Get Out Of Town: Cycling in Orange

Somewhere out of Molong

Cycling in Orange

Throw your bike on the roof-rack (or hop on the XPT) and head to Orange for a weekend of riding. 250km from Sydney, Orange is NSW’s food bowl and home to some fine produce and wines, making it the perfect destination for cycling along country roads interspersed with quality ‘refueling’ stops.

Where to ride

The broad tree-lined roads in town make for a pleasant ride when exploring Orange itself and there are cycle routes signposted to guide your way, or stop in at the tourist information centre where the helpful staff will give you maps of the town and nearby wineries, and answer just about any question you can think of. As long as you promise to spit, you could even ride from cellar-door to cellar-door and taste the fruit of the local vines, and if anything takes your fancy order a case to be dropped off at your hotel. Be warned, you might not get very far: we tried this and didn’t make it past our first cellar-door, Mortimer’s of Orange just North of town. With a hot afternoon sun in the sky, we found it all too easy to sit in the garden and enjoy a cheese platter while sampling the produce.

For a more energetic but no less picturesque ride, a 26km loop out to Lake Canobolas via Pinnacle Rd should get you warmed up, provided you aren’t tempted by all the food and wine en route, such as good-food-guide-hatted Racine, Borrodell vineyard, or the cafe on the lake. If you need a bit more, turn down Mount Canobolas Rd and challenge yourself to the 400m ascent over 5.7km to the summit, the second half of it on unsealed road which should make the return descent interesting. At the top you’ll have expansive views over the town and neighbouring region, and can even enjoy a bushwalk if you’ve got the energy.

If you really want to clock up some miles, then make the most of the country roads and loop out to neighbouring towns and back. The Audax rides organised during our visit offered 100km, 150km and 200km loops on the Saturday, but we opted for Sunday’s ride to Euchareena, Molong, and back to Orange. Setting out in the crisp morning air, we rolled North past the Duntryleague golf course, out of town and past Mortimer’s (again) and onto country roads proper. The ride to Euchareena is peaceful with rolling views to the East when the fields drop away, and plenty of livestock staring quizzically at you as you pass. Euchareena isn’t much more than a gathering of buildings, including a tiny country church-house and tin-roofed houses. The road to Molong might not be the smoothest, but it makes up for it by being almost desserted, and extremely photogenic as it undulates through fields alternating between vines, canola and pasturage. Molong has more to offer for the weary traveller, with a country pub on the corner as soon as you hit town, and Barnsy’s cafe and a supermarket (and public amenities) on the main street. By now the sun was high and our legs tiring, so the stretch back up to Orange along the busier Mitchell Highway was the least pleasant of the day.

Where to refuel

When it comes to getting a decent feed, you can’t go wrong in Orange. We treated ourselves to dinner at Racine, a French-inspired restaurant proudly showcasing the best of local produce on the plate and in the glass, with menu items flagged if they are at least 75% locally sourced. If you have been riding all day, you can justify the 7 course degustation. Back in town and a bit more relaxed, the Hotel Canobolas is a large and busy country hotel offering dishes of local produce from the bistro, and with one of the most impressive cook-your-own-steak bars I’ve ever seen. If you want to try the local wines without the hassle of travelling between wineries, then the Union Bank is for you. Similarly, if you want to sample a range of local and regional produce, pop in to a Slice of Orange to pack a picnic (with 24 hrs notice you can pre-order a hamper online, but you can also just turn up and pick and choose from the shelves) and enjoy in the Botanic Gardens or by the lake.

Of course, if you’re cycling you’ll probably need a caffeine fix, and you’ll be in luck at Bill’s Beans who roast locally and benefit from Orange’s altitude and climate during the roasting process to produce a more flavoursome final brew. Well worth  a visit.

What to do when you’re not riding

It should be pretty clear by now that any spare time you have should be spent wining and dining. But if you really must do something else, get info on what’s happening during your stay from the tourist information centre, as well as guides for Orange heritage trails around town. Enjoy hikes on Mount Canobolas or go for a dip to cool off in nearby Lake Canobolas.

When to go

During Orange Wine Festival in late October would be ideal, but accommodation might be hard to come by. Otherwise any time, with the caveat that Mt Canobolas can get snow in winter, and summer temperatures can soar.

Not convinced? Have a look at what broadsheet, Australian Traveller and traveller.com.au have to say.

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  1. September 29th, 2015

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