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Orange, NSW

Elegant and prosperous inland city and major rural service centre.

There are a number of elegant inland towns in New South Wales (Albury, Bathurst, Armidale, Wagga Wagga) and Orange is arguably the most elegant of them all. Characterised by beautiful tree-lined streets, charming houses dating to the early twentieth century, and outstanding public parks it is a substantial and sophisticated rural service centre which lies at the heart of some of New South Wales' richest and most bountiful agricultural land. The city is known for its excellent local produce, its impressive vineyards and its fine dining restaurants. It is also known for its impressive autumn colours and its bitterly cold winters. It regularly gets snow in winter and is known as the country's snowiest city.


Orange is located 254 km west of Sydney via the Great Western Highway. It is 863 m above sea level.


Origin of Name

In 1823 Lieutenant Percy Simpson passed through the district on his way to Wellington. He was accompanied by Chief Constable John Blackman who gave his name to Blackman's Swamp. This became the name of the first settlement.  By the late 1820s the name 'Orange' had began to appear on official documents as a replacement for Blackman's Swamp. The name change was a result of Major Thomas Mitchell who renamed the town after the Prince of Orange. Mitchell had been involved with the Prince in the Peninsular War in Spain.


Things to See and Do

Orange Heritage Trail
There is a free brochure, Orange Heritage Trail, available from the Orange Visitor Information Centre (and downloadable at http://www.orange.nsw.gov.au/client_images/880061.pdf)  which lists 46 places of interest. It is an extended walk which takes approximately 90 minutes to complete, starts at the Visitor Centre and covers ten blocks of the centre of the city. The walk is up Byng Street, across to Cooks Park and down Kite Street. The highlights include:

1. Carrington Club Hotel
Located on the corner Byng Street and Lords Place, the Carrington Club Hotel  began life as a general store in the mid 1850’s and is believed to have been the first brick building in the town. It became a hotel in the 1870s and eventually became the Carrington Club in 1886. Court sittings were held in the hotel’s dining room while the Court House over the road was being built.

2. Orange Court House
The Court House reputedly stands on a site which was originally used for corroborees by the local Aborigines. Between 1849-51 a simple slab and bark hut was constructed on the site and used both as a watch house and a courtroom. A sandstone building was completed on the site in 1860-62 and it was in this building that the bushranger Ben Hall was first tried for his alleged involvement in an armed robbery near Forbes on 14 April, 1862. After spending six weeks in custody Hall was tried and acquitted by a jury. That building was pulled down in 1882 when the present Neo-Classical building, designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet, was built. It was completed in 1883 and a new wing was added in 2001.

7. Town Hall
Located on the corner of Byng Street and Anson Street, this stuccoed Italianate Town Hall was designed by Sydney architect J.J. Clarke and completed in 1888. It was built by Arthur and Oliver at a cost of £3,800 and has housed the Orange Council for almost a century.

8. Holy Trinity Church of England
Located on the corner of Anson and Byng Streets, this fine example of High Victorian Gothic Revival was designed by Thomas Rowe in 1879 with the steeple being completed in 1924. 

14. Union Bank Building
Located on the corner of Byng and Sale Streets, Orange’s first bank, The Union Bank, is a two-storey building and was constructed on land bought in October 1857. It opened in 1858. In 1862 the premises were taken over by the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. The building was also used as a police station for a time and the stables still stand in the yard.

15-18. Historic Houses in Byng Street
There are a number of historic houses in Byng Street running from 82 to 60. At 82 is Brownholme, a handsome Federation-era residence built by Ernie Maguire, the local draper; at 70 is James Dalton's first home - the house he lived in before building Duntryleague in 1876; at 68 is Wendouree, a bungalow built by the merchant, Samuel George West; at 66 Byng Street is Emily which was built in Federation style by Jack Dalton in 1900; and at 60 is a large two-storey residence, Galbally, built in 1918 by Edward Dalton.

19. St Josephs Church
Located on the corner of Byng and Hill Streets, St Joseph's was designed by Edward Gell in High Victorian style in 1869-1870. The nave was completed in 1870 and the transepts were added in 1897. The roof was built of slate and there are unusual gabled ventilators on the ridge of the nave.

20. Gladstone Hotel
Located on the corner of Byng and Hill Streets, opposite St Joseph's, the Gladstone Hotel was opened in 1865 as the Globe Hotel. It changed its name to The Globe in 1874. It is a reminder of a time when hotels were modest, single storey buildings.

22-24. Houses on Summer Street
Opposite Cook Park there are three notable and interesting houses: Berrilea Cottage at 29 Summer Street was built in 1902 and is characterised by wooden verandas, impressive lacework and a large garden; Bruff at 31 Summer Street was lived in by Mary Cecilia Dalton (another member of the Dalton family); and Blair Athol at 43 Summer Street is a Victorian-style home built by local builder, James Douglas.

25. Cook Park
The outstanding park in Orange is Cook Park (located on Summer Street and covering 4.5 ha) which has a range of interesting features including a Caretakers Cottage built in 1887; an interpretation room with photos and historic information; cedars which are over 130 years old; the James Dalton fountain, a band rotunda, an aviary, a begonia conservatory, a duck pond, a German field gun and 24 pound cannon, and numerous walkways. It is best in spring and autumn but it offers an ideal location for a picnic at any time of the year. The park is famed for its 130-year-old Deodar Cedars (the first trees were planted in 1880), the interesting James Dalton Memorial Fountain (remodelled in the 1920s) and the octagonal Bandstand which was completed in 1907 and which still has the original gas fittings and music stands, and its impressive ornamental gates. The Orange Visitor Information Centre  has produced an excellent Cook Park Discovery Walk brochure which describes all the main features in the park. It can be downloaded at http://www.orange.nsw.gov.au/client_images/1286039.pdf.

26 - 30, 32 and 34. Kite Street Houses
There are a number of impressive houses at 37 Kite Street - which is the street on the far side of Cook Park.  At 37 Kite Street is a handsome Victorian cottage with a distinctive cast iron veranda and decorative brickwork on the chimney - it was built in 1878; at 39 Kite Street is The Channings built in 1912; Mena is at 50 Kite Street and was built in 1875 for Thomas Dalton - this gracious home still has its lead windows, cedar archways and mouldings; at 56 Kite Street is Pauline (named after J.M.Paul who had it built in 1887), which is notable for its mixture of Federation and Edwardian architecture; Newstead, now the Newstead Bowling Club, is a Victorian-era house built in 1890 and notable for the huge Indian Cedar tree outside; Hawthornden at the corner of Kite and Sale Streets was built in 1905 and Braemar is at 75 Kite Street

33. Orange Public School
The remarkable Orange Public School, on the corner of Kite and Sale Streets, looks more like a church than a school with its high pointed large-paned sash windows, steeply pitched roof and spire. It was designed by G.A. Mansfield and opened in 1880 with the foundation stone being laid by Sir Henry Parkes, the NSW Premier and the Founding Father of Australian Federation.

41. Orange Post Office
Designed by J. Barnet and completed in 1879 this is a typical two-storey Classical design with an arcaded facade which has been filled in over the years. It has an interested balustraded parapet. It is a handsome addition to the city's main street having a Victorian Italianate graciousness.

45. Robertson Park
These are attractive gardens opposite the Visitor Information Centre in Byng Street. There were extensive plantings of exotic and native trees when the park which came into existence in 1882. It is located on the original site of Blackmans Swamp. The Whitney Fountain was placed in the park in 1895; the bandstand was completed in 1913; and the Boer War Memorial was unveiled in 1905.

Other Buildings and Places of Interest
By any measure this is an extraordinary building. It was built in 1876 for the hugely successful local businessman, James Dalton. To inspect the building the visitor drives up the long gravel driveway, edged by huge deciduous trees, and arrives at a mansion with 4-metre-high ceilings, stained glass windows in the central stairway and 3-metre-high cedar doors. Dalton was a model, late nineteenth-century Irish Catholic émigré. He had twelve children, named his mansion after his birthplace in County Limerick, and was presented with huge glass windows (they are perfectly preserved in the stairwell) after his investiture as a Papal Knight. He died in 1919 and sixteen years later Duntryleague became the Duntryleague Golf Course. It is entirely appropriate that Dalton was the first patron of the Orange Golf Club. For more information check out http://www.duntryleague.com.au/ or tel: (02) 6362 3466.

Orange Regional Gallery
Located at 149 Byng Street the Orange Regional Gallery is recognised as one of the best rural art galleries in Australia. It regularly hosts touring art exhibitions and has a fine collection of works including Ian Fairweather, Sidney Nolan, Justin O'Brien, Brett Whiteley and John Olsen. It is open from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm daily. Check out https://org.nsw.gov.au for details of current and future exhibitions. Tel: (02) 6393 8136.

Bowen Terrace
Stretching from 3-25 Bathurst Road (and immediately obvious to visitors arriving from Sydney), Bowen Terrace is an outstanding example of a two-storey terrace building. It was built in 1876 and renovated in 1972, has a total of twelve terrace houses, and is characterised by cast-iron balconies and columns. Designed by John Hale it is a rare example of a row of terraces in a rural town. It was built for Maurice Bebb Bowen, the owner of Orange's first tannery. For most of its life it was used as rental accommodation.

Orange Botanic Gardens
Located north of Orange at 1 Yellow Box Way, the Orange Botanic Gardens were created as a Bicentennial Project. The aim was to create a garden based "on a theme that relates to both past and current regional vegetation as well as those plants that enjoy cold winters and hot summers". The Gardens cover 17 hectares and are divided into Exotic Trees and Shrubs, Australian Native Plants and Clover Hill Display Gardens. The features include the 'Homestead Gardens', the 'Apple Orchard', twenty varieties of magnolia, sundials, the 'Sensory Gardens', the 'Biblical Gardens', the 'Heritage Rose Garden and Church' and a "Eucalyptus Lawn'. There is a brochure available at the Visitor Information Centre. it can be downloaded at http://www.orange.nsw.gov.au/client_images/1822662.pdf. A self-guided walk through the gardens is about 1.5 km and can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as you want to linger in those areas that capture your senses.

Emmaville Cottage
Now located in the Botanic Gardens on Yellow Box Way and open from 9.00 am - 4.00 pm, Emmaville Cottage is a four room cottage constructed from redwood, imported from North America in the 1850s, and possibly pre-fabricated. It was moved and installed in the Botanic Gardens in 2013 and some people argue that it was where 'Banjo' Paterson was born. It is unlikely to be his birth place as the 1947 location outside town on the Ophir Road is seen as the most likely. When the discussion about Paterson's birth place was raised the Rotary Club, which restored the historic cottage, insisted that they had no definite evidence but that the cottage had been located on Narrambla (where Paterson had been born) and, therefore, had some connection with Paterson's birth.

Federation Arch
Located in the Botanic Gardens is the Federation Arch, sculptured by Bert Flugelman and unveiled in 2001. Flugelman is most famous for his "Shish Kebab" which once stood in Martin Place in Sydney. The arch was commissioned by the Orange Regional Arts Foundation and they explain that "The connection to the present is importantly expressed in the form of this stainless steel sculpture. The seemingly simple but yet quite complex geometric configuration with its clean and decisive lines is more in line with our technologically advanced society. It symbolises passing through from one century to the next and reaffirms that Australians one hundred years ago built arches to celebrate the Federation of the Nation. The sculpture spans the pathway adjacent to the main billabong. The path is white leading to the arch and changing to pink on the other side. The highly polished mirror finish reflects the surrounding landscape and symbolises the passage of an individual through time."

Other Brochures
The Orange Visitor Centre has a wide range of brochures designed for visitors who want to explore specific aspects of the town and the surrounding district. Those of particular interest include:
Historic Pub Tour of Orange: a brochure listing 12 pubs around town.
East Orange Heritage Trail: a leisurely walk around East Orange covering a total of 16 sites many of which are memories rather than actual buildings.
Orange General Cemetery: a walk through the local historic cemetery which points out specific graves of historic interest.
Robertson Park Heritage Walk: records the history of the park and writes in detail about 8 monuments and pieces of interest in the park - notably the Whitney Fountain which celebrates William Franklin Whitney, a director of Cobb & Co. It was presented to the Borough of Orange by the Cobb & Co employees.
Walking & Cycling Orange: the brochure contains a huge, detailed map of the city with five pedestrian and cycleways around the city. As well there are maps of Lake Canobolas Walking and Cycle Track and Gosling Creek Reserve and Bloomfield Park.

Heritage Drives of Orange & District: outlines four drives around Orange - 
Drive 1 - March - takes around an hour and goes out to the village of March
Drive 2 - Drive to Ophir, Byng, Shadforth and Lucknow. Takes around 90 minutes
Drive 3 - Drive to Lake Canobolas, Mount Canobolas, Borenore Cavesand Yuranigh's Grave. Takes around 90 minutes
Drive 4 - Drive to Gosling Creek, Millthorpe and Spring Hill. Takes around an hour.


Other Attractions in the Area

Lake Canobolas
Located 12 km west of the city centre is Lake Canobolas, a pleasant artificial lake with poplars and deciduous trees growing on its shores and excellent picnic and barbecue facilities . It is said that 'canobolas'  comes from 'coonoo baloo' a local Aboriginal expression meaning 'twin shoulders' or 'twin heads'. The lake is fed by the Molong Creek and, although it can be cold, it is suitable for swimming, canoeing and sailing. The lake is known for its rich birdlife. It was originally built in 1918 to provide the town with its water supply. There is a walking trail around the lake (a map is available at the Visitor Information Centre) and this trail is also suitable for cycling.

Mount Canobolas State Conservation Area
Another 6 km further on is the summit of Mount Canobolas, an extinct volcano which rises to 1,395 metres and offers 360° views from its summit. It is claimed that on a clear day visitors can see for over 100 kilometres. The vegetation on the mountain is particularly diverse with snow gums, heathlands and snow grass on the upper reaches and the lower lying slopes and gullies having dry and moist eucalypt forests. The mountain is home to the endangered yellow bellied glider, little pied bat and two rare eucalypts.
There are a total of seven walking tracks in the State Conservation Area. All depart, apart from the Towac Track, from the parking area at the top of the mountain:
Spring Glade Track is 3 km, 90 minutes return, moderate difficulty
Summits Track is 2 km, 60 minutes return, moderate difficulty
Snowgum Track is 1.3 km 60 minutes return, moderate difficulty
Nature Walk Track is 2.7 km, 60 minute loop, moderate difficulty
Hopetoun Falls Track is 5.6 km, 2 1.2 hours return, moderate difficulty
Federal Falls, 3.8 km, 2 1/2 hour loop, moderate
Mount Towac Track, 1.8 km, 1 hour return, moderate
There is a map of all the walks available at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/mount-canobolas-state-conservation-area/map but the best option is the brochure which is available at the Visitor Centre.
Geologically Mount Canobolas is fascinating. It was formed around 11-13 million years ago when 800 square kilometres of lava covered the land. The central area of the mountain comprises over fifty volcanic vents, dykes, peaks, domes and plugs.
It is a comment on the flatness of the Australian continent that if you were to draw a straight line west from Mount Canobolas you would not find a higher point until you reached the coast of Africa. The mountain's walks offer excellent opportunities to see a wide variety of fauna including rosellas, cockatoos, parrots, lorikeets, grey kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koalas and small possums.

Wineries in the District
The city's website - http://www.visitorange.com.au/search_resultall.asp - provides information about 41 vineyards in the local area. 

The Borenore Trail
A particularly enjoyable way to experience a cross-section of vineyards is to collect the Explore the Borenore Trail brochure and take a pleasant journey along the Escort Way. There is also the Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve (about 17 km from Orange) with its two easy walks:
Arch Loop Trail - a 700 m loop to the Arch Cave which takes less than 30 minutes (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/arch-loop-track) and
Verandah Cave - a 3.5 km walk along the Boree Creek to a large limestone overhang above a pool of water. Check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/show-caves/verandah-cave.

Ophir (it rhymes with 'loafer' or 'sofa') is located in a gorge 27 km north-east of Orange. In April, 1851 what is now a peaceful recreation reserve with picnic and camping facilities where Summer Hill Creek and Lewis Ponds Creek meet, was the site of a discovery that changed Australian society and the Australian economy dramatically. Today it is a pleasant picnic area with two excellent walks through quiet bushland which was once the site of mines, tunnels and furious activity as more than 2,000 miners dug for their fortunes. Of particular interest in the area are the numerous old mines some of which are still operational and can be inspected. 
The main attraction at Ophir is the 560 ha Historic Ophir Reserve which comprises camping and picnic facilities; the junction of the Summer Hill and Lewis Ponds Creeks which flow into the Ophir Creek; two pleasant walking trails which include the site of the original 1851 gold strike and of the 1866 Belmore Reef find; earthen water races, a rare stone gravity-fed water race (c.1890) for washing the crushed quartz from the stamper batteries; abandoned tunnels, old diggings, a flagstone causeway, mullock heaps, the remains of a flying fox and the old cemetery. One tombstone identifies Charlie Corse who received a bullet in the head when he dared Richard Spencer to shoot him in a dispute over a saddle. Spencer was gaoled in Bathurst prison. On the northern side of the causeway is an obelisk to commemorate the historical importance of the site which was built in 1923.

Birthplace of 'Banjo' Paterson
It is known and accepted that A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson was born at Narrambla near Orange on 17 February, 1864. But there is a problem. Some people argue that he was born at the home of John Templer, a local mill owner and the husband of Paterson's great-aunt Rosamund but no one is sure where the home was.

One Possible Home
On the road to Ophir, 5 km from Orange, is a white monument which was unveiled by Paterson's widow in 1947 which declares that this was the location where Andrew 'Banjo' Paterson, was born. There is a pleasant park area where enthusiasts can enjoy a picnic and appreciate the rolling countryside.

Emmaville Cottage
Now located in the Botanic Gardens on Yellow Box Way and open from 9.00 am - 4.00 pm, Emmaville Cottage is a four room cottage constructed from redwood imported from North America in the 1850s and possibly pre-fabricated. It was moved and installed in the Botanic Gardens in 2013 and some people argue that it was where Paterson was born. It is unlikely as the 1947 location on the Ophir Road is seen as the most likely. When the discussion was raised the Rotary Club, which restored the historic cottage, insisted that they had no definite evidence but that the cottage had been located on Narrambla and, therefore, had connections with Paterson's birth place.

Cadia is located 22 km south-west of Orange. The discovery of copper and gold in the Cadia area dates back to 1851, with modern era exploration in the district commencing in the mid 1960s. In 1992, the Cadia Hill gold copper porphyry deposit was discovered by Newcrest Mining Limited. The Cadia East deposit was subsequently discovered in 1994 followed by the Ridgeway deposit in 1996.
Newcrest have published a booklet on the Cadia Valley Operations - Heritage Walking Trail. It is downloadable at http://www.cadiavalley.com.au/client_images/1071622.pdf.
The walk includes an Aboriginal scar tree;  a two-storey Cornish engine and pumping house, built of stone, with a circular stone and brick chimney; a single-storey boiler house annexe; a large stone paved working area; a Garden of Remembrance where the town's cemetery has been relocated; and an Open Pit Lookout. The equipment on display was probably erected by the Gulgong Copper Company in the 1870s it closed down in the 1880s. It is a genuinely fascinating look into old and new gold mining.

Cobb & Co Heritage Trail
The historic inland coaching company, Cobb & Co, celebrated the 150th anniversary of its first journey in 2004. The company's contribution to Australia's development was celebrated with the establishment of a heritage trail from Bathurst and Bourke. 
Cobb & Co's origins lay in the traffic created by the goldrushes of the early 1850s. As the Heritage Trail website states: 'The company was enormously successful and had branches or franchises throughout much of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. At its peak, Cobb & Co operated along a network of tracks that extended further than those of any other coach system in the world – its coaches travelled 28,000 miles (44,800 km) per week and 6000 (out of their 30,000) horses were harnessed every day. Cobb & Co created a web of tracks from Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria and Port Douglas on the Coral Sea down to the furthest reaches of Victoria and South Australia – in all, a continuous line of 2000 miles (3200 km) of track over eastern Australia from south to north, with a total of 7000 miles (11,200 km) of regular routes' (see http://www.cobbandco.net.au).
Cobb & Co partner, William Franklin Whitney, took up residence in Orange and he and his wife are buried in the local cemetery. The heritage trail also takes in the family's old residence (which was used as a company stables and depot) and the Whitney Fountain, built by Whitney's employees, in his honour. Other Cobb & Co sites include the Victoria Hotel, the Royal Hotel, the old booking office site, the former passenger pick-up point, and other sites in the shire, such as changing stations and track routes.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was occupied by Wiradjuri Aborigines. 

* The first Europeans to reach the area were a party led by G.W. Evans which saw Mount Canobolas on 23 June, 1813. 

* The Surveyor-General John Oxley passed through Lewis Pond and Ophir in 1817-18 but did not reach Orange.

* In 1820 Surveyor Meehan passed west of the present site of Orange.

* The first European to pass through the present townsite was Lieutenant Percy Simpson who was heading towards Wellington in 1823. He was accompanied by Chief Constable John Blackman who gave his name to Blackman's Swamp which was what the settlement was called until the name 'Orange' began to appear on official documents in the late 1820s. 

* A town site was surveyed in 1828.

* In 1835, after he had suggested a name for the future town, Surveyor Thomas Mitchell camped at Boree and climbed Mount Canobolas. 

* By 1836 land in the area was being sold. Notable early purchasers were W.E. Sampson and J. Moulder both of whom are commemorated by local street names.

* By the late 1830s a town was forming. Sampson and Moulder subdivided their landholdings.

* The first land had been sold in the area by 1836.

* A man named John Peisley obtained a license for the Coach and Horses Inn in 1838. 

* By 1840 a blacksmith and a wheelwright had set themselves up near the inn.

* By 1845 there were more shops including a store, a tannery and a shoemaker.

* The site of Orange was officially proclaimed on 18 November, 1846. 

* By 1848 there were only three buildings in the village.

* Payable gold was discovered at Ophir in April, 1851. Thousands of people flocked to the Ophir diggings. 

* Gold was discovered at Lucknow in May, 1851. 

* Between 1851 and 1871 the population of Orange grew from 28 to 1456 and businesses sprang up to meet the needs of the miners who passed through the area on their way to the goldfields.

* By 1862 Cobb & Co were running a regular coach service from Bathurst to Forbes which passed through Orange. 

* In 1863 a tollgate was constructed on the road to the east of the present town. 

* The poet 'Banjo' Paterson was born on 17 February, 1864 on a property outside the town. 

* By the 1870s the area was known for its high quality wheat and was gaining a reputation as the finest wheat producing area in New South Wales. 

* The railway reached the town in 1877.

* In 1880 Orange was proclaimed a municipality.

* The town hall was completed in 1887.

* In 1946 Orange was proclaimed a city.

* The first Australian Touring Car Championship, now known as the V8 Supercar Championship, was held in 1960.

* By the 1970s the district was producing over 10 per cent of the country's apple supplies and reputedly more than half the apples grown in New South Wales. 

* Today the city prides itself on being one of the country's food baskets. Olives, grapes, apples, berries, fine lamb and beef are all grown in the local area and the produce is of the highest quality. The district has over 40 vineyards.

* A new Court house was built in 2001.

* The city's Electrolux white goods factory closed in 2017.


Visitor Information

Orange Visitor Centre, 151 Byng St, tel: (02) 6393 8226, 1800 069 466.


Useful Websites

The city's official website - http://www.visitorange.com.au - provides detailed information about accommodation and eating in the city as well as information about local attractions.

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4 suggestions
  • Looking for information on Tannery in Peisley Street, Orange

    Dorothy Charlton
  • * Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was occupied by Wiradjuri Aborigines.
    So that’s it!! Nothing about the history of taking the land or any wars and how they were treated. No town camps or land returned? Very poor history page Orange.

  • I agree with previous writer. I was looking to visit Orange and to get to know about first nations people there. Nothing about the Wiradjuri is mentioned in any of your sites or things to do. No artworks or events. Disappointing.

    Ruth McDermott
    • I often have to point out that this is a guide to things to see and do in towns. If there are Wiradjuri exhibits in Orange I don’t know about them but, obviously because of the nature of the site, would be very happy to include them.

      Bruce Elder