Where beauty and liveability convert tourists to treechangers
STORY: KYLIE DULHUNTY PHOTOGRAPHY: Destination NSW
Set in the shadow of the ancient volcano, Mount Canobolas, Orange is renowned for its cool climate wines, an abundance of fresh produce and its crisp, snowy winters.
Its natural beauty lures thousands of visitors each year, but during the 2020 pandemic, the town’s profile soared, as many of those city tourists saw it as the ideal place for a treechange.
Just three and a half hours from Sydney, Orange has welcomed an influx of couples and young families over recent years lured by affordable real estate, excellent education facilities and the area’s vibrant food and wine sector.
Orange is home to more than 80 vineyards and 30-plus cellar doors, with a wide variety of wine produced including everything from pinot noir to cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
Not to be outdone, local produce includes orchards filled with apples, plums, peaches, cherries and berries, while pork and bacon products are also available, along with preserves, bread, dips, soups, chocolate, honey and other gourmet items.
Visitors can buy direct from the farm gate, or head to the Orange Farmers Market, which is held on the second Saturday of every month.
The market started in 2002 with 25 producers, but now boasts more than 60 stalls and acts as a regular meeting place for families, farmers, friends and businesses.
Orange is also home to Australia’s longest-running regional food festival, called F.O.O.D Week, which will celebrate its 30th birthday when the event kicks off in April 2021.
The 10-day community festival celebrates the Orange region’s food and wine along with the farmers who grow it and chefs that create dishes with it.
It’s safe to say Orange is renowned for its festivals, with Wine Month another popular event held in October.
Those that love Australian history and poetry will adore the Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival, which is held each February to coincide with his birthday on February 17.
Paterson was born in Orange and grew up in nearby Yeoval, and the festival includes bush poetry, professional entertainers, school performances, dinners, markets and barbecues.
Other festivals include the Winter Fire Festival, while Orange also has a vibrant arts and culture footprint with the Orange Regional Museum and the Orange Regional Gallery, which is undergoing a $5 million extension.
There’s also the slightly quirky Animals on Bikes, which is a 120km paddock art sculpture trail with 111 structures running along the back road from nearby Molong to Cumnock and Yeovale, all the way to Dubbo Zoo.
Dotted around the region you’ll also find about 20 character-filled, historic towns, all with their own attractions.
This includes the National Trust classified Carcoar, which is one of the oldest settlements west of the Blue Mountains, and features many well preserved 19th century buildings.
Today, the local population is a touch over 41,000, and tipped to reach about 50,000 by 2036.
To meet the growth, infrastructure and investment are high on the Orange City Council’s agenda. It has developed the Future City project, which aims to support local businesses and create a vibrant CBD that will attract more investment.
The three-year plan is already underway, with $5 million allocated in the first year for projects including the creation of a pedestrian mall in Anson St.
The Federal Government also recently announced that it would fund 37 medical student places at Charles Sturt University’s new medical school in Orange.
The Orange medical school is one of five that form the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network and which are sharing $74 million in funding to help attract and retain doctors.
Families considering a move to this vibrant regional town will be heartened by the diversity of educational options. There are six public primary schools, six private primary schools, one special needs primary school and 21 preschool and early childhood centres. Secondary school students have a choice of two public schools, four private or Catholic schools and one special needs school.
TAFE Western Orange Colleges joins the Charles Sturt University providing tertiary options.
Travel time is approximately 60 minutes.
WATTLE ROAD 🖤
It’s no surprise that Orange attracts thousands of visitors a year. It is a vibrant town that showcases fantastic local produce and the beauty of NSW’s Central Tablelands.
Distance (from Sydney): 254km
Who Lives Here?
According to the 2016 Census
- The median age of people in Orange was 37 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 21.3% of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 16.7% of the population
- Of the families in Orange, 41.7% were couple families with children, 37.6% were couple families without children and 19.4% were one parent families.
- 4% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were England 1.6%, India 1.0%, New Zealand 0.9%, Philippines 0.5% and China 0.4%.
- The most common occupations in Orange included professionals 21.0%, technicians and yrades workers 14.7%, clerical and administrative workers 13.0%, community and personal service workers 11.8%, and labourers 10.8%.
Climate: Due to its altitude, some 863m above sea level, Orange has a temperate oceanic climate, with warm summers and cool winters. Orange is one of the few cities in Australia to receive regular snowfall in winter, with July being the coldest month with an average high of 9.3 degrees. In summer, January is the hottest month with an average high of 26 degrees. August is usually the wettest month with average rainfall of 93.6mm.
Major employers: Mining, health care, education, state and local government.
Education: The Orange region boasts two major tertiary institutions, seven secondary schools, 13 public primary schools and five independent schools.
Transport: A comprehensive bus service operates throughout Orange and buses take passengers to outlying villages. NSW TrainLink runs daily services from Sydney to Lithgow with connecting coaches to Orange.
Property prices: The median house price is $509,500 and for units it is $307,600. Based on the last five years property sales, Orange has seen a growth rate of 8.1 percent in houses prices.
NBN connection: Fibre To The Node (FTTN)
Sport and recreation: Rugby, AFL, soccer, netball, tennis, cricket, swimming, athletics, basketball, hockey, dragon boating.
Arts and Culture: Orange Regional Gallery, Orange Regional Museum, Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival, Orange F.O.O.D Week, Orange Wine Month, Winter Fire Festival.
LAURA COLE, PHOTOGRAPHER
Orange is just a beautiful town to live in, both scenically and because of all of the great things to see and do here. Something as simple as going for a walk in Orange is beautiful, especially in autumn when all of the leaves are changing colour.
I love that Orange has four distinct seasons as I’m from Dubbo, which is only 90 minutes away, and it’s just hot there. We get snow in Orange, which is always lovely.
I’m a country girl, but then I moved to Sydney for 10 years before moving to Orange with my husband, Cameron, in 2014. We left Sydney because it was so expensive and we wouldn’t have been able to have a house with a backyard. We have three children now, Adelaide, 5, Rex, 2, and Cleo is five weeks old.
Orange is fabulous for raising a family as it has lots of facilities for new mums, the hospital and midwives are amazing and the schools and daycare programs are incredible.
I love that we are only three-and-a-half-hours from Sydney, so that all of our friends can come for a weekend to visit and we can easily go there. Orange has so much to show them when they visit, from the wineries and fresh produce, to different festivals throughout the year.
The food here really rivals Sydney. When we moved I was a bit worried we’d miss Sydney food, but that hasn’t been the case at all, as there are some incredible restaurants here. A lot of places, like the wineries, also have things for children to do, such as sandpits and animals, so it’s really family-oriented.