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 recently at Berrylicious Strawberries – the closest dedicated strawberry picking to Sydney.
NOTE: This Berrylicious Strawberries is NOT associated with Berrylicious Strawberries Queensland (involved in the terrible contamination situation) and they DO NOT sell their strawberries to Woolworths.
The Berrylicious Strawberries farm is in Thirlmere, near Picton and it took 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 the next pick your own sessions are likely to be at the end of September/ early October 2018.
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 took us (2 adults and 4 preschoolers) about an hour to pick 4.5kgs, plus eat probably another kilo. And by the end, we were at lot better at picking and spotting the sweeter strawberries. What worked best for us was putting our tray on the ground and giving the kids strawberries to place in the tray. The tray is very large and we found 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.
Once you have had your full of strawberries and picked enough to take home, you just head back out of the shed to 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.
- It can be slippery under the strawberry plants. It is 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 is 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.
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 4-10yrs are $5 and little ones 3yrs 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. However 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 5 mins further along West Parade from the NSW Rail Museum.
Places of Interest Nearby
We stopped about mid-way on the way to Berrylicious Strawberries for a play at Birriwa Reserve. In 2016, a new outdoor youth space opened here and we had heard great things about the playground. It is just near the Australian Botanic Gardens and Campbelltown, opposite the Mt Annan Leisure Centre.
While labelled a youth space and a playground for teenagers, I think it is well suited to 3yrs+ and got the thumbs up from my boys. There is also a shaded playground, next to the tennis courts, that is for little ones. Plus toilets and picnic facilities.
And if you are looking to make a day of your trip to Berrylicious Strawberries, then you can also stop at:
- 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