... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Seeing the country from a bicycle beats the car any day
For me, cycling through shining maples in the country under a fair blue sky trumps driving through traffic with hundreds of commuters headed to the usual places.
So, where can you go cycling in the country, you ask.
With sedentary lifestyles being blamed for weight and health issues, The Husband and I decided to combine exercise, autumn leaf perving and country scenery on a weekend away. And, with our love of hunting out less usual touristy things to do, we came up with the freaky idea of Cycling In Orange.
With its quiet, broad country streets, vistas of rural scenes, civilised drivers, and dedicated cycling paths and routes, Orange is perfect for cyclists of all stages (and ages). There's also wineries, cafes and picnic stops to be had along the way.
After parking the car in town (gotta love the fact there's no parking fees here!) we hired some bikes from DG Cycles and cycled through the tree-lined streets and local parks in their autumn glory. As an inexperienced cyclist and unfit writer, I enjoyed the bike paths and flat terrain, as well as the occasional challenge of a small rise.
Along the two and a half hour cycle, we passed through suburban streets, the Elephant Park, alongside creeks and red trees, paths strewn with autumn leaves, past heritage buildings and through country roads, bushy reserves and swamplands. A highlight was sighting a family of ten or more kangaroos.
Sighting of kangaroos along the way made me smile. Hello Skippy.
The local council is actively promoting cycling as a thing to do in and around Orange with dedicated cycling paths, and a booklet outlining all the top bicycle trails in the region. This includes something for every level of rider, from children to the professional cyclist, and short and long rides.
Grab the Ride Orange Guide booklet - if you have a smartphone you can scan the code for the route of your choice and use the Strava App to help you.
For everything you need to know about cycling in Orange, and my ten hot tips for an awesome time, read on below.
TOP TIPS FOR A TOP TIME
1. Orange is a regional country town, not Sydney. So, before you come, if you're intending to hire bikes, do your research and check the bike hire shop is open and has something available the day of your visit. We arrived Sunday in Orange all fired up and discovered many businesses were closed. We were unable to hire anything that day.
2. Another option to hiring is to bring your own bikes and save money. This means you can also start your cycle wherever you like as you'll be able to drive your bikes to the spot of choice. If you're hiring from a shop and unable to fit bikes in your vehicle, you'll need to start your cycle from the bike shop, which will involve cycling through main streets and possibly highways to get out of town.
3. Bring water. Also, pack a yummy picnic in your backpack and stop off at one of the lovely parks in Orange - such as Cook Park, the Botanical Gardens, Elephant Park or Moulder Park. Another top site for a picnic is Lake Canobolas (however it's a further ride out of town).
4. But, also avoid too much in the backpack or your shoulders and back might regret it! Or distribute the weight between two or more of you. I really felt like I needed a chiropractor after lugging my camera and other stuff around.
5. Pick up the Ride Orange Guide from the Orange Visitor's Centre. This booklet contains comprehensive information on in and out of town and mountain bike trails. Alternatively, go to the Ride Orange site.
6. Stay safe when cycling around traffic. Wear your helmet, avoid parked cars that might be reversing and take care when negotiating roundabouts.
7. If you're able, include a winery and cafe stop in your ride.
8. It's easy to underestimate how long your ride might take, so don't take on too much and find yourself short of time to get back. Build in time to get lost, for hubby to read maps (and get you lost) take photos (yeah, that was me this time), rest (me again) and so on. I made the mistake of underestimating the time I'd take and had to kill myself to ride back to the bike shop in time. Not good.
9. Check the weather in advance of booking anything.
10. Stay overnight in Orange. It's a helluva lovely place!
Stop for a drink at Bissy's Cafe or hire a bike from them.
We hired ours here at a cost of $40 each for a whole day plus $5 each for a helmet (required). This included a free backpack. You can also put your water container on your bike.
Unit 2, 241 Lords Place Orange
Hours: Monday to Friday
Phone: 02 6360 4040
Adults, children's, tandem bikes and tricylcles
88 Warrendine Street Orange
Phone: 02 6369 0666
Ron Boulton Cycles
202 Lords Place Orange
Phone: 02 6362 3670
Hours: Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm
Cycling through the kid-friendly Elephant Park. Good for beginners.
I'd recommend the 4.4 kilometre Moulder Park Loop. It starts at Elephant Park and travels through Pilcher and Moulder Park along the creek. At Anson street continue through the park. Kids can enjoy the play equipment along the way.
TOP TRAILS FOR ADULTS
Obviously what you'll enjoy depends on your fitness level. I enjoyed the Black Sallee Loop - nine kilometres along a mix of flat off-road bitumen and gravel and shared cycling/walking paths through the streets of Orange, parks and reserves including Elephant Park, and farmland.
On future rides, I hope to enjoy the Lake Canobolas trail around the lake and do part of the Tallwood Loop (a 59 kilometre ride popular with locals for its scenic countryside).
Hardcore cyclists will enjoy The Pinnacle Loop (the name of it speaks for itself!) up Mount Canobolas. Or try the 50 kilometre Millthorpe Coffee Ride.
Orange is about 3.5 hours drive from Sydney (2 hours from Katoomba). You can also catch the train there.
BEST TIME TO GO
My favourite time is autumn when there's less rain, milder weather and gorgeous autumn colours to enjoy. Spring is another beautiful season, but it's possible to go anytime you're up for it.
For more things to do in OJ while you're there, check out the Orange360 site. If you ever make it, have a great time and hope you see the kangas.
The Husband at the Begonia display in Cook Park - one of many things to do in Orange that week.