If you’ve never thought of fruit picking as a possible family activity then you really must put it down on your ‘to do list’ asap!
My family loves it so we try and get out to an orchard at least once a season. We live in the inner suburbs of Sydney which means most orchards are about an hour drive from home, but this just adds to the fun of the day out. There’s just something captivating about getting out of the suburbs, isn’t there? I really enjoy long drives (without traffic!). I find it soothing as you drive towards wide open spaces where all you’re distracted by are the clear blue skies and the beauty of the arid lands, the pastures and native grasslands.
Apart from the road trip, fruit picking gets you outdoors as a family and gives the kids a real awareness of where their food comes from, which is great for my girls (who are 15, 12 and 10). My youngest though (who is now 18 months) doesn’t understand all the ‘where does my food come from’ stuff yet, but I did find this last trip (mandarin picking) he really enjoyed more than the previous trips. This time he’s more mobile, he recognised the fruit and attempted picking them off the trees as well as getting them straight to the bucket. For the most part he tried his utmost to carry the buckets on his own as he moved from tree to tree to find fruit to pick! It really was the most adorable thing to watch and experience.
The fruit you can pick varies of course from season to season and a quick Google search will give you an idea of what’s out there. Other than the internet search, I’ve actually come across an app called ‘The Farm Gate’ which tells you what’s in season , helps you find a farm around NSW and gives you info about the farm (is it a ‘pick your own’, what you can pick, opening times & days). I find it handy and you might too*
Our most recent trip took us to Laughtondale, Wisemans Ferry to Watkins Family Farm. A lovely place where we picked our own mandarins in a valley of orchards with beautiful mountains as a backdrop. There are a few other ‘pick your own farms’ in this area but this one I chose because they also have farm animals that you can feed (you can purchase animal feed from there) and the free range chooks that roam around the orchard were an added surprise. There was no entry fee here. You just pay $12.50 for a bucket and fill it up with as many mandarins as possible. We worked out we got about 6kg per bucket, which is a bargain for the freshest & sweetest mandarins.
This last Autumn we drove to Bilpin, just past Richmond for apple picking at Bilpin Fruit Bowl. It was just over an hours drive and appeared to be really popular, so much so it was as busy as any popular attraction in Sydney’s CBD! This particular place has a family run shop on grounds where they sell homemade jams and freshly made apple pies amongst other things. I took a packed lunch from home which we enjoyed in their picnic area and had one of their apple pies for dessert and it was real tasty! We left with about 6kg of apples and like all freshly picked fruit they tasted so much better than anything you’d buy at the supermarket. Their website does say there are vegetables for picking too but to be honest I found their veggie patches to be a mess with nothing worth picking. The other thing was, unlike many other places, where you just pay for what you pick, this place also charged for entering the orchard (something they don’t mention on their website). From memory it was about $2.50/person plus on top of that you pay per kilogram for whatever you pick.
All in all we did enjoy this trip and would definitely go again if only for the apple pie!
Last summer our fruit picking adventure took us to a place called Wombat, in Young, about a 5 hour drive from Sydney to hand pick cherries. We went to an orchard called Wombat Heights. A lovely place where we picked cherries, sugar plums and some of the best peaches I’ve ever tasted. Here you only pay for what you pick per kilogram and there’s also a garden where you can picnic. If you’re up for the drive it’s definitely worth it! Just remember, if you’re wanting cherries, don’t go too late in the Summer season like we did. If you do, you won’t find as many cherries to pick and most will be very ripe.
I know those of you with young kids may be a bit nervous about a long drive. I definitely was before we took our first with the kids in the back. But you really need not be. Just be prepared. Take into account toilet breaks or even just a stop over to get out of the car and stretch your legs (a must for the adults too!). And put together things to do in the car (gadgets are a God send in this situation I say!) and plenty of snacks.
I hope I’ve convinced you to get your families out onto the road and off to an orchard this weekend. Driving to and wandering through the orchards really is a rejuvenating activity and gives you time to relax with your family. And best of all you get to take home the freshest and tastiest edible goodies that you hand picked!
*This post is not sponsored. These are my own recommendations based on personal experiences.