One thing about Canberra that constantly amazes me is how there is always something new to discover. Take this for example: tucked away on a little road right near the airport, you'll find a bunch of apple orchards where you can spend a crisp autumn weekend picking apples. Or pears, or even quince for that matter. Apples are the main star, though, and with plenty of varieties being grown, the Canberra picking season runs from February to May. If you're a true apple connoisseur, you'll find the usual favourites as well as a heap of heirloom varieties which are absolutely delicious but not widely available because they don't store well-meaning supermarkets don't stock them.
Apple picking is a great way to get your kids thinking about where their food comes from but a trip to the orchards isn't only for the little ones, its great for adults too. There's something wholesome about traipsing around the apple trees choosing your fruit while the autumn air adds a rosy glow to your cheeks, kind of like going back to a simpler time. Maybe it's memories of childhood orchard visits with nanna, possibly the mindfulness of wandering along looking for a particularly appealing piece of fruit. It could even be the spontaneous decision to put a few extra apples in your basket as you make a promise to yourself to learn to bake an old-fashioned apple pie (home made crust and all!) when you get home. Whatever the cause of the nostalgia, there's no taking away from the fun.
There's a wide variety of apples at Tanbella Orchard in Canberra
As far as Canberra's food experiences go, this one is great value (you only pay for what you pick) and family-friendly. If you decide to pick your own, you need to visit Tanbella Orchard. You'll get a map showing which varieties are ripe and ready for picking and a bucket to carry your fruit. You can take as long as you like inside the orchard and, of course, there's a chance to try before you buy. When you're done, your fruit is weighed and you pay by the kilo. As well as the apples, there's an on-site coffee and ice cream van, a picnic area (your own food is welcome) and a produce stand. Tanbella sells seasonal fruit, veggies, juice, honey and apple cider vinegar so you can stock up on some local produce before you head home.
If the hard work of picking isn't quite your cup of tea, Pialligo is also home to some roadside apple sheds.
- Kerrison's Orchard have been growing apples for over fifty years. Kerrison's is a working farm and sell their fruit direct - you'll also be able to get apple peelers and corers. Keep a lookout for discounts on the lower grade fruit.
- Beltana Grange Orchard have apples, pears and quince with trees dating back to the 1930s. They have a minimal spray program. Freshly picked fruit is available to the public on-site.
- Pialligo Apples is an organically certified orchard with a roadside stall selling freshly-picked and tree-ripened apples, other fruit and seasonal vegetables all grown on the block.
So whether you decide to pick your own or just pull up and pay this autumn, Pialligo is the perfect place to find your fresh fruity fix!