Winter in Sydney is the perfect time for mandarin picking! If you’re keen for a fun family day out, fruit picking is an activity that kids of all ages will love. Enjoy a drive through the country, and you’ll return home with bags of fresh, juicy mandarins and enough Vitamin C to see you through winter! North Shore Mums Founder, Rachel, visited Watkins Family Farm on a Sunday in June.
It’s the season for mandarin picking! On a sunny winter’s day, we enjoyed a lovely drive through the countryside to Watkins Orchard on the Hawkesbury River (about 10-15 mins drive from Wisemans Ferry).
Watkins Family Farm opened for mandarin picking at the end of May, so now is the perfect time for it! The trees are full of mandarins (and there are hundreds of trees!), so you’re guaranteed to go home with buckets full of citrus delights.
What to expect at Watkins Farm
When you arrive in your car, there’s a huge open field for parking. You’ll be directed to a spot to park your car.
Pop on your gumboots (the fields can be a little muddy), fill your pockets with essentials like keys, cash & mobile phone (as bags aren’t allowed) and head over the little bridge to the entry. There’s a large toilet just past the entry, which you might be needing after the long drive!
Then head over to the cashier where you’ll pay for your buckets. With three kids, we knew there would be fights if they didn’t get one each, so we ended up buying three large buckets for mandarin picking. We opted for the large buckets ($20 each) as the small ones for $10 are much smaller. Yep, that’s a lot of mandarins, and although we will do our best to eat them, we will most certainly be giving some away to friends and family.
With your empty buckets in hand, it’s time to walk into the fields for mandarin picking. There are rows and rows of mandarins. I didn’t count them, but at a guess I’d say there was at least 30-40 rows, and each row had around 50 trees. According to the Watkins Farm website, they have over 2000 mandarin trees. The trees were absolutely bursting with mandarins, so there will be plenty to pick for many weeks to come.
The actual mandarin picking doesn’t take too long, but it’s lovely to wander around and soak up the country air.
When you’re finished picking, you’ll head back to the main gate and go to tables where you transfer your buckets of mandarins into plastic bags (which they provide).
The taste? Delicious! They’re super sweet and have no pips. We’ve been working our way through the first bucket since Sunday, and every one has been perfect.
There’s also a few farm animals at Watkins Family Farm, and you can buy a bag of animal feed for $1 per bag.
If you’re looking to make a day of it, head to Wisemans Ferry while you’re out that way! It’s about 10-15 minutes drive on the way in (or out!) of Watkins Farm. We stopped by the Wisemans Inn Hotel for a fabulous pub lunch afterwards. The food was excellent, and there’s a huge grassed area for kids to run around and play. Highly recommend!
Tips for mandarin picking at Watkins Farm
- Pack scissors for snipping the mandarins! Not essential, but makers it easier to fill your bucket. The other option is to twizzle the mandarin to get it off the branch.
- Pack cash! There is no signal for EFTPOS, so it’s cash only at Watkins Family Farm. Since Covid-19, I haven’t had any cash in my wallet, so it’s important to remember this before you go.
- Wear gum boots (or old shoes).
- Get there early! Mandarin picking is a very popular activity, so set your alarm early at get there at 10am when it opens. When we left at 11.30am, the car park was reaching capacity and getting much busier.
- No bags or backpacks are allowed in the orchard (no doubt to prevent people from filling their bags!), so pop your essentials in your pocket before leaving the car.
Where else can you go mandarin picking?
- Kathleen Groves Farm – oranges, limes, lemons, mandarins
- Ford’s Farm – mandarins, citrus
- Anderson Farm – mandarins, oranges
- Wyuna Farms – oranges
Essential Details: Mandarin Picking at Watkins Family Farm
- Address: 1006 Singleton Road, Laughtondale
- Getting there: Watkins Family Farm is about a 1 hour 15 minute drive from Wahroonga via Old Northern Road (via Glenorie).
- Cost: $10 for a small bucket | $20 large bucket. All adults must purchase one bucket each. Cash only
- Open: Weekends, 10am – 4pm. Last bucket sales 3.30pm