The Byng St boutique hotel in Orange’s heritage precinct is a perfect illustration of the city’s rebirth and the place to stay.
Orange is enjoying a renaissance as a ‘must visit’ New South Wales touring destination, and its superb accommodation is playing a major role.
Byng Street Hotel, Destination NSW and Sean McKeever
4 December, 2020
Orange has continued to go about its business with a quiet dignity that has an irresistible appeal
Not everything born of the pandemic this year has been a trial to be endured or a chapter hopefully forgotten. As international travel has been put on hold for now, Australians have been curing their need to get out and about in their own backyard more so than in the recent past and one of the great recipients of the local travel boom has been the country centres.
Overlooked for too long for the most part, Australia’s country and rural town and cities have been ‘rediscovered’ by many and their enduring charm, sights and experiences are once again receiving the attention and patronage they so richly deserve.
Each state has its own unique flavour and offerings, all rich in history and boasting their own brand of hospitality. In central western New South Wales, the pickings are many and varied, but one country centre in particular has struck a chord with travellers with its blend of history, fine food, wine and outstanding accommodation.
Just 250 kilometres to the west of Sydney, Orange is the epitome of an elegant country city, with its grand heritage houses and official buildings, and its wide tree-lined streets. Although a bustling modern city, its country feel is palpable the moment you drive down its main street from which the city of some 40,000 fans out.
Dating back to 1846, it is named after the Prince of Orange (now southern France) and has built an enviable reputation for its cool climate wines and rich farming lands that yield outstanding fresh produce. That it is a spectacularly beautiful country centre hasn’t hurt its appeal over the years either, and while its nearby neighbour, Bathurst, may be larger and better known for the country’s most famous motor race – The Bathurst 1000 – Orange has nonetheless continued to go about its business with a quiet dignity that has an irresistible appeal.
That appeal is manifested in the numerous wineries in the area, equally matched by award-winning restaurants and a plethora of outstanding cafes and shopping experiences. And of course, Orange has built quite the reputation for superb accommodation to match its wine and culinary status, perhaps the best of which is the Byng Street Boutique Hotel, nestled right in the heart of the city’s heritage area.
The brainchild of Thomas and Kristen Nock, the Byng Street Hotel is the perfect metaphor for modern Orange – a beautiful historic homestead on the famous Byng Street, lovingly and cleverly transformed into an intimate and sophisticated hotel, with 22 superbly finished suites, intimate lounge areas and a restaurant. The facia of the original homestead has been retained in keeping with the other beautiful heritage homes along the street. Built circa 1896 by architect, William Lamrock, Yallungah, as the property was called, presented a commanding facade to Byng Street, sitting amongst equally grand and imposing homes that now form part of the city’s heritage walk.
Thomas and Kristen bought the property in 2014 and set out on what would be a major project to restore Yallungah to its original glory and also transform it into a boutique hotel that would give guests visiting the area the perfect, sophisticated base from which to explore Orange and its surrounds. The investment of time, dedication and resources to doing the property justice are obvious in every detail.
The original homestead has been immaculately restored to preserve the heritage feel, yet with the ‘modern wing’ – as the extension is called – creating a clever marriage of old and new, once again, beautifully executed.
Thomas and Kristen bought the property in 2014 and set out on what would be a major project to restore Yallungah to its original glory
Being in the heart of the heritage area serves as another excellent reason to set out on foot and explore the city’s roots
The hotel extension which contains the bulk of the suites and rooms, stretches back into the deep block with its very contemporary interior design and soaring ceilings in the public spaces. Colourful artworks by local artists adorn the walls and the interior design is both slick and at times, quirky, giving the hotel a unique feel that’s hard to pin down, but just works.
There’s no doubting the sophisticated air of the Byng Street Hotel, from the design to the appointment of the suites and the quiet, understated service.
The Yallungah dining room which is located at the front of the property in the ‘heritage wing’ serves an a la carte breakfast which is included with each stay and produced possibly the best scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and dill in existence when Audi Magazine visited. The dining room is also available for guests’ private functions.
Food and of course wine have increasingly become drawcords to Orange and given the location of the Byng Street Hotel you are quite literally right in the heart of the town’s burgeoning restaurant scene. Some, such as The Union Bank and Groundstone Cafe are located on Byng Street itself, while any number of others – like Lolli Redini and Zona – are just a short walk away if you decide to leave the car and take a stroll.
Being in the heart of the heritage area serves as another excellent reason to set out on foot and explore the city’s roots. There is a designated Orange heritage trail you can follow or just wander and admire the beautifully restored homes and the numerous heritage buildings that date back to the town’s earliest days.
Orange is also home to an eclectic mix of shops that offer everything from superbly handcrafted goods to all manner of curios for home and lifestyle – try The Sonic for everything from homewares to clothing, or the wonderful Angus Barrett Saddlery with its superbly crafted leather goods just to name just a few.
There’s no shortage of art galleries, cultural spaces and even spas for those looking to pamper themselves while they visit, and then there are the wineries that dot the stunning countryside around Orange.
From Philip Shaw Wines to Heifer Station, Swinging Bridge Wines and the celebrated Sister’s Rock Restaurant at Borrodell Estate, the most demanding wine connoisseur will find something to their taste. Many, like the aforementioned Borrodell Estate also offer a memorable dining experience, while others will provide a handsome picnic hamper for travellers to enjoy with their wine and the countryside in a less formal manner.
Regardless of your tastes or interests, Orange has something to offer. Whether that tend to the more physical walks or bike rides through the picturesque countryside, to exploring the heritage trails or just kicking back and relaxing. Its old world charm exists alongside contemporary facilities in complete harmony and after spending just a little time in Orange it’s not hard to see why it’s become such a favourite with visitors and, increasingly a magnet for those looking to move away from the big cities altogether.
Definitely set aside a few days on that long overdue road trip to immerse yourself in all that Orange has to offer – you will not be disappointed.
... and then there are the wineries that dot the stunning countryside around Orange
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