It was left to the director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Kevin Sheridan, to break the grim news to his staff in Sydney.
It was 1988, and the Department of Agriculture - now the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) - was about to become a pioneer in government decentralisation.
"The day I announced the decision, I went floor by floor to say 'you're all moving to Orange, and there will be no exceptions'," said Mr Sheridan, a guest of honour at the DPI's 130th birthday celebrations on Tuesday at the department's new Ian Armstrong Building.
"I wasn't the most popular person.
"But it's amazing, if you go around and talk to a lot of the people who moved here because they had to - reluctantly - they'd never go back to Sydney.
"They'd tell me this was the best thing to happen to them and their families."
Mr Sheridan said that there had been some 30 years of "talk" about moving the department out of Sydney.
"I'd studied in Pennsylvania and they'd made a decision years ago that state universities that handled agriculture would be moved to the centre of the state where the farming community was.
"I came back here and thought 'why can't we get out of Sydney?'.
"Fortunately (then agriculture minister) Ian Armstrong was on side, and he got (then premier) Nick Greiner on side.
"And then all hell broke loose."
Mr Armstrong, who lives with dementia, was represented at the 130th birthday by his wife Jenny.
"I'm really excited that it's turned out to be the success that it has," said Mrs Armstrong.
"Thanks to Kevin Sheridan, who was the main support for Ian in getting this department moved out here to Orange."
Mrs Armstrong was charged in the late-1980s with greeting busloads of sceptical DPI workers from Sydney.
"There was a lot of resistance," she said, "and I'd go over and say what country life was like; once they got here and realised we had running water and schools and golf courses, it was still hard, but they came."
She said Mr Armstrong was "happy and content" and was aware he'd had a building named after him.
"When you talk with people with dementia, you have to have a bit of the past in there," she said.
"When I gave him the plaque from the opening of the building, he said 'yes, I remember that, we drove up through the canola fields, then we pulled up at the building'.
"I started to think - how did all that happen? He would've been a minister at the time and would've been driven to Orange. That's what he related to."
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