The Localist

Rediscovering soul country – exploring Borenore


Not many people venture over the Blue Mountains when they visit New South Wales, Australia. But you’re in for a treat if you do. Head to Orange, just a 3.5 hour drive west from Sydney, for an authentic experience of the Australian bush countryside.

One of the biggest towns in the Central West region of New South Wales, Orange is surrounded by gold rush era villages that are both charming to explore and full of hidden wonders. In addition to the slice of Australian history you can immerse yourself in, this region is an up-and-coming gourmet destination full of award-winning vineyards, fresh artisanal produce and incredible restaurants and cafes.

After spending over 15 years roaming the world, I’ve come back to my roots and relocated in the Central West of New South Wales. Sure, Sydney has the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, but this region has an abundance of treasures that I’ll share with you –  so you can experience living like an Australian local.

I recently took a trip to the village of Borenore, which is a 15 minute drive west of Orange, and it was a real experience of soul country for me. I had absolutely no idea before this trip that my family actually traces its Australian roots back to this village, and I discovered that my father’s mother’s ancestors settled here during the gold rush between 1850 and 1870.

Dad took me to perch on the fence of the old weatherboard cottage in which his great-grandmother brought up her 13 children. Slightly on a lean and smack bang in the middle of a sunburnt paddock, this little cottage spoke secrets from across the fields and down the years to me, giving me a sense of place and belonging I don’t think I’ve ever felt before.

Shaking myself out of my reverie, I was charmed to find there’s so much to explore in Borenore. You could easily spend two days around this small rural community, and my top recommendation would be to stay at The Old Convent. Standing in the laneway by the hedges, I could almost see my great-grandmother coming here to church on Sundays, travelling by horse and buggy up the winding Old Convent Road. The road is still a dusty dirt track to this day, dripping with Eucalypts and native birdsong.

The Old Convent is no longer a church, but a locally-famous restaurant and B&B – and a cherished local secret. There’s a two-room cottage for hire, where the nuns used to live, and you can treat yourself to either breakfast or brunch on Sundays at the gourmet restaurant.

From here, set out to explore the nearby vineyards of Philip Shaw Wines, Faisan Estate and Printhie Wines. These are my top picks, but there are quite a few others on the Borenore Vineyard Trail. Just around the corner from The Old Convent there’s also Small Acres Cyder, where you can sample champion Australian apple cider for something different.

To stock up on supplies, drop into The Borenore Store. This is another local secret destination for Saturday and Sunday breakfasts and lunches. The food is amazing, and so is the regional wine and the selection of local produce. Instead of visiting further afield vineyards you can just stop by here. The best thing about this region is that you can taste the wine before you purchase. Really there’s nothing better than being perched at a bar, sampling an entire range (or two) of award-winning local wines and then buying them at cellar door prices. Forget bottleshops and supermarkets, come and live like a local here.





Image. Photo by Kelly-Anne Smith.

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