There’s a lot to be said for exploring a wine region with a bunch of friends – you can share the driving, keep the accommodation costs reasonable and, of course, bring your own party atmosphere to any venue. Orange is the ideal destination for group travel, as it not only offers a great range of places to stay, but also welcoming cellar doors, dining options and places of interest to visit. Just remember, it’s essential to book everything in advance if you’re part of a large group – breakfast, lunch, dinner, winery visits and other organised activities. Here are Swinging Bridge’s top tips for groups of six people or more.

Best beds for buddies

Our number-one tip when travelling as a group is to consider Airbnb your accommodation saviour. It’s often easier to wrangle a crowd in self-contained accommodation, and there are more than 160 options listed around Orange that will sleep from six to 24 guests, either located in the heart of town or beyond the city limits if you’re after a more rural experience.

For something a little different, try the Black Sheep Inn B&B, about 10 minutes’ drive from the centre of Orange. Its main Woolshed property has five ensuite bedrooms, which can be supplemented by another two rooms (also both with ensuites) in the property’s Whispering Moon Cottage. This is a real-deal contemporary country experience, with a roaring fire for wintry nights, air-conditioning for steamy summers and excellent local produce all-year-round for breakfast.

In town, the just-launched Quest Orange has a selection of three-bedroom apartments with full kitchen facilities that are ideal for larger families or groups of friends.

Photo Credit: Black Sheep Inn

Group-friendly restaurants

There are plenty of excellent restaurants in and around Orange that will cater for larger groups, but our advice is, no matter where you’re heading, book well in advance. Here are a few trusted Swinging Bridge favourites.

Mr Lim
The popular, bustling Mr Lim is always high on our list for a good time – and it caters really well for groups. If you’re coming for the weekend, be sure to book well in advance for a Friday or Saturday night: at about 9.30pm, the joint turns into a karaoke hotspot, and gets pretty wild and a lot of fun. The food’s great, too – and there’s nothing like some KFC (Korean fried chicken) to get those vocal cords loosened up for a spot of late-night mic action lead by owner-chef Sammy Lim.

Sweet Sour Salt
After a day on the road sampling the wines of Orange, Sweet Sour Salt is the ideal spot to do some more in-depth ‘wine reviewing’. A terrific menu of Asian dishes sampling Thai, Malaysian, Korean and Chinese flavours is accompanied by an equally terrific wine list featuring many local labels, including Swinging Bridge. For a long and lively Friday lunch or Saturday-night dinner, this restaurant is a popular choice for locals, too, so be sure to book well in advance. If you’re out of luck with a booking, Sweet Sour Salt will home-deliver, so you and your friends can wine and dine in the comfort of your holiday accommodation.

This has got to be one of the most accurately named restaurants around, because Tonic is exactly that – a culinary refresh for your body and soul. It’s about 20 minutes’ drive from Orange’s CBD, but if you’ve not been for a wander around the historic village of Millthorpe, that alone is worth a detour. Tonic has been drawing the crowds and winning awards since 2003 – a remarkable feat for any restaurant – but it’s not surprising, considering the quality of chef-owner Tony Morland’s Mod Oz cooking and the produce he sources from around the region. For a REALLY big crowd, Tonic also caters for functions at Millthorpe’s picturesque picture theatre next door. Note that bookings are only taken by phone, not email.

Check out more of our favourite dining spots right here on our blog.

Photo Credit: Sweet Sour Salt

Cafes for a crowd

Breakfast, lunch and coffee and snacks in between – Orange boasts plenty of options for all-comers (find more coffee and breakfast spots here). All the cafes on our hitlist below welcome larger groups – but it’s safest to contact them in good time to ensure a spot for yours.

The Agrestic Grocer
A great venue for a long lunch with a group of friends, The Agrestic Grocer also offers live music most weekends and some weeknights, too. This rustic store-restaurant is all about local regional produce, wines and beers, so set aside plenty of time before or after your meal to explore the store and take part in its cellar-door tastings.

Byng Street Local Store
The popular Byng Street Local Store is open on weekdays from 7am till 5pm, and from 7am till 3pm at weekends. This is the perfect spot for a group to spread out comfortably in the courtyard or on the wraparound verandah for a relaxed (and always delicious) breakfast, brunch, coffee or lunch.

La Colline vineyard in Nashdale has long been home to one of Orange’s finest and most respected restaurants, Racine, but locals in the know also head to Racine’s bakery in the heart of town for great coffee and freshly baked pies, pastries and organic bread. Load up for a group picnic or take-home breakfast feast (their croissants are the best in town), or stay for coffee and brunch or lunch.

After you and your friends have explored the exhibits at the Orange Regional Museum, be sure to take the weight off at Groundstone, open early for breakfast, through to brunch and lunch. There’s plenty of space to spread out, both inside and out, and it’s licensed, too – so you may well spot a Swinging Bridge label or two on the wine list.

Photo Credit: Byng Street

Activities for all

From cellar-door tours to country walks, groups of any size will be spoiled for choice with ways to fill their time in Orange and the surrounding district. Here are just a few highlights.

  • Book a wine tour with Orange Wine Tours and let them handle everything for you. They have a good range of options to choose from, particularly for larger groups.
  • Pick a designated driver, download a map, then take off on a self-guided winery tour.
  • Visit Heifer Station for an afternoon drink, or get them to organise a private picnic on their beautiful 130-acre property. There’s even a petting zoo for the kids to enjoy.
  • Depending on the season, gather the group for a session of berry picking and a picnic at Huntley Berry Farm – it’s good for families, too.
  • Organise an afternoon of fruit-picking at Hillside Harvest (again, depending on the season). Cherry season is on its way in December, so get in quick for a booking.
  • Held on the second Saturday of the month, Orange Farmers Market is a must-visit. With more than 60 stallholders from around the region, this is the best place to really get to grips with the range and quality of our local produce. And don’t miss a bacon and egg roll at The Long Paddock, while you’re all there.
  • For fantastic views of the area, take a walk to Pinnacle Lookout. It’s well set up for visitors, with handy picnic and barbecue facilities.
  • It’s not only a beautiful spot for a picnic, but Lake Canobolas has a number of great activities available for groups to enjoy, from swimming and canoeing to walking and cycling.

So, there you have it. Grab your friends or extended family and start making plans – Orange really is a great place to stay and play with a group. And don’t forget to book a visit to Swinging Bridge’s welcoming cellar door.






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