From late May until about the October long weekend you can drive up to Watkins Family Farm and pick your own mandarins until your hearts content. Well as many as you can carry and the kids are happy to pick anyway! The farm reopens on Saturday 30th May for the 2020 season.
The farm is located near Wisemans Ferry and is just over an hour north of Parramatta. Driving along the Hawkesbury River, with water on one side and steep rock faces on the other, you do start to wonder if you are going the right way….surely there can’t be an orchard here! Well there is a lovely one tucked away in a valley. With the fresh country air and birds chirping, it is easy to feel a million miles away from the city.
Now there are actually TWO Watkins Family Farms….which we only discovered on our way to check out Fords Farm in 2018. You reach the main farm first on your right hand side. But if you go a little further along, you will see another sign for Watkins Family Farm on your left. This is actually the original farm and run by the ‘retired’ Watkins Family members.
This 2nd orchard is on the river side of the road and is in full sun, which is lovely in winter. It’s a LOT quieter here and has the same prices for fruit. There is however an entry fee to this smaller orchard but not everyone needs to buy a bucket. The set up is much simpler but there are still picnic tables, parking and yummy fruit. It is definitely a quicker option if you just want to grab mandarins. The rest of this review is about the main farm.
We’ve visited the Watkins Family Farm to pick mandarins for the last three years. When we visited on the opening week last year, the trees were ladened with fruit!
Supposedly, they grow Imperial, Hickson and Emperor mandarins but I must confess I’m not good at noticing the different types nor can I tell which we picked. But they still taste delicious!
There are no entry fees, but all adults entering the orchard must have a bucket to ensure a minimum spend per adult (of $10 in 2020). The buckets come in two sizes – large for $15 and small for $10 (2020 prices). Whichever you choose, you fill it with as many mandarins as you would like.
I have found the large buckets hold about 4kgs of mandarins. You can also ‘hire’ scissors for $5, which is refunded when you return them, and they come in adult and kids sizes. We have found it works best to get the scissors as you are a lot less likely to damage the mandarins when picking them.
NOTE: no prams are allowed in the orchard.
Apart from eating the mandarins au naturel, we love making moreish mandarin cupcakes – using a recipe we adapted from Nigella Lawson for clementine cake.
They also sometimes have limes and lemons to pick. Plus you can purchase honey and eggs from the farm shop. Unfortunately the pick your own mushrooms and mushroom growing bags haven’t been available since 2017.
There are sheep and chickens on the farm, which is a kid pleaser. And if you go in spring, later in the season, you will most likely get to meet some new baby sheep and ducks.
For a $1, you can get a good size bag of animal feed.
But best to feed them first thing though as it doesn’t take them long to get full.
There’s plenty of free on-site parking in a open field next to the orchard. It can get boggy after rain so take extra care. Walking over the little bridge to the farm, you will see the animals, picnic shelter and farm shop.
There are port-a-loos and lots of grass to spread a picnic rug out on. You can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy here or head back to Wisemans Ferry for a bite to eat. Keep in mind that there are no BBQs, but you can bring your own small one.
There’s also no power/electricity available at the farm so it’s CASH ONLY. The nearest ATM is back at Wisemans Ferry at least a 15min drive away.
The farm gates open for the 2020 season from 30th May. And depending on fruit and picking levels, may stay open until October. The farm is open every Saturday and Sunday (and public holidays) 10am to 4pm during the season.
Finding Watkins Family Farm
Head north along Old Northern Road until just before Wisemans Ferry, where you turn right and travel along Singleton Road for about 10kms.
Places of Interest Nearby
- Fords Farm – another farm you can pick your own mandarins
- Wisemans Ferry Inn – review by Little Munch
- Wisemans Ferry Park
- Punt at Wisemans Ferry, which is free and you can travel on by foot or car.