What I love about spending Christmas at home in Australia is the hot weather and the chance to explore. I’ve never known Christmas any other way because I love Australian summers filled with lots of foodie daytrips, beach swims and an abundance of fresh summer berries popping up everywhere. I’ve always adored eating beautifully plump berries and they’re mandatory when hosting any meal for an Australian Christmas Day lunch.
The key is to create a crimson display filled with all types of juicy berries – raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and, my favourite, cherries. When I drooled over Vegan Life Magazine’s Christmas recipes this month, I was happily reminded of so many Christmas moments when a berry platter will appear on any festive table.
Once the summer berry season does start in Australia, so too does the curious wonderment in picking berries yourself. It’s the perfect excuse to plan a daytrip to any one of these berry-picking destinations in Victoria.
Blue Hills Berries & Cherries in Silvan
What is brilliant about berry farms in Victoria is that many are still family-owned and loved. Blue Hills & Cherries offers one of those farms where family bonds intertwine with a love for food and a sustainable approach to growing. The Chapman family have lived in Silvan since 1894, growing these delicate, much-loved fruits with as much sweat and love that’s required. The farm is well-known for its “u-pick” approach for berry and cherry lovers, available from November to April between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
An entry fee for adults starting from $12 and kids starting from $6 is payable upon arrival depending on which fruit you wish to pick, and includes a weight of fruit to take home. Entry fees also include any cheeky tastings you enjoy as you wander and pick. It’s advised to check their website and read the “fruit report” the night before you head out to ensure fruit availability and avoid disappointment. If you want to stock up, then take a cold esky and purchase frozen berries that are ready to transport.
Travel to 27 Parker Road in Silvan to gain entry to the berry farm and 30 Chapman Road Silvan for access to the cherry orchard. Blue Hills Berries & Cherries is approximately one hour east of Melbourne’s CBD and best reached by car. Phone: 03 9737 9400.
Bellstack Strawberry Farm in Kialla West
Heading more inland Victoria will take you to Kialla West where Bellstack Strawberry Farm grows its lush strawberries for travellers keen to pick their own. Bellstack Strawberry Farm is nestled on the banks of the Goulburn River in Victoria’s famous fruit bowl region. As you arrive, you’ll immediately absorb the serene surrounds; walk along the driveway to admire the property’s rustic shed and the rows of lush strawberry plants. Plump, tasty and sweet strawberries are grown using natural methods without chemicals, giving this quaint farm its country charm.
Drive the car from Melbourne’s central business district to Bellstack Strawberry Farm 80 Bennetts Road Kialla West Victoria 3631. Phone: 03 5823 1324. Bellstack is open daily from 10.00am to 5.00pm from October to June. It’s advisable to phone ahead to check opening hours, especially over the summer months. Check their website for special Christmas holiday opening hours too.
Tuckerberry Hill Farm in Drysdale
Heading coast-side is a familiar Christmas past time for Australians and a trip to the Bellarine Peninsula can satisfy your yearning for the sea as well as blueberries. Tuckerberry Hill Farm in Drysdale is anchored by nearby seaside towns such as Portarlington and St Leonard; started by one of Australia’s pioneering blueberry farmers Margaret Tucker. The day-tripper in you will relish in a lengthy berry picking excursion which can be drawn out by exploring this windswept peninsula that’s brimming with local produce.
Take the time to pick your own organic blueberries that are grown free from chemicals and sprays while taking in hilltop views of the region. Tuckerberry Hill Farm’s season runs from December to March though it’s best to call ahead of time of your departure to ensure crops are ready for picking. Entry is free and you pay for what you pick by the kilogram. Pre-picked blueberries, both fresh and frozen, are also available to purchase.
Travel by car to the Bellarine Peninsula for one to one and a half hours from Melbourne’s central business district to Tuckerberry Hill Farm. 35 Becks Road Drysdale Victoria. Phone: 03 5251 3468.
Disclaimer: I was supplied with a free digital copy of Issue 11 of Vegan Life Magazine.
What are your plans involving summer berries this Christmas? You can grab a copy of Issue 11 of Vegan Life Magazine for culinary Christmas inspiration then plot your dream berry daytrip adventure! Subscription and subscription packages can be purchased too.