Orange Picking Near Sydney

Sydney Weekend trips

Orange Picking Near Sydney at Watkins Family Farm

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that we’d gotten an idea of our head about going apple picking. I don’t know why we thought of it, as fruit picking is not a thing we’ve ever done, but once the idea was seeded, Partner-in-Crime and I were both running with it, pastoral fantasies dancing in our head. It turned out that we were too late for apples, but right in time for oranges … which seems weird because … winter… but, we were happy to make the adjustment in our city slicker dreamscape from apples to oranges (all the same to us). And so it was that we found ourselves heading out of town yesterday afternoon towards Watkins Family Farm.

Located about an hour and a half outside of Sydney, we were promised “pick your own mandarins,” we’d conjured in our minds. Their website warned about following our new-fangled GPS, as it was going to send us down a treacherous dirt road, and I trust you won’t be surprised to learn that’s exactly what we did. By the time we decided to turn around, we’d already discussed the plot of Deliverance and a recent case of a man lost in the bush for months until it was discovered he’d been bitten by a snake and died meters from his bogged in truck – because that’s where our city minds go to when confronted by the Great Unpaved. Well, we tried to turn around, but were promptly met with a pair of equally inappropriate vehicles going the other direction, and as it was decidedly a one-way path on which cars are theoretically allowed to go both ways, we had to back all the way up to the curve we’d just come from to let them pass. We then decided that if we followed the Kia and the Holden closely enough, we probably wouldn’t die alone this day.

Thankfully, that was our only snag, and it wasn’t long before we found our way to the mandarins.

It was exactly what we’d imagined – rows and rows and overflowing orange trees, friendly farm animals, port-a-potties, and even a rusting bathtub on its side. This, indeed, was what we’d come all this way for.

It was $10 for as many mandarins as you could fill into a bucket. We let Hushpuppy take on the picking duties, which she did with as much glee as we’d hoped for. She would have been happy to fill at least two or three more buckets if we’d found it suitable to walk away with 20 or 30 kilos of oranges. As we’re just a family of three, we thought one bucket would be more than enough to suit all of our citrus needs for some days to come.

We brought a picnic lunch, and I bought a $3 cup of instant coffee from the Watkin’s coffee cart. I ordered a flat white, and the woman at the cart laughed and said, “that’s about all we have!” before pouring the kettle water over the Nescafe and pointing me in the direction of the packets of milk and sugar. This was a moment where being American came in handy.

We spent another half hour or so hanging out with the sheep, goat, horse, and chickens. Hushpuppy was too afraid to feed the friendly sheep and goat, all of which seemed happy to eat a continuous stream of oranges, but she was happy to stand by while P-i-C and I did it on her behalf.

On the way home, we took the (paved) road by the lovely Hawkesbury River and to the town of Wiseman’s Ferry, where we found a nice park for Hushpuppy to get out a little extra energy while we enjoyed the glowing mountains, just before sunset. 

We had all of our city slicker fantasies fulfilled, and I’d happily make mandarin picking an annual tradition.

Postscript: Staring down two salad bowls full of oranges this morning, I picked up some suggestions for things to do with them. One was this “30 second orange cake” recipe for the Thermomix/Bellini (though you could easily do it in a food processor). Taking a recommendation, I turned the cake into muffins, instead, and the result was decadent and delicious – even worth the dirt road.

3 thoughts on “Orange Picking Near Sydney

  1. Yvette

    Why oh why oh why did I never go fruit picking and farm hopping?!?!? This is totes my thing! And I absolutely ADORE mandarins. I want that lil muffin in my tummy! Alas, I am once again living vicariously through you and Hushpuppy (my fav lil person celeb). We’ve been on a motorcycle ride through Wiseman’s Ferry. We took the ferry to the other side and had lunch at a motorcycle (sort of) diner. While we were there, the bugs were atrocious, but no mozzies so all good. Just annoying. But getting back to the subject at hand … I’m totally jelly of your day. Sounds completely awesome.


    1. Cristin Post author

      It was really fun – a great (and inexpensive!) day out. It’s so nice to get a little outside of the city sometimes. Wiseman’s Ferry seemed really sweet. It’s a holiday weekend, so it was busy – I imagine plenty of Sydneysiders have vacation places there. Such a beautiful region.

  2. Christie Wilkin

    We have been strawberry picking, blueberry picking, apple picking, cherry picking …. but have never picked mandarins! Sounds like a great day, and such a good thing to do with little ones. Even my non-fruit eaters have enjoyed the experience of visiting a farm and picking produce with their own fingers. I’d love to have one of those muffins to go with the flat white I am drinking at the moment.

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