The Delights of Orange, New South Wales

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Orange Visitor Information Centre: Located at 151 Byng St, Orange NSW 2800, Australia, the Orange Visitor Information Centre is a great place to start your visit. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can provide you with all the local information you need. They can assist you with maps, brochures, itineraries, and tours. The center is open every day except Christmas Day and closes at 5 PM. You can contact them at +61 1800 069 466.

Orange, located in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia, is a vibrant and flourishing city known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and as a prime destination for food and wine enthusiasts. With a population that exceeds 40,000 residents. It is experiencing steady growth due to its appealing lifestyle, economic opportunities, and its attractiveness as a regional hub for health, education, and business services. For many it combines the charm of rural life with the amenities and diversity of a larger city.

 History of Orange

Orange’s story spans millennia, initially as the homeland of the Wiradjuri clan group. This indigenous community thrived around the upper Macquarie River and its tributaries, with an estimated population of 500-600 people across this and neighboring clan groups in Mudgee and Wellington. Daily life unfolded in smaller familial units of 20-40 members, inhabiting fertile valleys like Summer Hill and Cadiangullong Creek. The year-round availability of water suggests a permanent settlement, though winter may have driven inhabitants from lower areas. Further insights into this period are detailed in the Orange Aboriginal Heritage Report.

The arrival of European settlers marked a new chapter, with the area initially known as Blackmans Swamp. In 1846, it was proclaimed a village and renamed Orange by Major Thomas Mitchell, in tribute to Prince William of Orange, whom Mitchell had served under during the Napoleonic Wars. Prince William would later ascend to the throne of the Netherlands.

Orange’s evolution continued with the discovery of gold in 1851 by William Tom and John Lister at Ophir, followed by findings in Lucknow. These discoveries transformed the region, ushering in an era of prosperity and attracting a diverse populace alongside businesses like the famed Cobb & Co, which provided gold escorts and Royal Mail Services.

However, it was the region’s fertile lands that underpinned its sustainable growth. By the 1860s, Orange was celebrated as “the granary of the west,” thanks to its successful wheat and barley crops and the establishment of flour mills.

Notably, Orange is the birthplace of the esteemed Australian poet, Banjo Paterson, born on February 17, 1864, in the home of John Templer. Banjo Paterson Park, located on Ophir Road, honors his legacy with a monument and statue.

On January 9, 1860, Orange was declared a Municipality, holding its inaugural Council meeting at the Court House under the chairmanship of John Peisley. This marked the beginning of Orange’s development into a pivotal regional center.

As the 20th Century approached, Orange witnessed a surge in construction to accommodate its growing population. The town expanded with new housing, subdivisions, and the introduction of motorcars, paving the way for the modern city known today.

(with thanks to Orange City Council for background information)

orange-historic
A historic Orange

Industries

Orange’s economy is diverse, with significant contributions from several key industries:

  • Agriculture: The region is renowned for its productive soils and cool climate, making it ideal for fruit growing, particularly apples and cherries. Viticulture is also a major industry, with the Orange Wine Region being one of the most highly regarded in Australia for its cool climate wines.
  • Mining: The area is rich in natural resources, including gold and copper. The Cadia Valley operations, one of the largest gold and copper mining operations in Australia, is located near Orange, playing a significant role in the local and regional economy.
  • Health and Education: Orange serves as a regional hub for health and education services, housing the Orange Health Service, which is one of the largest rural hospitals in Australia, and a campus of Charles Sturt University.
  • Tourism: The city’s food and wine culture, combined with its historic sites, beautiful parks, and gardens, contribute significantly to its tourism industry. Festivals and events, particularly those celebrating its culinary and vinicultural excellence, draw visitors from across Australia and internationally.

Festivals

The city hosts a number of festivals throughout the year celebrating its heritage and agricultural prowess, including the iconic Orange F.O.O.D Week, which is Australia’s longest-running regional food festival, and the Orange Wine Festival. These festivals draw food and wine enthusiasts from all over to enjoy the fresh produce and unique culinary experiences that Orange has to offer.

Main Attractions of Orange

orange_wineries_destination_nsw
Orange Wineries Destination NSW
  • Orange Wine Region: Celebrated for its cool climate wines, the region is home to numerous vineyards and wineries offering tastings and tours.
  • Mount Canobolas: A dormant volcano, Mount Canobolas offers spectacular views, walking trails, and picnic spots, making it a popular destination for nature lovers.
  • Historic Heritage: Orange boasts a rich architectural legacy, with well-preserved 19th-century buildings. The Orange Heritage Trail is a testament to the city’s historical significance, guiding visitors through its charming streets.
  • Food and Wine Festival: The city’s food and wine festival showcases the region’s gourmet produce and fine wines, highlighting Orange’s status as a culinary hotspot.
  • Botanic Gardens: Orange Botanic Gardens present a tranquil escape with native and exotic plant species, perfect for leisurely walks and family outings.
  • Heifer Station Wines: A winery where you can enjoy wine tasting and learn about the winemaking process.
  • Rowlee Wines: Another winery known for its award-winning wines and beautiful vineyard views.
  • Cook Park: A picturesque park with beautiful gardens, picnic areas, and a duck pond. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.
  • Lake Canobolas: A scenic lake where you can go for a walk, have a picnic, or enjoy water activities like kayaking and fishing.
  • Orange Regional Gallery: An art gallery that showcases a range of contemporary and traditional artworks.
  • Gosling Creek Reserve: A nature reserve with walking trails, birdwatching opportunities, and a lake for fishing.
  • Orange Regional Museum: A museum that offers insights into the history and culture of the region.
orange_botanic_gardens_credit_Petee_Frederiksen
Orange Botanic Gardens. Credit Petee Frederiksen

Millthorpe

Located merely a 20-minute journey from Orange and a three-hour drive west of Sydney, Millthorpe is celebrated by the National Trust for its significant colonial heritage. The village is dotted with a collection of exquisite historic structures, each telling tales of a bygone era.The town has quaint streets and historic buildings, such as the heritage-listed village of Millthorpe, which dates back to 1861.

Millthorpe_credit_life_and_about
Millthorpe. Impossibly lovely. Image montage credit Life and About

This picturesque village is adorned with streets lined by cherry blossoms and flowering gardens, while its surrounding landscapes are a vibrant tapestry of yellow canola fields and stunning purple hues, where even the typically unwelcome Paterson’s curse transforms into a breathtaking spectacle. The village is a treasure trove of meticulously restored historic buildings, offering a plethora of picturesque scenes for those enchanted by the charm of quaint villages. With its array of comfortable accommodations, delightful cafes, and the highly acclaimed Tonic Restaurant, Millthorpe has successfully reimagined itself as a coveted tourist haven.

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