On the way back from our trip to Lightning Ridge we stopped for a night in Orange. As the name suggests this area is a big fruit growing area. Apples, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots, and plums, but oddly not oranges! The reason is simple. The climate is too cool for growing oranges. As the town sits at about 860 metres above sea level it can have regular frost during the winter. Despite that the area is becoming an increasingly popular place for vineyards and hence wine-making.
The main industry is agriculture but there is also a large gold mine about 20km from the city. Cadia is the second largest open-cut mine in Australia, behind the the so called ‘Super Pit’ at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. The area around Orange experienced a gold rush during the mid-1800s.
We had passed through Orange on the Outback Xplorer train to Broken Hill several months earlier. But the train route passes the edge of town so you never really see anything. This short visit we had a good old look around the town.
My immediate impression once we started walking around the town centre was that Orange is a thriving place. For example, there did not seem to be any empty shops.
That particular observation changed in an instant after a car sped round a corner where we were waiting to cross, mounted the opposite curb (the one we were heading to) and crashed through an empty shop window. One way to notice an empty shop I suppose. The driver was clearly stunned but OK. He must have just lost control or forgotten where the brakes were? Dani thought it was exciting. I should have taken some photos but it really took us by surprise. Amazingly the car missed the people opposite us waiting to cross. It could have been a lot worse.
Apart from that one place of business however, I really didn’t notice any empty shop fronts. All that after the crazy year 2020 everyone has been through. Not bad I thought…
The town has plenty of historic looking buildings and we followed the heritage trail map we picked up at the tourist information. Here are some of them…
I can’t remember what they were or what they were famous for but the walk was pleasant enough. It also took us into Cook Park where there were various non-native trees including some giants.
Pubs. Lots of them!
Another thing I liked about Orange was the number of pubs it had in a relatively small area. Probably the highest density of pubs I have seen so far in Australia. Here are a few photos of some of those watering holes…
In Australia many of the “pubs” are also “hotels” of course. (Don’t ask me why but I do need to get to the bottom of that one.) So they also serve decent food. There are also a relatively large number of restaurants in the town centre. So it’s a great place to visit just to relax for a weekend of eating and drinking .And that’s before you try the area’s wine cellars.
Not the best museum I have seen I will admit. But there was an interesting exhibition of propaganda through the world wars. here are some of them.
Matthew Park just one block off the tow centre had the best small gauge rideable model railway set up I have ever seen. But it was closed. You guessed it. Bloody Covid crap again! Anyway this model railway had multiple shunting lines, several routes, two bridge crossings and a “station”. Check it out below…
We never saw any of the fruit growing, wineries or gold mining (old or new) on this visit – just the town. But I think it’s fair to say that we liked Orange. Another visit, with a proper plan to explore the surrounding areas, is already in my mind.