After last year’s successful mandarin and mushroom picking up north, we ventured about 1 hour west towards Richmond to the area of Bilpin – famous for its apple and fruit farms! Hawkesbury Harvest is the website I use which lists a whole bunch of ‘pick your own’ fruit farms in Sydney.
First, we went to Pine Crest Orchards, which in early Feb had apples (Jonathan and Golden Delicious) and pears (Packhams). They also had some pre-picked plums and various other fruits. Perhaps we had gone at the wrong time, but a lot of the trees had been picked quite clean or had a lot of fallen fruit around it.
Next, we popped across the road to Bilpin Springs Orchard, hoping to find some peaches and plums. This orchard had a lot more variety, a larger area and were a lot more organised! They had peaches (so-so), plums (delicious and ripe!), two types of nashi pears (very sweet!), oranges (cheap), some apples (not that interested, since we already got lots of apples from Pine Crest), and blueberries (not many left!). The guide was quite knowledgeable – “the peaches are ripe when the crease has almost disappeared and the fruit is swollen up, it doesn’t matter the colour”. We bought a few varieties there (lots of nashi pears), but the people before us bought around $60 and $90 worth of fruit! :O
Afterwards, we went to this popular cafe: Apple Bar!
- Web: http://www.applebar.com.au/
- Address: 2488 Bell’s Line of Road, Bilpin
- Call: 02 4567 0335
- Book: http://www.applebar.com.au/book-a-table.html
- Open: Mon (lunch from 11.30am), Fri, Sat (lunch, dinner from 5.30pm), Sun (all day dining)
It may be a good idea to book during the fruit picking seasons, because they were quite busy when we got there! They had to seat us in the back, which was fine. But the food took a long while to come, and they seemed a bit understaffed as there were several large groups eating at the same time (all after picking fruit!).
Welcome to Apple Bar! Only 1 km or less from the orchards we went to. Here’s their list of drinks and look, a picture of an apple on the wall.
We ordered a number of plates to share. As their menu is seasonal, I can’t look up what each dish we got was. Their website shows a sample menu though:
I haven’t had kangaroo in a while, so this was a nice treat! The meat is cooked very rare, which was good as kangaroo meat is very lean and gets tough if overcooked.
This was ok, nothing that special. But nicely presented.
Some garlic and herb pizza bread to share. We also chose two pizzas:
The pizzas are a bit overpriced at $26 for a six slice pizza. The anchovy pizza was so-so, perhaps a bit too salty for my tastes. But I really liked the smoked ham one. These are woodfired pizzas and they even warn on the menu that ordering over 3 pizzas can cause a kitchen delay as that’s the maximum they can fit in the oven.
We also ordered vietnamese spring rolls (which was two large spring rolls stuffed with vermicelli etc) – $17.
In total, the bill split down to $22 per person excluding drinks, which was pretty good for a variety to share.
Next, we headed down, for dessert, to:
Pie in the Sky
- Web: http://pieintheskybilpin.com/
- Address: 1858 Bell’s Line of Road, Bilpin
This is a convenient little roadhouse stop, which serves savoury and sweet pies, plus fudge, milkshakes, coffees and a variety of other foods. They’ve got a couple of tables inside to probably seat 30-40 people in total.
We ordered their apple pie, which is $15 for eat in with a serve of ice cream and $10 for takeaway. It’s a large pie and splits well between six people.
Opinion? The pie is okay – perhaps a bit too sweet as I’m used to eating tart apple pies. The pastry is also a bit chewy. But I guess it comes down to individual preference of pastry and flavour.
What else is around:
- Bilpin Markets are on every Saturday (9am-3pm) from Bilpin District Hall, Bells Line of Road, Bilpin: cute but small
- Bilpin Fruit Bowl is another pick your own farm, but there’s quite a few in Bilpin, which aren’t listed online