Pretty ORANGE, on the Mitchell Highway, is set amid rolling countryside. There's not an orange tree to be seen – the Surveyor General apparently named it after William, Prince of Orange under whom he fought Napoleon – but the hills hereabouts are draped in fruit, principally apples, cherries and grapes. If you want to sample the local produce, turn up for Food Week (Web:www.orangefoodweek.com.au) in April or Wine Week (Web:www.winesoforange.com.au) in October.
Just out of town, take the drive 15km southwest to the 1395-metre summit of Mount Canobolas, with great views all around.
Countrylink has daily train services from Sydney and Dubbo and you can fly here with Regional Express (Tel:13 17 13, Web:www.rex.com.au). The visitor centre, on Byng Street in Civic Square (daily 9am–5pm; Tel:1800 069 466, Web:www.visitorange.com.au), has information on local attractions including fossicking for gold in the Ophir Reserve.
There's a pretty good range of accommodation in and around Orange (though no hostel). The cheapest place is Colour City Caravan Park, 203 Margaret St, 1.5km north of town (Tel:02/6362 7254, email@example.com; camping $14, powered site $17, cabinsPrice: $61-75, cottages Price: $131-160), the best of the local caravan parks with a good range of cabins and cottages sleeping six. Oriana Motor Inn, Woodward St, 1km west of the centre (Tel:02/6362 3066, Web:www.orianamotorinn.com.au; Price: $76-100), offers clean and comfortable motel-style accommodation with air conditioning and fridge in rooms and pool and restaurant on site. ACotehele, 177 Anson St, two blocks south of the centre (Tel:02/6361 2520, Web:www.cotehele.com.au; Price: $131-160), occupies an 1878 magistrate's home with high ceilings.
Orange's eating scene is fairly cosmopolitan. For evening dining, head straight for AUnion Bank, 84 Byng St (closed Sun evening), a classy but not too expensive wine cellar and bar which serves great meze platters ($10). Contemporary Australian cuisine is the name of the game at Selkirks, 179 Anson St (Tel:02/6361 1179; Tues– Sat dinner plus Fri lunch), where a Federation-era house provides the setting for lunch (when it is a bargain) or dinner (2 courses $55, 3 $68) when it is still good value.