With dozens of pick-your-owns less than two hours’ drive from the CBD, it’s the perfect excuse for a fruitful road trip. By Juliana Yu THERE’S SOMETHING IRRESISTIBLY romantic about getting outside and gathering nature’s bounty with your own bare hands. The fruit is guaranteed to be fresher and sweeter, and the journey will be more gratifying with the knowledge that you’re supporting our region’s hardworking farmers.
Apples: Pine Crest Orchard
Drive time: 1h 30m This picturesque orchard in Bilpin has been run by the Galbraith family for 40 years. Manager of the farm, John, is also an avid horticulturalist, so at different times of the year you’ll be able to spot various flowers on the property, from daffodils to cherry blossoms, as well as birdlife like rosellas. But what you’re really here for are the crisp, rosy apples. They grow different varieties throughout the year, starting with Tydemans and Akanes in January, before royal gala, golden delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith and pink lady apples carry the season until late May. If you come at the right time, you might also be able to pick peaches, plums, pears and even kiwifruit. There’s no admission fee at Pine Crest – simply pay for what you pick. à2549 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin 2758. 02 4567 1143. pinecrestorchard.com.au.
Drive time: 1h 20m At this strawberry farm just past Picton, the fruit is grown in greenhouses, draping out of tunnels elevated two metres from the ground. You’ll soon forget the topsy-turvyness of it all as you find yourself enthusiastically reaching to snap up the juicy red orbs. The owners say the system helps eliminate pests and bacteria, reducing their need to spray the fruit with chemicals – plus, because everything’s undercover, you can pick through rain, hail or shine. Entry is $10 per person ($5 for kids), for which you may stuff yourself with as many berries as you can, before taking home the rest for $10 a kilo. 200 W Parade, Thirlmere 2572. 0410 292 656.
Stonefruit: Canoelands Orchard
Drive time: 1h 10m In roughly the same amount of time it would take for the L90 to spit you out into the Northern Beaches, you could be frollicking down a peach orchard, picking perfectly formed fruit as you soak in the sun and pretend you’re living in an endless rural Italian summer. The 100 acre orchard at Canoelands is where you can gather endless blood plums, candy plums, yellow and white nectarines, and of course, peaches. It’s not just about fruit here, either – the farm also runs regular bee and blossom tours, and for just $3 you can hitch a tractor ride, taking in views of Marramarra national park before visiting the farm shop for a scoop of homemade ice cream. 27- 29 Canoelands Rd, Canoelands 2157. 0419 688 039. www.canoelandsorchard.com.
Citrus: Ford’s Farm
Drive time: 1h 50m At Ford’s they specialise in mandarins – satsuma, imperial and hickson varieties. You can also pick Tahitian and kaffir limes, lemons and cumquats – tiny oval-shaped fruits that are both sweet and tart and incredibly fun to pop in your mouth whole. Make a day of your visit – there’s picnic areas, a farm shop selling homemade chutney, and sheep to feed. Located right on the Hawkesbury River, the farm is wedged between two massive national parks – Dharug up north, and Marramarra down south, plus the historic town of Wisemans Ferry is on
the way, just 20 minutes out. 1275 Singleton Rd, Laughtondale 2775. 02 4566 3127. www.fordsfarm.com.au.
Vegetables: Bilpin Fruit Bowl
Drive time: 1h 40m As their name suggests, Bilpin Fruit Bowl offers a cornucopia of sweet treats for picking, from yellow peaches and nectarines in summer to Granny Smith and Fuji apples in autumn. But they’re one of the few places that also permits you to forage your own veggies too – the bounty they offer, depending on the season, includes zucchini, yellow squash, bok choy, lettuce, capsicum and even green kale. Entry is $5 for adults and $3 for kids; after that you simply pay for what you pick. à2093 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin 2758. 0404 061 262. www.bilpinfruitbowl.com.au.
Stuff yourself with berries and take home the rest for $10 a kilo