Well this is a special experience! Aside from learning something about where our food comes from and all you can eat strawberries, the hanging strawberry plants are a gorgeous (and delicious) sight. Definitely not what I was expecting when we headed off to pick our own strawberries at Berrylicious Strawberries for the first time. And we had so much fun that we have returned a good number of times since. Actually my boys only ever want to eat the strawberries from Berrylicious Strawberries now!
Berrylicious Strawberries is the closest dedicated strawberry picking farm to Sydney. Summer is the peak strawberry picking season and session times are listed on their Facebook page. The next pick your own sessions are on Sunday 13th January 2019. BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL and can be made online here.
The Berrylicious Strawberries farm is in Thirlmere, near Picton and it takes us about an hour to get there from Rydalmere. About 5mins before the farm, is the NSW Rail Museum and it’s worth a visit if you have train loving kids. The museum is open all year round, except Christmas Day and Good Friday. And is well known for their Day Out With Thomas (the tank engine) weekends held about every 2 months.
Now unlike most other pick your own farm visits, you can’t just rock up to Berrylicious Strawberries. Bookings are essential. They announce pick your own sessions on their Facebook page and you can now book online. And while it can be difficult to get a spot, the upside is that there’s a limited number of people picking at the same time. Making it a much more pleasant experience for families and you know there will be strawberries available to pick.
On arriving at the farm, you will be greeted by a staff member shortly after entering the driveway. They will check your booking and this is where you pay the entry fee. And I believe it is cash only here. There is parking further along, near the strawberry sheds.
When you arrive, a staff member will explain how things work and show you in groups how to pick the strawberries. And you will be asked to grab a shallow, large tray to collect the strawberries you want to take home. The tray reduces the chance of the strawberries being squashed, like would happen if you collected them in a bag. But you still need to make sure not to pile them up to high within the box.
The strawberries are grown in open sheds, hanging in trays from the ceiling at about 1.5m off the ground. The great thing about this – apart from it looking gorgeous – is that you can pick them rain, hail or shine. But it also means that the ground underneath is muddy from soil and water run off. So gumboots or old shoes you don’t mind getting dirty are a MUST!
There are large sturdy stepping boxes for the kids to use to reach the strawberries. And depending on how tall you are, you may need to bend over to get around inside the shed.
The staff are extremely friendly and helpful and there are a few inside the strawberry shed to answer any further questions while picking and to give pointers. There is an art to picking the strawberries and knowing which ones are good to eat while picking and which are better to take home.
It usually takes us (2 adults and 2 preschoolers) about an hour to pick 4.5kgs, plus eat probably another kilo. And by the end, we are always a lot better at picking and spotting the sweeter strawberries.
What works best for us is putting our tray on the ground and giving the kids strawberries to place in the tray. The tray is very large and we find it difficult to pick and hold the tray at the same time. Even with a large step to stand on, my 3yr was just a bit too short to reach the strawberries to pick them properly. But he was very happy collecting the ones I gave him in his hat and putting them in the tray. Now at 4 and 5yrs, they can both pick their own.
Once you have had your full of strawberries and picked enough to take home, you just head back out of the shed to Farmer Asaf, the lovely, friendly owner. He will weight your strawberries and give you containers to pack them into. The strawberries you take home are priced at $10 a kilo and they have EFTPOS facilities here. Our kids found packing them up just as fun as the picking the strawberries.
Important things to keep in mind:
- Wear gumboots or old shoes no matter the weather as the ground is always muddy from water dripping down from the strawberry trays.
- It can be slippery under the strawberry plants. It’s a lot less slippery along the edge of the shed and also easier to stand upright there.
- Bring your entry fee in cash.
- You can eat all the strawberries you want while on the farm.
- Some strawberries are better to eat straight away and others are better to take home to eat later. It’s too hard to explain this here, but ask one of the lovely staff members.
- There are EFTPOS facilities at the farm to pay for the strawberries you picked to take home.
- There is a port-a-loo toilet at the farm or one at the playground you pass on your way through Thirlmere.
This is one of the more expensive pick your own experiences nearby to Parramatta. But it does depend on the size of your group and ages of your kids. Each person 10 years and over is $10, kids 3-10yrs are $5 and little ones 2yrs and under are free. You can eat as many strawberries as you like while on the farm! It is then $10 per kilo for the strawberries you have picked to take home.
For me the cost was $15 and I am sure we ate about half a kilo of strawberries. Plus then bought a few kilos, saving about $3 on each kilo compared with what we could buy them at the likes of Woolworths and Coles. So I found it cost neutral and the value of the experience for the kids was huge.
Strawberries are grown and harvested year round at Berrylicious Strawberries, though the peak season is summer. The farm is not open all the time and only opens when there is enough fruit to be picked. During school holidays they generally open once or twice a week. And outside of school holidays, they will occasionally open on either a Saturday or Sunday.
BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL. You need to regularly check their Facebook page for upcoming picking sessions, and we generally share them to the ParraParents Facebook page as well. And you need to book quickly once announced as spots fill VERY fast!
Finding Berrylicious Strawberries Farm
The farm is located about an hour south west of Parramatta, passed Campbelltown, near Picton. And 5mins further along West Parade from the NSW Rail Museum.
NOTE: This Berrylicious Strawberries is NOT associated with Berrylicious Strawberries Queensland (involved in the terrible contamination situation a few months ago) and they DO NOT sell their strawberries to Woolworths.
Places of Interest Nearby
We usually stop about mid-way, on the way to Berrylicious Strawberries, for a play at Birriwa Reserve. It has a great outdoor playground with a fab mix of play equipment for babies through to teenagers.
But if the weather is hot when you go strawberry picking, then we definitely recommend checking out the new water playground at Curry Reserve in Camden!
Other places to stop at when visiting Berrylicious Strawberries include:
- NSW Rail Museum
- The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mt Annan – they regularly run events and activities for kids and there is also a playground and cafe
- Picton for lunch and a browse of the shops