Looking for a fun day out with the kids these school holidays? Or maybe just an excuse to gorge on cherries? Well you better be quick because the season is almost over at Canberra’s only cherry picking orchard!
Anything with cherries gains a place high on my list of favourites. Even the mere notion of picking them has a romantic status in my mind that an apple tree just never will. But what I don’t really enjoy is the four hour return trip from Canberra to go pick them.
Sorry, other cherry growing regions. It’s nothing personal. I’ve been before and loved it but, years later, with kids in tow and a mountain of washing threatening to consume our home, we just can’t spare the time! Which is why I was incredibly excited to learn that we have our own cherry picking wonderland just on the outskirts of Canberra – Kembla Cherry Orchard in Royalla.
I hope you love cherries because here comes some cherry spam… (or should that be jam?)
The orchard was planted in 2002 by Martin and Nina Corby. It’s a huge job but clearly a labour of love, particularly for Martin who is a fourth generation cherry grower. On our arrival he greeted us with a smile and concerted guidance on how to pick the cherries while doing as little damage as possible to the buds for next year’s crop.
“Pick the green stem with a twist but be sure to leave the little brown bits, that’s the energy for a new cherry to form.”
My four and six year old listened intently… only to tug every single one off the tree with vigour. Sorry Martin, I’m sure you factored this into your business plan. I promise I was more careful.
Although it was a hot day the scene was positively idyllic among the shady boughs. The kids had a fantastic time picking the cherries and filling the buckets provided. Every now and then Nina would whizz by on her lawnmower to direct us toward the most bountiful tree, after which all of us would scamper over like the greedy humans that we are!
Last week the price for cherries was $9/kg but it does vary, like any other produce, according to demand. If you want to pick some for the novelty but don’t have enough backpacker determination to do the whole job, they also sell pre-picked cherries in boxes ready to go. Speaking of backpackers, the team say they’ve had people visiting from all over the world to get their cherry fix.
As you can see the cherries are huge and abundant – this ain’t no second best cherry option! But I did go in with one very specific question: how long until they start producing and selling cherry ice cream?
As yet, it’s not on the agenda but they do have an ice cream vendor who comes regularly. This particular day their car had broken down – just our luck!
Our visit to the orchard was an entertaining family activity with the whole exercise taking around an hour from when we arrived. Bathroom facilities are available and it’s a very easy walk from car to orchard so even littlies would enjoy it. Just remember to bring water and sun protection as you can’t buy anything at the farm… other than cherries, of course.
If chomping on a cherry sets your heart aflutter then you’ve only got another week or so to get down to Royalla. The season normally goes from mid December for about three weeks but, given the drought and cold winter, this year’s harvest is a little late so you haven’t missed it yet!
Check the Kembla Facebook page before heading out as they usually post updates.
What: Kembla Cherry Orchard
Where: 185 Shearer Dr, Royalla, NSW
Website: Find them on Facebook or Kembla Cherry Orchard
Phone: 0402 442 068
Bathroom Facilities: Yes
Shop / Cafe: No, but cherries available for purchase.
Please note there is no EFTPOS – cash only.