This is soul country for me, the picture is a snap of my great-grandmother’s house in the heart of Borenore where she apparently brought up 13 children – good grief. There’s lots to explore in this rural community, just 15 minutes west of Orange – top class vineyards, orchards, restaurants, a cider house and the old convent where my Great GM went to church every Sunday (which is now a gourmet destination restaurant, wedding venue and B&B).
Driving west out of Orange along the Escort Way towards Borenore, you’ll pass the charming Hedberg Hill Wines and the unparalleled Philip Shaw Wines vineyards. This is just the start of the Borenore Trail and you’ll need to pace yourself – but if you stop off at these two places and sample the entire ranges of both you can always take a break at the nearby and contemporary Black Sheep Inn to sleep it off.
If you make it past the vineyards, you can stop in at the Hillside Orchard to pick your own cherries in season or to grab some fresh stone fruit, apples, pears as well as jams, honey and sauces from their public store. Orange Mountain Wines is just a stone’s throw away, and then you’ll come to the Borenore dilemma: a crossroads offering a multiple choice choose-your-own-adventure.
Follow the Borenore Road option and you’ll come to the Borenore Store, a breakfast and brunch restaurant open Wednesdays to Sundays and with one of the greatest selections of local wines. Check out the abandoned 1885 Borenore Village railway station while you’re in the neighbourhood (it’s just across the road) and then follow the signs to Small Acres Cyder, where they’re making some champion Australian apple cider – read the glowing reviews here.
It’s at this point that you need to chuck a u-turn and come back the way you came, otherwise you’re going to hit the start of the Cargo Road wine trail, and that’s another story entirely…
Coming back through Borenore village (blink, you’ll miss it), now venture down the Amaroo Road to discover the Faisan Estate and Printhie vineyards. Printhie has a five-star rating from James Halliday’s Wine Companion, with its cellar door open weekdays from 10am-4pm, and Saturdays from 12-4pm. Faisan is an upcoming local contender, well worth a visit but you’ll need to book ahead for a wine tasting visit. Just join their Dead Pheasant Society and be done with it.
And now heading back into Orange along the Amaroo Road, onto The Escort Way, you’ll see a left turn onto Convent Road. This is where the charm offensive really commences. The winding lane of Convent Road, a dirt track dripping in Eucalyptus, will take you back a couple of centuries and bring you to The Old Convent. This gourmet destination is a bit of a #localsecret, and it’s only open for breakfast + brunch on Sundays. And you need to book in advance. And when you get there it’s all worth it. There’s also stylish overnight accommodation for 2-4 people in the former nun’s cottage, so you may as well stay.
Instead of heading back to Orange after our visit to the convent, we followed the signs to the old gold town of Forbes instead. This took us past the historic Boree Cabonne homestead, past Escort Rock (the scene of Australia’s most dramatic gold rush era robbery), through Eugowra and the heart of bushranger country, and finally to Forbes which must have been a bustling city centre in the late 1800s and is the final resting spot of infamous bushranger Ben Hall.