A few weekends ago we decided to take a road trip – basically the kind of holiday you plan when time and money are limited. After a whirlwind tour through Canberra, we continued our trip pointed towards Orange. The drive between Canberra and Orange is just what any roadtripper might hope for. Small highways that pass from one tiny town to the next, each town small enough that you could get a pretty decent summary of it just by passing through. Although, had it not been past the hour when things in country towns stay open, we would have easily spent a happy hour in Boorowa, reveling in the perfectly intact country Australian streetfronts, homespun gift shops and dusty old hotels.
Knowing that we wouldn’t make it to Orange until 10pm, we decided to stop in Cowra for dinner. Surprisingly for me, Cowra has some well-respected restaurants, but since we were feeling like something a little more casual, we opted for The Oxley Wine Bar. Wood-fired pizzas + local wines by the glass for under $7 + craft beer + live music? I really couldn’t think of a better combination.
A couple hours later we rolled up to our Airbnb accommodation near the centre of town. Our lovely hosts had actually renovated their home so that the front half was like a private apartment with its own entrance, 2 rooms plus bathroom, and a verandah with fairy lights so that we could sit out and sip on our wine in the country air.
The next morning we headed out to what I would call, the Grand Boulevard, the epicentre of Orange’s charm. The long, leafy main street is where all the shopping action is, as well as connecting the main parks, cafes and foodie shops. Hidden away from all of this though, we found one of Orange’s best coffee shops and roasters – Bill’s Beans. I devoured a long black and frittata to fuel me for our day of wine tasting.
We started our wine tour at Philip Shaw, probably the best-known winery in Orange, they have recently moved their cellar door to a new location which is very picturesque but not where they actually grow their grapes. The brand new building is pretty slick and we had very attentive service from the sommelier. It’s just a shame that the landscaping had not really begun so we did feel a little bit like we were in the middle of a construction site.
After Philip Shaw, we visited Ross Hill, Dindima and Brangayne, and then it was time to get ready for dinner. Unfortunately, although we had booked at Union Bank, they had messed up our reservation and couldn’t seat us (it seems they have gone downhill recently, and I regretted not booking at Lolli Redini.) Since it was then too late to get in to Lolli Redini, we settled on Sweet Sour Salt, a modern Asian restaurant that turned out to be pretty decent with both food and service. On our way back to Sydney we had a scrumptious, healthy locally sourced breakfast at The Agrestic Grocer, and stopped in for a visit at the scenic Beekeepers Inn.
Word of advice – make sure you book ahead at restaurants and ensure they’re open when you plan on visiting. Many cafes, shops, farms, wineries etc. don’t keep regular hours or aren’t open on Sundays – and what you may have read on a travel forum or even on their website, might not be up to date. It’s worth a call to double check!