Pollie Pedal 2016 Day 6: Orange to Oberon
Our overnight stop was at Orange, the fastest growing city in New South Wales. Home to more than 40,000 people, the birthplace of ‘Banjo’ Paterson is a thriving regional hub.
The extensive vineyards on the surrounding slopes are testament to the popularity of the wines produced in the region.
Established as a convict settlement in 1822, the town was originally known as Blackman’s Swamp, after the guide to the early settlers, James Blackman.
The name Orange, chosen by the explorer, Thomas Mitchell, in 1846, is unrelated to the fruit, although it is a significant horticultural region. Instead, he named it after Prince William of Orange, then King of the Netherlands. In fact, oranges are not grown in the area, as it is too cold for them because of the altitude.
Gold discoveries in the 1850’s led to prosperity. It also resulted in notoriety for the region to the west as the stamping ground of Ben Hall and his gang of bushrangers. Hall was shot dead on the Lachlan Plain, south of Forbes, in 1865.
The large Newcrest gold and copper mines at Cadia to the north continue to drive the prosperity of the region.
The cyclists assembled in Cook Park for breakfast prior to the 127 kilometre ride to Oberon. While I was departing for a couple of days, Christian Porter joined the peloton in the morning. Within a few minutes of the start, they had passed the Sir Jack Brabbam Park on the outskirts of town. Although nearby Bathurst is synonymous with motor racing, it was at Orange in 1960 that the first Australian Touring Car Championship was conducted.
The rolling plains to the south east of Orange were a welcome respite from the relentless climbs into the city yesterday. The peloton soon reached the historic village of Milthorpe before powering onto Blayney. Milthorpe still retains the charm of an English village, with preserved lace-iron verandas on many of the double story brick buildings.
From Blayney, where the riders stopped for a chat with the locals at Ryan’s Bakery, the peloton headed towards Perthville, the next stop just to the south of Bathurst. Another discussion with townsfolk at the Bridge Hotel, and they were back on the road.
Gradually the terrain changed from rolling open plains to the wooded pine plantations and forests that feed the chipboard factory at Oberon.
The last section from O’Connell to Oberon was punishing, with roadworks and steep climbs in heavy rain.
A warm reception from the Mayor and the local rotary club was a welcome reprieve at the end of a long day.
(Thanks for the assistance with today’s blog from fellow participants.)