, Racine is the kind of place you could end up losing an entire afternoon - all in the name of good food, great wine and a bit of downtime.


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4:30 PM: Walk up Pinnacle Lookout

Are you full yet? We're guessing that's a yes. Get your heart-rate going (dinner's only a few hours away!) with a short but steep walk up to Pinnacle Lookout. You'll pass through World Heritage-listed rainforest and be rewarded with 360-degree views over to the coastline and Wollumbin.


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7:30 PM: Dinner at Charred Restaurant

You've walked up to Pinnacle Lookout and now you may just be heading to the culinary pinnacle of your time in Orange. Charred Restaurant cleverly infuses each dish on its menu with a delicate smokiness and, here, casual dining does most certainly not mean average food.

Everything on the menu is made for sharing, but - before you're put off by the thought of messy sharing plates and trying to work out how to cut a prawn evenly in half - the chefs ingeniously plate up your own individual portion, allowing you and your dining companions to discuss what you're tasting and enjoy it together.

While you're inevitably ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the unbelievable food, there's just as much of a taste sensation awaiting you in your wine glass. The wine list at Charred is inventive and unusual, celebrating Australia's best and most experimental wines. If you're not sure where to start, the very knowledgeable sommelier will point you in the right direction, but we highly recommend the Cullen 'Rose Moon' pétillant naturel for something a little bit festive.


10:30 AM: Walk around Lake Canobolas

After a lie-in and another home-cooked breakfast, take a walk from your Lakeview Retreat to Lake Canobolas. There's an easy circular route right from your door, which will take you around the lake, past fields of cows and abundant natural beauty.

12:00 PM: Wine tasting at Rowlee Wines

You're absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to wineries in Orange, but to narrow it down for you, we suggest stopping in at Rowlee Wines before lunch. Sitting in the foothills of Mount Canobolas, the wines at Rowlee are made in small batches, ensuring top-quality wine is produced.

1 PM: Lunch at The Agrestic Grocer

Swing by this local favourite for a casual bite to eat while listening to some live music and drinking some beer from Badlands Brewery, which operates on site.

The Agrestic Grocer prides itself on serving fresh, local and ethically-sourced food, and offers up daily specials catering to all taste buds. Once you've lined your tummy, pop into the grocery store for some cheese from the Second Mouse Cheese Co - which also operates out of the venue - to take back home with you.


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Orange Wine Festival runs from 12 to 21 October 2018, showcasing the best local produce and cool climate wines from Orange.

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