On a bright sunny day in November 2019, we arrived at the beautiful country town of Young, deep in South West NSW. Young is the Cherry Capital of Australia and home to some of the most beautiful orchards and fruit growers alike.
We started our day in the middle of town at the visitors information centre, housed in a beautiful old railway house. Local producers markets were in full swing on the Saturday morning we arrived, surrounded by the beautiful historic trees and lush rose gardens.
After meeting our group we headed out to our first stop in the region, the Taubman and Webb Trading Post in the village of Murringo about 20 minutes east of Young.
Here we explored the wonderful store come museum, full of all kinds of handmade leather goods including their incredibly details and beautifully crafted whips, a tradition of craftsmanship handed down through many generations of whip-makers.
Here we were given a lively whip cracking demonstration and even had the chance to crack the biggest whip I have ever seen! It was an incredible spectacle and a great way to keep us all entertained. I even gave it a crack....
Our next stop was cherry picking at the beautiful Ballinaclash P.Y.O. Orchard and Cellar Door. We rode on the back of a truck all the way out to the furthest reaches of the orchard, where the fruits were ripest and most abundant. After holding on tight and enjoying the bumpy ride we disembarked and got to WEEERRRK! Buckets in hand we wound our way through old wood cherry trees, occasionally taking a fruit here and there to see which cherries we liked the most.
Finding a good tree was easy and filling our buckets even easier! You'd be surprised how quickly those suckers fill up when you're on a roll and having a ball. Before we knew it we were carefully toting our bursting buckets back to the truck and riding the bumpy road back to the cellar door.
Once back we handed over our spoils for weighing, we managed to collect over 5kg of beautiful plump red cherries and I couldn't be happier at the idea of all the wonderfully delicious things i could make with them (and yes my freezer is still full of cherries waiting for baking).
Before lunch, we were treated to a wine tasting at the Ballinaclash cellar door, enjoying their award winning wines and hearing more about this family run operation.
Lunch was served in the sun overlooking the orchards and consisted of a beautiful mix of locally sourced produce; cheeses, cured meats, the most incredible crusty bread together with all kinds of roasted veggies and home made preserves. All lovingly prepared in-house by our gracious hosts.
Desert was of course entirely based around cherries, homemade cherry pie and freshly made cherry ice cream were the options so we took one of each and shared these delicious morsels.
I don't think i'd ever tire of eating this cherry pie... I still dream about it!
Bellies bursting we made our way back to the bus and down the road to another orchard, Hill Lock. Here they not only grow cherries but a whole range of other stone fruits, figs and berries, meaning you can visit nearly all year round and they will have something for you to pick.
Because we clearly haven't had enough cherries we picked up our buckets and hit the back paddock where the most beautiful plump cherries could be found. Filling another bucket or two with their stunning Margaret cherries, a bright red and slightly tart variety.
Taking our fill of cherries we then whipped across to the other side of the farm to the strawberry fields, the sweetness from the strawberries could be smelt in the air all around the strawberry patch and it made for the most dizzying of sensory overloads. Here we picked and picked until we couldn't pick anymore. Filling punnet after punnet of the most incredibly sweet red berries.
With a mountain of fruit in tow and our bodies weary from our massive day of hard labour and overeating we were in desperate need of some rest. So it was back on the bus for a quiet drive out to our last stop, the Allambie Orchard and Cafe.
Here we simple took our time to explore their grounds and soak up the setting sun as it slowly went down over their beautiful orchards. Inside the cafe we were greeted with even more warm hospitality. A glass of local bubbles was had all round while a fabulous local musician played for us.
The cafe sits up overlooking a large dam and orchard and everyone simply sat back and enjoyed the view before dinner was served, burgers for everyone followed by... you guessed it! Cherry pie.
The Hilltops Region is a wonderful place to visit, approximately 4 hours from Sydney and 2 hours from Canberra. Cherry season is from late November and peaks in December with the National Cherry Festival. Young itself is a bustling town with many pubs and restaurants offering great feeds as well as coffee shops and antique stores and much, much more.