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The cherry tree-lined streets of Orange offer the perfect compromise between big city living and rural country town. MiningFM's regular contributor Sarah Long explains why...

Located in central-western New South Wales and within easy reach of Bathurst, Forbes, Parkes, Dubbo, Cowra and the Blue Mountains, Orange is a friendly, vibrant town with a population of more than 38,000.

OrangeKnown as Blackman’s swamp at the beginning of the 1800s, it was renamed Orange in 1846 and has been a mining town since Australia's first payable gold was found nearby at Ophir.

Still a mining town today, the Cadia Valley Operations gold and copper mines are owned and operated by Newcrest Mining and include the Cadia Hill open pit and Ridgeway underground mine. They currently employ about 800 staff and 2300 contractors for these mines, situated 20km south-west of the town itself.

Mining is not the only driving economic force in Orange, though. Thanks to an extinct volcano, the region is blessed with fertile volcanic soils which support major agriculture and horticulture industries. In fact, Orange is known as the 'food basket' of New South Wales.

With its delicious stone fruit and pretty orchards, Orange really is a foodie's heaven – local produce is available in boutique shops, delicatessens and at the farmers' market. 

Orange also boasts a thriving retail industry, with two shopping malls offering the big chain shops from Myer to Big W and everything in between. The two main shopping streets, Anson Street and Summer Street, provide an opportunity to wander and relax with speciality shops, unique boutiques, sidewalk cafes and galleries.

For families moving to town, Orange is big enough to offer a wide choice of secondary and primary schools including public, grammar and Catholic schools. For those with younger children, Orange City Council has a Supported Playgroups program and there are several pre-schools in the town. For adults keen to learn, Orange offers higher education in the form of the TAFE NSW Western Institute, Charles Sturt University and Central West Community College.

When it comes to relaxation, Orange offers plenty of reasons to get out of the house and have fun with the kids, not least at Mount Canobolas and Lake Canobolas, where locals get into hiking, picnics, fishing and water-sports. There also also more than 50 vineyards in the surrounding area, with over 20 cellar doors open to the public. And for evening entertainment, there are several pubs, restaurants and wine bars in the centre of town.

Be warned: the same climate that supports such rich food production can also bring a big chill in the winter months (there's even the chance of a snow flurry or two!) But if all the cold and countryside get too much, Sydney is only 280km away and direct trains and buses are available.

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We moved from Newcastle to Orange three years ago for a country change. We have found Orange to be very friendly, full of activities for the children: soccer, cricket, netball and swimming in the new indoor aquatic centre. The education they are receiving in the Catholic system is far above what they received in Newcastle. Work is plentiful. The children have made friends and do activities that normally they wouldn’t have had a chance to do, such as rounding up sheep and helping with the shearing. The air is crisp and clean and the seasons are mild. Orange is close to the outskirts of Sydney, taking 2.5 hours to get to Penrith, 2.5 hours to Mudgee and four hours to Newcastle. Orange: full of life.'

- Douglas, Orange

I have found living in Orange a fantastic lifestyle and career experience. I was born and bred in Broken Hill and lived in Kalgoorlie for 12 years, both 'real mining towns'.  Orange has a fantastic mine and long mining future although it’s not a mining town, so its good for a change. I am fortunate enough to have five acres on the side of town with a heap of animals and room for the kids to ride mini bikes and kick the ball about. Orange has many excellent schooling options, first-class medical facilities and every sporting activity you could ask for.  My daughter is enjoying a first-class dance school and music conservatorium while my two boys, play AFL, NRL, cricket and touch footy. There are always community activities on, be it in Orange, Bathurst or one of the nearby villages.  Sydney for music, footy or the beach is only 3.5 hours away.  Although if like good quality food and wine, Orange has plenty of both. Orange is a large country town that’s not remote with loads of great attractions for the family with a huge long life mine.  If you are in mining what else could you ask for?

- Stu, Orange

Orange has plenty of shops including the big chain shops such as Myer and Big W. There are also some nice boutique shops, particularly for food and there is a farmer’s market once a month. The countryside around the town is really pretty as is the town itself in spring when all of the cherry trees are in blossom along the streets. Mount Canobolas, Lake Canobolas and the vineyards offer lots of reasons to get out of the town and explore on days off. There’s also a choice of pubs and wine bars for a good night out and time to socialise, but if you ever do feel the need to escape back to the big city there are also direct trains and buses to Sydney.

- Sarah, Sydney

Ever lived in Orange? Tell the world.