Fruit pick­ing

Time Out (Sydney) - - THINGS TO DO -

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. pinecrestor­

Straw­ber­ries: Ber­ry­li­cious

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.­noe­land­sor­

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.fords­

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.bilpin­fruit­

Stuff your­self with berries and take home the rest for $10 a kilo

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