I'm a freelance writer who lives on the Bellarine Peninsula. I enjoy finding new things to see and do in the beautiful area that I live in.
Published January 4th 2013
There's something so rewarding about going out and picking fresh fruit. Of course some of the joy comes from planting and nurturing the plants, and watching as the fruit grows and matures, but for a lot of people, that simply isn't an option. Luckily, there are others who realise this and so make their orchards available to the general public, so that everybody has the chance to delight in the pleasures of picking fresh fruit straight from the source.
Tuckerberry Hill, which can be found on Drysdale's rolling Murradoc Hill, is the perfect place to venture if you're looking to pick fresh, in-season blueberries (and now strawberries). Set across a sprawling three hectares of land, hundreds of bushes are set out in neat rows, allowing visitors to stroll through and pick to their heart's content.
Bird netting encloses the crop area
It really is a very simple concept. In a set up next to the small Tuckerberry Hill Café, you are invited to grab a bucket and then head towards the enclosed blueberry and strawberry plants. Once through the gate, you are able to pick from any of the bushes, with the staff more than happy to direct you to the plants with the most bountiful fruit. Then it's simply a matter of going up to the blueberry plants in question and 'tickling' them with your hands (in a method shown by the staff) to pick the ripest berries.
Once your bucket is full, head back to the staff, who'll weigh your pickings and charge you accordingly. There are only a few conditions- you need to put the blueberries and the strawberries into separate buckets, and eating from the bushes is discouraged (although one or two berries shouldn't be a problem).
Picking blueberries is extremely easy
After you've done your picking, why not stop by the café and enjoy some blueberry-themed treats. While there are your expected blueberry muffins, cakes and milkshakes, you can also have scones with blueberry jam and cream, or a blueberry soft serve, made with fresh ingredients right in front of you. They also serve the usual café drinks (such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and juices), as well as a variety of salads (if you feel like something more than morning or afternoon tea).
The café itself is quite lovely, with a light and airy colour scheme. The pale blue walls are offset by the white painted ceiling, white wooden tables and tan-coloured chairs. Whimsical artwork adorns the walls (available for purchase, at gallery prices), and the glass concertina doors open out onto a decking area. In a corner of the café is a dedicated children's space, with toys for them to play with. Outside and just beyond the aforementioned decking area lies a small grassed space, with several outdoor tables shaded by umbrellas and a plastic play area for children. On Saturdays in January (from 12-5pm), Tuckerberry Hill will also be selling some locally brewed ciders, wines and beers, and will feature live music performances.
Inside the Tuckerberry Hill Cafe
Tuckerberry Hill prides itself on being an organic and chemical-free farm, with bird netting covering the entire crop (hence the need for a gate to enter). If you're planning on spending a while there, it would also be a good idea to bring a hat, sunglasses and/or sunsmart clothing, as the farm is only open during the summer months and there is little to no shade out amongst the blueberry bushes.
It doesn't take long to fill up your bucket
Tuckerberry Hill is the ideal place to go if you want to enjoy nature's bounty and a slightly different experience from the norm. It's one stop in the Bellarine Peninsula that you won't want to miss.