The season of apples is coming to an end but make haste and pick your own at Shields Orchard. Located in Bilpin, Shields Orchard is only 1.5 hours from Sydney and located on the main highway for easy access for day trippers like myself.
This orchard sits on six hectares mainly growing apples, some stone fruit, quince and potatoes. With plenty of apples still to pick, we discovered the true taste of delicious tree-ripened apples. We were taken by the sweetness of the fruit after the first bite. The trees are small in size and grown from dwarf stock removing the need for the ladders and kids can easily pick the fruit.
We spent an afternoon discovering this delightful orchard. It is recommended to ring ahead and meet with Bill and Julie to get a rundown on what apples are ripe for the picking. Instructed with simple rules to watch where you are walking due to uneven surfaces, supervise the kids when picking (for an apple to land on one's head isn't pleasant), pay for what you pick and use the rubbish bins provided to keep the farm clean, were easy enough to follow.
Follow the blue line
Carrying a green basket each, the kids followed the painted blue line to the apple trees past the rows of roped off fruit trees, observing the directions before picking their body weight in Pink Ladies and Granny Smith apples. Wondering down the rows of apple trees, I found that the Pink Ladies were my favourite as they are so sweet but the Granny Smiths which I usually expect to be sour in taste were sweeter than expected.
Apple picking time
You can taste the fruit as you go and pay for what you pick at $2.70 a kilogram or in our case as we picked over 10kg it was $2.50 a kilogram.
Picking our fill of apples, we headed back to the shed to weigh and pay. Shields Orchard provided cardboard boxes and packing tape so we could easily pack our 15kg of apples to take home with us. My next challenge is to make use of all these delicious apples. I'm thinking apple pie or apple jam; is there such thing as apple jam?
Also on offer at the shed are shelves of preserves, apple cider, apple vinegar, apple juice and apple sauces. There are picnic tables available and toilet facilities.
Why not make an afternoon of it and take in the afternoon sun with an apple or cold apple cider. Don't forget to ring ahead to let Bill and Julie know that you'll be coming.
Goods on offer
Entry is free with free parking available at the front of the shed. There is ample signage leading up to Shields Orchard but if you are driving from Sydney, the orchard is located on your right, so give plenty of warning to the cars behind when your turn right into car park in front of the shed.
If you're hankering for some homemade apple pie, look no further than Mountain View apple pies en route to Lithgow. Still warm from being recently baked, the rustic short crust filled with slices of soft apple was heaven. Note to buy more than one for next time.