Orange, Australia

A foodies road trip to Orange

Orange is about 3 ½ hours west of Sydney, an area famous for wine and food. The perfect destination for any foodies.  The aim was to eat ourselves silly and wash it all down with delicious wine.

It didn’t quite go to plan – we hadn’t factored in the New Year holiday season, and it turns out that many places were closed.  Happily though we didn’t starve, we managed to find some restaurants and wineries to sate us.

First up was “Sweet Sour Salt” a modern Asian restaurant a few minutes’ walk from where we were staying.  It was absolutely delicious, with fresh asian flavours.  Definitely recommended!  Lunch the next day turned out to be a bit of a challenge, as several of the places that we drove to turned out to be closed.  But finally we found an open winery and asked for suggestions.  The helpful lady 1870, pretty sure it was open. I thought I’d read about it and it was supposed to be quite nice. It was, on both counts!  Lunch for me was a lamb backstrap with mint pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes and polenta chips.  Yum!

I was feeling much happier after a nice meal, and my view of Orange became much rosier again. We also had an excellent waitress who gave us some great tips for the afternoon, so we were off again, visiting some gorgeous local (open!) wineries: Orange Mountain; Dindima; and Borodell. The last of these was at the top of a very steep and long driveway so not surprisingly had the most stunning views from the top. The region is a cool climate wine region, and often get snow during the winter. Wineries tended to be much smaller than the larger holdings in other parts of the country that I have visited, and the region itself is quite a new grape growing area, only getting underway in the early 1990s. They seem to be doing something right though, as the wine was delicious.

From there it was back to Orange, and dinner was at Union Bank, a fantastic casual restaurant / bar a few minutes’ walk from our hotel, which I enjoyed enormously.

The next day we decided to head up to Mt Canobolas for some bush walking. There are two peaks, the “Old Man” Canobolas, the largest summit, and “Young Man” Canobolas. We drove to the top to the viewpoint on Old Man Canobolas – it was really spectacular with 360 degree views as far as the eye could see. Stunning.

We then set off for our bush walk. The ranger was in the car park as we were about to head off, so we started chatting. Of course me and my snake obsession meant I had to ask if there were any snakes about. He said that the snakes were pretty active right at the moment and then proceeded to tell me about the different types I might see –brown snakes, “very aggressive!”, copperhead snakes, “very venomous!”; and a variety of black snakes, “all deadly!”. “Have you got a cellphone with you?” he asked. I assured him I did, but really wanted to know what to do if I saw one. He suggested that if there’s one on the path ahead of us we just turn back. This was very concerning and I spent a lot of time worrying about seeing a snake. What do we if see two – one ahead of us and one behind us? What if they trap us? Although at least we had selected a loop track so in theory there was always a way out. Despite this, I spent a great deal of time pondering these things as we set off, clutching my cellphone.

Not long into our walk, ten minutes or so, we came across another ranger doing some spraying, but apart from him it was just us on the walk. It was very beautiful, and we also took in a side trip to the top of Young Man Canobolas for another peek at the views. We returned about an hour or so later and the ranger was in the carpark. “So, did you girls see any snakes?” he asked. Nope, just us and the other ranger. “Well that’s a relief,” he said, “just after you went in, my boss came out to get a compression bandage, as he came across a large brown snake.” Our eyes widened – a near miss! “Actually,” he continued, “if you’re going to be doing any other walks in the area it would be worth getting a compression bandage – you put it on the limb that’s been bitten and it slows the spread of the venom.” Um, definitely not. No, we’ll be straight back to the city thanks very much.

Dinner that night was at Lolli Redini, an award winning restaurant and highly recommended by everyone we had spoken to. It certainly did not disappoint – the food was sensational. This restaurant is worth the trip alone!

Next day it was farewell to Orange and on to Bathurst. It’s a very sweet little town, most famous for motor racing. This is not one of my interests by any stretch of the imagination, so we skipped the National Motor Racing Museum and after a very brief drive around Bathurst and a coffee stop, we headed straight to the Jenolan Caves.

I had never heard of the Jenolan Caves before this visit, but the drive there was gorgeous through narrow windy roads in a thick forest, and once we arrived I realised that these caves are huge! There are 11 cave systems, underground rivers, and a myriad of weird and wonderful limestone and crystal formations. On a very hot day, they are also blissfully cool. The only way to see the caves is by way of a guided tour. We decided to explore the Chifley cave, mainly because we were buying our ticket at 1.12pm and this particular tour departed at 1.15pm. It was pretty impressive; I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, so all in all, a very happy diversion.

So then it was back to the big smoke, the car laden with wine. We had certainly tasted Orange, and were not disappointed.

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