Apple season has started early in 2018! And Bilpin is the place to be to pick your own crisp fresh apples. It is at the foot of the Blue Mountains, just a bit north west of Richmond. We went to Bilpin Fruit Bowl for our first apple picking adventure in 2017. I choose Bilpin Fruit Bowl as it was the closest one to us and had a cafe, shop and playground…everything we would need for a nice morning outing.
But it is the only one we know of that charges an entry fee. So if you aren’t fussed about having a cafe, playground and toilets within walking distance then you can just keep driving a bit until you reach another pick your own farm. We visited Pine Crest Orchard last year for pink lady apples and will be heading back there next season. There were at least three other farms that we drove passed with pick your own apples signs, though they don’t seem to have websites or Facebook pages. The Harvest Trails and Markets website has a few others listed with a handy map.
I love the whole idea of picking your own fruit – kids learning where their food comes from, getting some farm fresh air, enjoying freshly picked fruit, driving through the countryside and supporting local farmers. And it has been a great way for me to get my kids to eat fruit that they haven’t been keen to try at home. My boys also loved the drive up, particularly spotting cows along the way. We drove passed many lovely looking cafes, restaurants and shops so you could definitely make a day of it.
Bilpin Fruit Bowl is actually two separate businesses next to one another. One is the fruit and veg shop with a cafe inside, that also has toilets and a playground. About 100m west of the shop, at the end of the carpark, there is the farm. This is where you can pick your own apples, along with some vegetables.
Pick Your Own Apples
You will need to park your car at the entrance to the farm and walk in about 200m. You will then be greeted by a member of the owners family at a counter. This is where you will return to weigh and pay for the fruit you pick. There is an entry fee $5.00 per person and children between 3 and 15 years are $3.00. No booking necessary, you just turn.
The staff will give you some bags and let you know where and how to pick the apples. There are also signs showing what is available to pick and the prices. Some are by the kilo and others per piece.
Depending when you go, there will be different variety of apples available and different areas to pick from. Currently, there are royal gala apples available for picking at $8kg (19th January 2018). They do have chemical free apples as well, so make sure you ask where they are. Pink lady apples are our favourite but they won’t be ready for picking until late March. So we will be heading back out there then. Here is a rough guide of when different apples are available to pick at Bilpin Fruit Bowl.
- Royal Gala Apples: Mid Jan to End Feb
- Fuji Apples: Mid Feb
- Jonathon: Apples Mid Feb
- Red Delicious Apples: Mid Feb to End Feb
- Pink Lady: Apples End March
In addition to the apples, there are about 20 rows of vegetables growing. The vegetable garden was rather overgrown when we were there, due to the rain, but we still managed to pick some tomatoes. We spoke with other pickers who had found some zucchini flowers and eggplants, plus seen a diamond python but we missed seeing the snake thank goodness.
There are rows and rows of apple trees and my Mr 4 and Mr 2.5 were easily able to reach heaps of apples to help with picking. They also enjoyed collecting a lot of fallen apples (and there were a LOT on the ground due to the rains) and relocating them for a good 20mins!
With all the rain, it was understandably very muddy and I am glad we wore gumboots and packed raincoats…..it rained on our way back to the counter from picking.
The Bilpin Fruit Bowl is only open on weekends and public holidays from 10am to 4pm, until end of April. But from time to time they also open on Fridays.
Note: you can also pick peaches and nectarines at Bilpin Fruit Bowl during December and January. Nectarines have all now been picked and you can pick the last of the peaches on 20th/21st January 2018.
Cafe and Shop
The cafe is located inside the fruit and veg shop, that also sells honeys, Bilpin Cider and some other local produce. There are a few tables inside but most of the seating is outside under an awning. This is where we sat and thankfully stayed dry while the rain came down.
The cafe serves delicious warm apple pies made on the premises, with your choice of ice cream or cream. You ca also get sandwiches, hot chips, pies, hot drinks, milkshakes and muffins. It is simple fare but suited us fine. I enjoyed a small apple pie with ice cream while my kids had a cheese toastie and chips.
Playground and Other Facilities
The playground consists of some slides and apple themed climbing structures. While a bit run down, it would still do the job.
Between the playground and shop, there are some toilets. We didn’t use them so can’t say whether there were baby change facilities.
Getting to Bilpin Fruit Bowl
Bilpin is only about an hour drive from the City of Parramatta. We went along Richmond Road, passed the new Sydney Business Park at Marsden Park with a massive Ikea, Bunnings, Lindt Cafe and other stores, and then up Bells Line of Road.
There is heaps of on-site parking at the cafe and shop, but limited parking near the entrance to the farm. It is about a 200m walk from where you need to leave your car.