Taste the difference in Pialligo - open February to May
Beltana Grange Orchard is situated in an unusual location for an apple orchard - less than a kilometre from Canberra's busy airport. The area is known as Pialligo and it has one main street that runs through the centre of it - Beltana Road - which has four apple orchards, several plant nurseries and a range of landscape suppliers. The Beltana Grange Orchard was established in the 1930's and the owners, the Hauptmann family, have been growing apples here since 1952.
There are over 500 apple trees on the property and they also grow two varieties of pears and quince. Beltana Grange Orchard were the first growers in Australia to grow Gala apples, a variety well-loved around the country today. From February to May each year (or until they sell out) they open their gates to the public to get a taste of juicy natural apples, straight from the grower.
As you drive in, you can walk past the apple orchards and check out the current varieties growing under the protective netting. On the day we visited they had Gala apples ready for the picking just outside the shed, however if you prefer a particular variety then visit at the following times in the year:
It is a rare opportunity, when living in the city, where you can meet a grower and ask questions about the produce you are buying. Inside The Apple Shed our family met one of the owners, Mike Hauptmann, who explained the different varieties and answered our questions about growing apples in Canberra.
On the day of our visit there were several varities of apples to buy, and one variety of pear. All the different varieties cost $6 a kilo, with a one kilo minimum, so you are able to create a mixed bag to try the different types on offer.
The orchards in Pialligo are a great way to show kids where apples really come from - not just from the supermarket. Last year our family visited Kerrison's Orchard further down the road and were amazed by the juiciness of the apples, with apple juice running down our hands after every bite. It is now an annual event to eagerly await the orchards opening up again so we can enjoy them for another season. This year Beltana Grange Orchard opened the day after Australia Day in late January, however they generally open in February, so ensure you get your fill before they close their gates again in May. If you have a good Apple Pie recipe, Beltana's Granny Smith's (available in April and May) would make a particularly juicy apple pie (or few!) to freeze so you can enjoy these beauties all year around.