Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
With a backdrop over the stunning Yarra Ranges, Chappies is definitely the place to go to if you want to pick your own summer berries/cherries. The sweet smells of ripe berries, sunshine on your skin, a gentle breeze and row upon row of cherry trees bending under the weight of the abundance of sweet, juicy dark red cherries is the perfect reason to get outdoors, pick your own fruit and have a fun family day out.
While I have been meaning to take the children cherry picking for a few years now I had been turned off after a bad experience of going to an overly touristy strawberry farm where the fruit was overpriced, customers undervalued and fruit that couldn't be eaten until thoroughly washed because of chemicals used on them.
At Chappies however, I was impressed with the set up, the reasonable cost of pick your own fruit which could be eaten while being picked, the friendliness of staff and the fantastic location perfect for a day trip out of town.
On entry there is a large sign out the front with cherries on it that directs you down a short driveway to a large gravel carpark. Across from the car park is a colourbond shed which houses the sorting room out the back, a shop out the front where you can buy freshly picked fruit in varying grades and prices, jars of jam and is also where you collect your buckets from if you intend to pick your own cherries/berries.
Entry into the cherry orchard costs $9 adults, $3 school aged children and free for kids under the age of 5. After purchasing the tickets you need to line up at a designated area to get on board the mini bus which transports pickers to and from the orchard located less than a kilometre away. The buses are on constant rotations so the wait at either end took less than 5 minutes and the kids enjoyed the novelty of being driven in a bus to and from the orchard.
Once dropped off we were amazed at the sheer amount of cherries on the trees. You needn't walk any further than the closest tree from the bus stop to easily fill a bucket or two (a bucket holds 5kg). Though if you're like us, you may enjoy a bit of a stroll through the orchard while joining the children on their mission to find the biggest, reddest cherries on the farm while other pickers were taking an even more leisurely approach having picnics among the trees and making the most of a photo opportunity.
Back at the shop the cherries are weighed and charged at $10 per kilo. I know you may be thinking that you can just buy them at the supermarket for the same price without the effort of going out to Silvan to pick your own cherries but I can honestly say that the freshness and flavour won't be beaten and I think it's a great opportunity to take kids out into the orchard to show them first hand where the fruit comes from and to give them an appreciation for real food.
Unfortunately we arrived too late to pick our own berries as we found out berry picking finishes at 12pm each day to give the bushes a chance to rest and grow for the following days pickers. Entry for berry picking is $13 and includes the first kilo of berries free. We did however manage to buy some freshly picked raspberries from the shop for a reasonable price of $10 (over 500grams).
The Chapman family have been growing fruit in Silvan since 1894 and have become leaders in clean fruit production based on integrated pest management and sustainable farm management. At various times throughout the year their crops and orchards produce cherries, raspberries, blackberries and sour cherries that are a part of the U-Pick season from late Nov-early Jan. Persimons are also grown on the property but don't fruit until May through to June.
The orchard is located at 21 Parker Rd, Silvan which is about 50kms from Melbourne (1hr 15min), 14km from Lilydale or about 30kms from Healesville. They are open everyday from mid November to 31st of January (except Christmas Day) from 8:30am to 5pm.