Australia is foodie paradise. You’ve got wine in Western Australia and the Barossa, more dining options than you can throw a plate at in Sydney, and cold brew paradise in Melbourne.
But there’s one blooming foodie destination in NSW often slips under the radar: Orange. In the past Orange has suffered from the perception that it’s a long way to drive for ‘essentially the same kind of restaurants you’d get in the Blue Mountains’ (admit it: you’ve thought it).
But over the last few years, it has become a foodie hotspot and now has over 80 vineyards (and more than cellar doors than you can throw a glass of vino at). Some of these are just a short walk away from each other, so you can door hop your way through the region, as Eat Drink Play puts it, “tasting wine and meeting the lovely, inviting locals welcoming you with a vino in hand.”
View this post on Instagram
There’s also a nice cafe and restaurant scene.
Interestingly, then, for Sydneysiders looking for a quick escape (especially with the international travel ban still in place), Qantas has announced the launch of an “in demand” service to Orange, just in time for the July school holidays.
This will be the carrier’s first ever route from Sydney to Orange, and the first Q200 aircraft (Qantas’ designated aircraft for this route) will take off on the 20th of July. Flights take 50 minutes, which is a nice improvement to the usual four hour drive (or pricey REX flight).
The service was meant to launch earlier in the year, but was delayed due to The Pandemic.
The launch is also part of a wider strategy to ramp up Qantas and Jetstar’s domestic networks, which the airline hopes to increase to 40 per cent of pre-coronavirus capacity levels (it’s still quite low right now) in July.
The new route will also break regional carrier Rex’s “monopoly” (nine.com.au) on the route, which it has enjoyed for years.
How far it will bring prices down remains to be seen (Qantas is currently offering round trips in the $360 vicinity while Rex is offering the same for $412), but remarks from QantasLink CEO John Gissing suggest The Red Kangaroo is not going to shy away from a contest.
Gissing said the launch would bring much-needed competition, as well as connecting those with itchy feet (and curious tongues) to the town’s food and wine.
View this post on Instagram
“After years of locals calling for the flying kangaroo to fly to Orange, the iconic red tail will touch down there for the first time in a few weeks,” he said.
“These flights to Orange will make it easier for Sydney residents to discover one of NSW’s most beautiful regions and its world-class restaurants and wineries.”
“While our business has been challenged like never before by COVID-19, the launch of these flights is another step towards a recovery and getting more of our people back flying again,” he added.
As nine.com.au reports, “The airline will operate three weekly return flights between Sydney and Orange on its Q200 aircraft from July 20, with plans to increase the frequency later in the year.”