revving up for a regional PopArt renaissance

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There’s nothing like relocating to the countryside and having art happenings find you. The warehouse launch of Orange’s new PopArt Collective blew our minds, and simultaneously reassured us our migration from Abu Dhabi to the vineyards was one of the smartest moves we’ve made.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a building facade uplighted in Orange before, so even before we stepped into the warehouse we were amazed. And let’s backtrack here – warehouse party in Orange? hell yeah! Stepping into Sam’s Automotive (an old flour mill repurposed as a pop-up art gallery/ wine bar/ live performance space for the weekend) was like stepping straight into any of the art events I’ve been to in Surry Hills, Dublin or Abu Dhabi – but with local artists, local art, local wine (this is a huge bonus, believe me), local food and zero pretension. The crowd was awesome.

Milling around at the entrance, enveloped by the DJ soundscape and the warehouse vibe feast for the senses, we were given a card to hang on a wishing tree for the opportunity to win a piece of fresh PopArt at the end of the evening. Oh the joy: I’m quite partial to the wishing tree concept after spending a few days wandering around Kyoto temples once upon a time.

Then it was straight to the bar. Run by the superb crew of the Union Bank Wine Bar, this was an event bar like no other – serving up some of the best the region has to offer with Printhie wines & sparkling (I’m already a fan) and handcrafted pale ale from Badlands Brewery.

Invigorating art from the ten current artists of the PopArt Collective lit up the warehouse walls and caverns, our favourite part of all this was how workbenches and tools had just been pushed against walls and absorbed into the installation. I kind of lingered at the corner where Amy Hick’s exquisite Porcelain wall pieces were on display, if I described them as amazingly delicate white porcelain doilies formed as eccentric coral I’d have to admit I have no idea what I’m talking about. On the night, I drank a glass of Printhie Swift Cuvée while looking at them and then went and bought one.

The pure highlight of the evening was a live performance by a cellist and violinist from The Noise. Could I describe it as classical slash reverb jazz spontaneous improvisation? Really not quite sure what it was, apart from totally heavenly. I was on my third glass of sparkling by this stage, so once the performance finished I went and bought the CD. You should too.

This party ended like all good warehouse parties should, with everyone smoking and drinking on the footpath outside. I was with new-to-town artist Curtis Peasley who waxed lyrical for several minutes about the local renaissance (thank you Badlands, I think), and we both agreed it was kind of fortunate to have returned to the region in time to catch the first wave.

The PopArt Collective is aiming to hold local pop-up gallery regional events at least twice a year, they’ll surprise us with the art and the venues each time. Where to next we wonder? Sky’s the limit. Keep a track of them on their Facebook page or follow them on twitter.

Kelly

 

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The Rocking Horse Lounge: it’s love

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We’d driven past this charmingly converted cornerstore a few times, and gazed into the windows to the inviting white tablecloth-draped tables, wooden floors and art nouveau stained glass centre counter. Around the corner, this place also has the best preserved ‘Billy Tea’ painted ad splashed across its walls I’ve so far seen in the region, so it’s had me intrigued from the get-go.

So I decided it was finally time to rock up to The Rocking Horse Lounge with The Italian to celebrate our anniversary, and as part of my official ‘research’ into how to #livelikealocal.

While #OrangeNSW is justifiably proud of its Chef Hat restaurants – Racine, Lolli Redini and Tonic – there are some real local gems hidden away that you only have to search a little bit to find. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you The Rocking Horse Lounge.

I’m not quite sure what I loved the most, it’s all kind of Parisian dark wood art nouveau/1910s with tables in nooks & crannies in there.  We were given the best seats in the house in the old store window, which meant we could gaze out watching the sunset drop dramatically while sipping the house sparkling Printhie Swift Cuvee from local vineyard Printhie Wines (“forget the French stuff, drink this” says The Italian).

The menu is $50 for two courses or $60 for three. We had pork belly with figs and sauerkraut, finished with a creme caramel and the best shortbread either of us has ever eaten in our lives, and polished the evening off with a Printhie Reisling. Fairly safe to say, it was an evening of being in love at, and with, The Rocking Horse Lounge.

Rocking Horse rocks! Don’t just take my word for it, read the glowing reviews on TripAdvisor and Australian Good Food & Travel Guide 

Enjoy! Kelly

Find The Rocking Horse Lounge 211 Byng Street, Orange. For bookings call 02 6369 1483. It’s Casual Dining and they’re open for lunch Tues-Fri and dinner Tues-Sat. 

revel in the altitude: a visit to Printhie Wines

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Not to cut too fine a point on it, this is a destination vineyard. And most definitely one of #OrangeNSW’s top five. Printhie Wines serves up spectacular wine with spectacular scenery at its cellar door, and it’s worth the adventure to get there.

In fact, the journey is part of the destination, and driving up Yuranigh Road towards the vineyard you’ll pass a fascinating slice of Australian Indigenous history. Just past the Alpaca farm (yes, Alpacas. yes yes Alpacas), on the left you’ll see a sign to Yuranigh’s grave. It’s a 700m drive through a cow paddock (please shut the gate behind you) which will take you to the burial site of the Wiradjuri tracker Yuranigh, who guided Major Thomas Mitchell‘s exploration of the Central West of New South Wales in 1845.

After you’ve taken snaps of the Alpacas and visited the heritage site, continue along the dirt road to the impressive Printhie vineyard – which has existed as a farming property for well over 100 years. In 1978, the Swift family became the third owners of the property and turned to viticulture in the mid-1990’s. And what an impressive turn it’s been, heralding a new era as a premium Australian wine producer with a five red star rating from James Halliday’s Wine Companion.

We have three sparkling words to share with you all – Swift 2010 Vintage – you can read the reviews here. The Italian was very much “why would you bother with big name global brands” when you can take a scenic drive out to a vineyard like this and get something of this quality over the counter. And probably ask for a taster while you’re at it (you know, just to double-check that your memory sustains you..).

I could go into more detail on the marvellous Cabernet Shiraz we fell in love with, and we didn’t even get to the whites as it was a rainy Autumn day just begging for awesome reds to be drunk in its honour. But it’s way better if you just go there and taste for yourself. We took two newbies to town who had never been to a vineyard or a wine tasting before, and they were blown away. It’s always a good idea to start from the top, I say.

Enjoy! Kelly

How to find the vineyard cellar door: Head out of Orange on the Molong Road. Stop for a coffee / food / fresh produce break at The Agrestic Grocer. We had a Wild Mudgee Rabbit + Trunkey Creak bacon pie before we headed out for the vineyard adventure. Continue towards Molong until you reach a sign to the Yuranigh Gravesite and turn left. Printhie Wines is along the Yuranigh Road (it’s a dirt track) and once you’ve passed the gravesite you’ll need to drive along a little while until you reach it. But you can’t miss it once you find it. It’s big, beautiful, and on the left. And after your cellar door visit, you can always continue onto Molong and check out Jayes Gallery for an art injection.

Can’t help myself, here’s the Alpacas:

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treechange #OrangeNSW

Here’s the promised Part II of Sydney: we came, we renovated, we left, where I outlined in detail the almost impossibility of returning to Australia’s ‘global business city’ and finding employment.

The Italian was pretty shocked. His entire life he’d dreamt of moving to Australia as the promised land. “It’s more expensive than Italy,” he muttered after the first week, but at least he agreed the coffee was on par (if not better) than Rome. And here’s news for you Sydney – behind the glitter of the harbour and the sails of the Opera House, you’re actually quite a grubby little city. And not particularly liveable.

So after six months of futile job searching while simultaneously renovating a decrepit Surry Hills terrace house, we actually sighed with relief when we finished the reno, paid back a karmic debt, and realised that it was just not possible to stay and survive in the city.

Three months later into our treechange and we couldn’t be happier. Life is nicer this side of the Blue Mountains. The people are nicer. Who knew there was a massive cafe coffee culture brewing here?! It’s like Surry Hills got transported to idyllic countryside and everyone had personality reboots.

Let’s be straight up about it, there’s also heaps more to do here in the Central West region of NSW. It’s pioneering country, it’s full of gorgeous goldrush-era villages all waiting to be rediscovered. Explore BorenoreByngMillthorpe and Carcoar just for starters.

And then there are the vineyards… There are over 40 of them just in the Orange district alone – and the future of Australia’s wine industry could well be Orange. There is no other more civilised way to purchase wine than visit the cellar doors, try before you buy, get gloriously tipsy + have a good yarn with the owners – you can totally forget boring city bottleshops. Visits to Mudgee and Cowra are next on our explore list, this’ll add at least another 40 or so vineyards to the tally.

wondering to myself offline here whether it would be physically possible to visit all the vineyards in a year’s worth of weekends…might set a personal challenge

With spectacular gourmet options like three Good Food Chef Hat restaurants (Racine, Lolli Redini and Tonic) and a 2 Schooner Status pub added to the regional mix, life could hardly get better until you realise there are lots of #localsecret dining options like this and this and this. Actually, there’s heaps more than this…I can feel Part III coming up…

Festivals, there are lots of festivals. Here’s a list I prepared earlier. Eat, drink and be merry.

And while all this has been going on, Orange has just been ranked as Australia’s number one regional location. Yep, we already know thanks, but we’re happy to share. The median price of a 3 bedroom house in Orange is $333,500. What’s more, there are incentives being offered to move here. If you’re looking to escape from the Big Smoke, check out the Evocities website which outlines grants for renters & buyers relocating as well as new grants for people leaving the city to set up their own business here. Seriously, this place is heaven.

Kelly

 

all hail Autumn + the village pub

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The fantastic thing about the arrival of Autumn and the rain and the chilly evenings, is the village pub. As soon as the rain hit we hit the road the Millthorpe to Gerry’s Commercial Hotel to warm up by the fire.

You can’t really ask more from a village pub than a roaring fire and a publican with a broad Irish accent, but the Commercial goes even better than this and offers up award-winning pub food, a stellar wine list (being just next door to the Angullong cellar door), Guinness on tap and craft beer – and Jamesons.

Gerry and his wife have scored the 2014 ‘Best Lamb Burger’ and 2013 ‘Best Steak’ awards from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Pub Food Guide, and the pub has achieved ‘2 Schooner Status’ in 2013 and 2014.

Totally opposed to pokies, televisions and TAB punting, this is a pub for good conversation and conviviality. If you get over-excited by it all you can even stay the night.

Enjoy! Kelly