If there’s one fruit that speaks Australian Christmas then it’s the cherry – probably in part due to the fact that cherry season runs from November to December when the cherries are at their ripest and juiciest!
What better way to get your cherries than to head to a beautiful part of the NSW countryside and pick your own, immersed in stunning hillside scenery. That’s exactly what you can do when you head to Young in NSW – just 2 hours from Canberra and 4 hours from Sydney.
Young – the Cherry Capital of Australia
We arrived in Young late morning with a plan to go straight to the orchards – but the beautiful historic town had other ideas for us! We had a fun picnic lunch at Carrington Park where the boys played on the playground – then took a walk through the lovely town centre stopping at the heritage trail signs and getting excited about all the amazing Christmas decorations that are adorning the streets. We headed up to the tourist information centre and grabbed a map of where to find some cherry picking – and were also told about the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden – this is definitely worth a visit! Winding paths lead you around a leafy labyrinth of incredible trees, plants and flowers, surrounding a peaceful lake with a water wheel feature, lots of lilypads for frog spotting and a bronze horse statue. It’s perfect for the kids to explore and there’s also a lot of history to learn about the time of the goldfields and the riots.
We finally made it out to the orchard at around 3pm – just in time for afternoon tea! We chose to visit Ballinaclash – and it was lucky that we were hungry – there are so many delights to taste and treat yourself to – from fresh cherries, apricots, peaches and strawberries to jams, chuntneys, cherry ice cream, icy poles and home made cherry pies! They also have a cellar door where you can taste their signature Viognier, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cab Sauv or cherry dessert wines. (I think I’m moving in!)
Entry to Ballinaclash is free – you just need to pay for whatever you pick. We grabbed our buckets and were directed up the hill through the orchards and vineyards – and reached the picking spot about 1km up the dirt track (suitable for all vehicles). There were so many delicious fruit you could literally pick them from the road – they were practically falling off the trees and it was so exciting for the boys to get picking! There are lots of low lying branches so it’s great for kids.
We filled our buckets with cherries then headed down to the apricot area – where we picked a few kilos to make some jam – then took all our goodies down to the shop to be weighed. The cherries were only $8 per kilo and apricots just $4 per kilo so we got loads of fruit for a great price.
Teaching the kids about where food comes from is one of my priorities while we travel – and although they are still young it’s great to see them learn that food doesn’t just come from the supermarket! Luckily a bit of tasting is allowed whilst you are picking – it was clear that one member of the family took full advantage of this…
The National Cherry Festival
Every year Young is also host to the National Cherry Festival – where as well as celebrating everything cherry you will also find fireworks, a grand parade, live music, a country rodeo and bush poets. You can try and beat the record in the Pip Spit or compete for the coveted Cherry Queen Crown!
For all the latest news on the Cherry Festival you can visit their website.
You can also buy the fruit from many roadside stalls – but if you fancy a go at picking your own here are some tips:
Cherry Picking Tips
- It’s hot! Don’t forget hats, sunscreen and plenty of water!
- Only pick the ripe fruit! Cherries will only ripen on the vine so leave the unripe ones on the vine.
- Respect the trees! Don’t snap the branches as it will affect them for future harvests
- Taste test! A little testing along the way is fine – just don’t eat too many or you’ll get cherry belly!
- Keep them cool – refrigerate your cherries as soon as you can to keep them fresh
- Take your time – make sure you have plenty of time to explore and to try all of the goodies on offer. Some of the orchards also have picnic and BBQ areas so you can enjoy lunch in beautiful surrounds.
Below is a map of this year’s pick your own sites – for up to date info pop into the visitor centre or visit their website.