It's not always easy getting the little ones excited about fruit and vegetables, without any of the fancy packaging the humble piece of fruit just can't compete against modern day snackfoods. One sure fire way to get the kids excited about fresh fruit is to get hands on! And at this time of year, it can be a great way to save on your christmas cherries!
New South Wales
New South Wales is a fruit farming mecca. The subtropical temperate climate allows for a huge range and verity of fruits found across the state. During spring and summer it’s fruits like peaches, nectarines and plums as well as strawberries, mandarins and cherries (just in time for Christmas!) that have fruit pickers working overtime.
If you’re located in Sydney, you won’t have to drive as far as you might have thought to get in on the fruit-picking action. Pack up the car and head about an hour west to the Bilpin Fruit Bowl on Bells Line of Road. Here you can pick some of the region’s juiciest peaches each weekend from November to February, depending on the seasonal conditions. Don’t forget to check if the peaches are ready by giving them a call on 02 4567 1152.
NSW is a lot bigger than Sydney, so if you’re looking for a great family day out and want to save a bit of money on your Christmas cherries you can head out to Georgie and Sues Country Farm Produce near Bathurst, about three hours from Sydney. Here you can pick fresh cherries between December and January as well as pick up some homemade preserves and treats. It’s best to give the owners a call on 0431 254 749 before you head out to make sure the cherries are ripe and ready.
Our southern state is home to many world renowned vineyards and wineries, but the cool and often wet conditions give farmers an ideal setting to grow all kinds of other tasty fruits. The winter months are usually the quietest times for fruit picking. But with summer just around the corner, you might as well pack the car and get ready for some family fun now.
Melbourneites have it a little easier than sydney-siders when it comes to picking you're on cherries on the cheap. The Red Hill Cherry Farm is about an hour and a half south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula and offers cherry picking, purchasing and even a range of cherry based preserves and alcoholic drinks including cherry beers and cherry wines! You can see their range of products and picking dates here.
With summer just around the corner it’s the perfect time to top the table with some sweet, succulent strawberries. And Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, about an hour and a half south of Melbourne, is the ideal to place to pick them. They’re open year-round so you can go out on a fetching frenzy any time of the year. They also offer freeze-dried packs so you can garnish your favourite decadent desserts and pavlovas for Christmas. You can reach them on 03 5989 4500.
Queensland is known for its tropical weather and hot sunny days. Sadly for those looking for a christmas bargin that means cherry production is pretty limited to a few small farms in the Stanthorpe region. But these are the perfect conditions for a multitude of other fruits to blossom. In particular, strawberries are ripe for the picking from June through to November, which means now is the time to grab a hat, the sunscreen, and hop into the car for a great day out with the kids.
The Berry Patch in Chambers Flat, located just 40 minutes south of Brisbane, is open seven days a week. The third-generation family farm offers jams, dipping sauces and other take-home goodies to keep all members of the family happy, but it’s the hand-picked harvesting that will be the most fun for all. The Berry Patch offers boxed strawberries or you can head out with a container and collect your own. You then just pay for the weight of your container – got a bucket? Contact them on 07 5546 3652.
Getting out towards Australia’s outback can be a great family trip on its own. And if you’re planning a weekend escape to Toowoomba or thereabouts, an ideal place to visit is the Hampton Blue organic berry farm. Fresh berries can be picked between November and February, although it is advised to contact them first to make sure the fruits are in prime condition. Hampton Blue specialises in blueberries, as well as take-home jams and sauces, and frozen packs. You can contact them on 07 4697 9287.
Australia’s island state is known for its seafood and boutique cheeses, but it’s also home to some great Australian fruits such as apples, cherries, and vineyards. The great thing about Tasmania is that you can explore the entire island and every corner has something interesting and distinct to offer.
If it’s variety you want, Sorell Fruit Farm, located about half an hour east of Hobart, offers a huge range of picking opportunities. Depending on the time of the year, customers can head out and pick apricots, cherries, pears, peaches, and strawberries. Peaches and strawberries are usually the first to bloom, with blackcurrants also just around the corner and cherries starting in early december. Sorell has also planted goji berry and meyer lemons this year which will be ripe for the picking soon. You can reach out to them on 03 6265 3100.
If you’re up north, Turners Beach Berry Patch, about 10 minutes west of Devonport, offers a plethora of berry-picking opportunities. From raspberries, bayberries, blackberries, and strawberries, harvesting on the family farm is a great way to get out into the sunshine and find your favourite fruit. As a bonus, there’s also a cafe and shop so you can relax after a big day of fetching, and find something nice to take home or as a gift. Get in touch with them on 03 6428 3967. They’re open daily and until 9pm on Friday nights.