Orange is the new Short Black

Words by Dorian Mode and photography by Lydia Thorpe

Orange is a cool autumn getaway for seniors

You know you’re old when you cancel your restaurant/movie booking to stay home to watch the 30th Anniversary of Gardening Australia. But we love gardens. And for that reason, we love Orange. Orange is a NSW country town with pretty gardens, rolling maple-lined streets, four distinct seasons, vineyards and a flourishing cultural scene. It’s here you’ll find both crisp country air and a killer short black. Yet it’s only a few hours from Sydney. It is supposed that Sir Thomas Mitchell named the parish for The Prince of Orange in the Peninsular War, when both were aides-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington, whose title is bestowed on the neighbouring town.

Our digs for this bucolic sojourn are the aptly named Serenity Studio. This boutique accommodation offers a modern self-contained cottage on a lazy five acres and is just a short drive to Orange’s CBD. Senior readers will adore the prize-worthy garden, which shrouds the cottage in a potpourri of sun-touched reds, oranges and yellows. We loved our cuppa on the terrace, watching the bees hop from flower to flower in pockets of sunlight, punctuated by the distant bleating of a sheep. With Serenity five-mins out of town, you really bathe in that luxurious country silence. A tonic. This is, after all, why you visit the country. The cottage at Serenity is finished to a very high spec, even the carpet is luxurious underfoot. (Having written travel for over 20 years you notice these little touches.) So, Serenity is highly recommended for senior travellers. And psst! at $130 a night, why would you stay in a soulless 1970s motel in town for the same dosh?

Our digs at the aptly named Serenity Studio

Around the corner from Serenity is the fabulous Agrestic Grocer. Housed in an industrial/agricultural straw-bale/brick building, The Agrestic has that organic farmhouse aesthetic that sits perfectly within the country/’latte society’ vibe of trendy Orange. Interestingly, the Agrestic has recently managed to diversify into the arts, with a reputation as one of the best live music venues in country NSW. The weekly Ruby Tuesday – Classic Album Night, attracts first-class Australian musicians for sold out performances of their most cherished musical albums. So, do jump onto their website to see if your favourite album is being revisited when you’re next in Orange!

Being so close to our accommodation, that day we lunch at The Agrestic on locally sourced pork. There was a time when you were lucky to get a pork pie in a café in Orange. Here Mrs Pictures enjoys house-made fettuccine w/ pulled pork pagout, baby spinach & gremolata. While I enjoy the fresh pastures pork belly salad w/ wombok, heirloom tomatoes (handed down through the generations?), fresh herbs, mixed leaves and chilli caramel dressing. It was worthy of any restaurant in Newtown. This we wash down with a flint sharp local white called Cargo Cult (recommended).

Around the corner from Serenity is the fabulous Agrestic Grocer

The following day we visit the Orange Regional Museum (free). This modest affair, mostly chronicles the area’s rich agricultural history. But we are easily pleased and rather enjoyed it. Post museum we pop upstairs to see an exhibition of the Young Archies of the Central West. As part of the Archibald Prize regional tour to Orange (also free), budding artists between the ages of 5-18 are invited to submit a portrait of someone close to them who plays an important role in their life. Mrs Pictures’ best friend’s daughter, Charli, took out the main prize with her painting ‘Babushka’ – of her grandmother. The artwork replicates Gran from 1956 when she was 22 and was attending a ball. Gran recently made the big move to Orange be close to the family in 2015. Charli didn’t really see her much before that. But now Gran plays a big role in Charli’s life.
While strolling around the centre of town, my wife finds an Aladdin’s Cave of recycled designer clothes at Frockwork Orange at 138 Lords Place. Here you’ll find a thrifty selection of second-hand designer shoes, handbags and frocks.

Orange Regional Museum (free) chronicles the area’s rich agricultural history

The following day we visit Banjo Patterson’s birthplace, now a rambling park set in gentle meadows. Originally the Buckinbah Estate, Banjo’s birthplace was broken up and sold as parcels of land in the 1920s. Sadly the old mill was blown up in the 70s. No one knows why. (Terrorists?) It’s a shame because nothing remains of our national poet’s birthplace. We stroll around and kick foundations with glum faces. However, there is a cottage rescued from the estate, recently restored by plucky Rotarians.

The cottage at Banjo Patterson's birthplace

Banjo’s cottage flanks the Orange Botanic Gardens. Orange is known as the “Colour City” and, with its four distinct seasons, the gardens are a must-see. The natural undulating 17-hectare site features an impressive native and exotic plant collection. Here we relax and enjoy the wonderful flora and district views. As well as being an ideal location for bird watching, the gardens offers the opportunity for seniors to enjoy a picnic. We also enjoy the collection of outdoor sculpture, including works by some of Australia’s best-known artists within the gardens.
As we point the car eastward, for home, in the burgeoning sunlight, we reflect on a town that has really grown up. Orange is the new short black.

Serenity Studio's boutique accommodation offers a modern self-contained cottage on a lazy five acres

Serenity Studio offers modern and quality self-contained accommodation in Orange, NSW. It sits peacefully on five acres, separated from the main house and is just a short drive to Orange’s CBD.
With extensive landscaped gardens, guests will be assured of a quiet and extremely relaxing stay. The garden views can be enjoyed from the comfort of your bed or in the private courtyard.
19 Hewitt Close, Orange NSW
MB: 0431 260 417
Email:  serenity@serenitystudio.com.au