The Borenore Food and Wine Trail ⋆ Silver Compass Tours
MAIN PHOTO CREDIT: Brand Orange. ADDITIONAL PHOTOS: Silver Compass Tours
Driving along the gumtree-lined country laneways will give you a real feel for regional Australia, both it’s European settler history and rich cultural Indigenous heritage.
While there doesn’t seem to be much there today on first glance, there are some very real hidden food and wine gems tucked away behind in the laneways and bridle tracks of Borenore: with some of Australia’s top winemakers, food producers, orchardists, craft beer brewers, cider makers, restaurateurs and boutique accommodation providers calling it home.
HISTORY OF BORENORE
Australian pioneer, William Charles Wentworth, is recorded as the first European settler of the Borenore area in the 1820s, with the original village being established in the 1860s which soon grew to become a large settlement. The European settlers retained the Wiradjuri name for the area, ‘Bora Nora’, which refers to the nearby initiation ceremony grounds (Bora) and the overhanging rock (Nora) under which the ceremonies were held at the nearby sacred Borenore Caves.
It’s well worth a visit to the Borenore Caves to see the limestone caves, and it’s just a small detour on your way to Borenore. These caves were also the traditional birthing grounds of the Wiradjuri nation, and women from Wiradjuri tribes from many areas would make the pilgrimage here to give birth.
The caves were also a rich source of Borenore Red marble for the region in the early 20th century. In 1898, while enjoying a picnic at the Borenore Caves, Italian migrant stonemason Frank Rusconi discovered a rich vein of marble: considered to be some of the finest in the world.
He quarried the reserve and supplied Borenore Red marble to The Strand Arcade in Sydney and also to Buckingham Palace in London. Another famous example of Borenore Red marble can be found on the mantelpiece of the historic Jenolan Caves House hotel in the Blue Mountains.
THE BORENORE FOOD AND WINE TRAIL
Take The Escort Way out of Orange to follow the Borenore Wine Trail, as you will be positively delighted you did. We’ve highlighted the top 9 discoveries for you to make along the trail. Take it slow and have fun!
First stop along the way is the Hedberg Hill vineyard at 880m elevation and providing a wonderful view of Mount Canobolas. This is a wonderfully scenic vineyard and a great location for photos.
Next stop is the utterly charming Heifer Station vineyard, which was crowned by the Sydney Morning Herald as the 2016 ‘Best Cellar Door Experience’. You will go absolutely Instagram mad here, every corner is snap worthy.
“Heifer Station’s new cellar door in a converted woolshed in Orange not only serves up great wine from its cool-climate vineyard, but has opened a petting farm as well so children can play while mum and dad imbibe. The bucolic winery will also set you up with a picnic among the vines and come back and collect you when you’re done. Wine tasting with children has never been more appealing.”
Now that you’ve sampled some of our cool-climate region wines, stop off at Hillside Harvest to pick up some fresh produce. Most of the produce available comes straight from the farm and orchard, and there are many additional local products to tempt you such as honey, homemade preserves and jams and the delicious Millamolong bush-flavoured cordials.
Leave the car at Hillside Harvest and take a stroll across the lane to the 5-star winery at Orange Mountain Wines. The hand-crafted wines are made using traditional methods such as hand picking, hand plunging and fermentation in small open containers to maximise colour and flavour.
Hopping back in the car just a short drive up the road you will come to the start of Borenore village proper, which was divided into two in the late 1800s when the railway went through. So we’re going to suggest you take a loop tour.
As you approach Borenore Public School on the left, take a right turn at the sign to The Old Convent. You’ll then follow the Old Convent road along to get a real feel for the original pioneering tracks that don’t seem to have changed much in 150 years (they’re still dirt).
Wind down your window if you don’t mind a bit of dust, and you’ll be rewarded with birdsong. This bridle track has a canopy of native trees and you’ll see flashes of vibrant colour as native rosellas and cockatoos flit through the gumtrees. You may even get the chance to see a wedgetail eagle.
Keep your eyes out for Small Acres Cyder, as this craft cider house is more than definitely worth a stop. Producing an award-winning range of pear and apple ciders made from produce straight from their own orchard, Small Acres Cyder draws on traditional European methods for crafting authentic cider.
For a fabulous farm gate experience, continue along The Old Convent lane and call ahead to see if the Borenore Berry Farm is open to visitors that day. If they are, you should definitely call in as the farm gate is renowned amongst local cooks, caterers and chefs as the go-to source for fresh and juicy strawberries and raspberries.
You should also plan your Borenore Food and Wine exploration for a Sunday, as this is the best day to call into the Old Convent cafe to take advantage of the spectacular three-course set menu breakfast and brunch local chef Josie Chapman and her husband Jeff treat guests to.
Serving seasonal and regional produce, reservations are absolutely essential to experience this local favourite dining experience, as it’s only open for breakfast and lunch on Sundays. However you might be inspired to linger a little longer here, as there are two gorgeous historic cottages to choose from, and Josie will supply you with breakfast each day of your stay.
Once you’ve had your fill at the Old Borenore Convent, continue along the Old Convent Road and you’ll amble past the remains of the original village.
There’s not a great deal left, many of the old tin and wood houses have crumbled – however you can find the Old Dairy Cottage which once housed the local butter factory at the cellar door expanse at Philip Shaw Wines. The old cottage was rescued from its lonely Borenore corner, transported to the Shiralee Road and lovingly restored. Go and have a look on your way back into town after your Borenore visit.
Before you head back into town though, there’s just one more Borenore experience not to be missed. You’ll need to loop back and cross the highway near the Borenore Public School and take a right hand turn to drive through the other half of the village. Here’s where the old railway station, hotel and goods store all must have once done a roaring trade, and just nearby is where old Frank used to work his Borenore Red marble.
You’re heading for The Borenore Store my friends, where Marty has housed the Borenore Brewhouse. If craft beer is your thing, give Marty a call and he will be more than happy to show you though his micro brewery and the processes he takes to craft some of the region’s finest beer.
OK you’re done, the Borenore Food and Wine trail – big tick.
Now head back into Orange via the Shiralee Road to drop into Philip Shaw Wines to check out The Butter Factory (transported from Borenore) and their beautiful bluestone cellar door.