ORANGE : 2 Oranges Different Under the Skin

Sometimes, comparing Oranges can be like comparing apples and oranges.

At least it is when discussing these two Oranges: the sister cities of Orange, Calif., and Orange, New South Wales, Australia.

“It’s hard to compare, really,” said Betty Callaghan, one of 61 Australians visiting their American namesake this week to commemorate the pair’s 30-year relationship.

“Orange (U.S.A.) is so big and part of one continuous city and we are so isolated,” Callaghan said. “Our next closest village is 30 miles away.”


Indeed, the largely agrarian Australian city has a population about one-quarter the size of the more urban American Orange. Also, the Australian city, which is roughly 165 miles west of Sydney, sits nearby an extinct volcano about 4,200 above sea-level.

But since 1963, the two cities, which became sister cities because of their shared name, have been working to bridge cultural gaps between the two communities. Besides numerous visits between community groups, more than 180 American and Australian high school students from the two cities have participated in foreign-exchange programs.

Orange residents on both continents say they are victims of a shared misconception about the origin of their city name. Callaghan said that Orange, although an agricultural town, was named not after the fruit, but for a King of England--William of Orange.

“We grow apples; we don’t grow oranges,” said Callaghan, who has made three trips to the United States.

Similarly, many Southern Californians believe Orange was named for the fruit trees that blanketed the town decades ago. Rather, the community was named for Orange County, Va., from where the city’s founder hailed.

To emphasize the point, the American Orange dedicated a eucalyptus tree, not an orange tree, at Hart Park on Wednesday as a gesture of goodwill toward the Australian visitors. When the young tree, which is native to Australia, reaches maturity in about 80 years, it could be high as 60 feet.

Since arriving Sunday, the Australian group has maintained a hectic schedule. Besides obligatory visits to Disneyland and Universal Studios, the group also toured downtown Orange, the city’s Police Department and local shopping malls. Before leaving town Friday, the visitors will travel to San Diego and Tijuana.