He knew that look, the determined one that popped up more frequently than he would have liked. “We can pick our own berries on the way home – and it isn’t even that much out of the way – we can leave a bit earlier and just have to take this road instead of that road and then…..” I trailed off, knowing that he would oblige, albeit with the requisite sigh and eye roll.
RJ had gifted me a long weekend away in Bowral for Christmas [um, 2011, yeah…] so one fine Friday afternoon about a year ago we ducked out early to head into the Southern Highlands of NSW.
The weekend began in style with a stunning dinner at Biota that evening, before making our way back to the B&B in the kind of darkness you only encounter in the country. Saturday was a white-grey day that begged to be taken at a very leisurely pace so we wandered around the quaint town, indulged RJ’s Cricket obsession at the Bradman Museum and generally acted lazy.
But on Sunday it was time to head home so after a morning of sitting in the sun reading the paper and enjoying a wonderful breakfast at Wild Food Cafe we were on the road back to the big smoke.
However as luck would have it, as we were checking out I had struck up a conversation with the lady at reception… when she uttered the phrase ‘pick your own berries’ there was no way we weren’t stopping on our way home.
The Montrose House and Berry Farm is a heritage listed property in Sutton Forrest NSW, approximately 20 minutes south-south-west of Bowral. The picturesque 150 year old estate can be hired for everything from corporate events to weddings and there is a cottage available for short term getaway rental…
…but we were there for something much more enticing – berry picking!
As we bumped down the long drive I wriggled in my seat like an excited child – berriesberriesberriesIwonderwhatkindofberriestheywillhave. We collected our berry picking containers from the little shop front and made our way through a fairytale wood.
An open hillside beckoned us through the trees. Dotted with thick berry bushes and covered with nets to protect the plump fruit from pesky birds, we had been instructed to make our way up to the furthest patch. I couldn’t help but pause to snap a few pics of the perfect countryside and simply breathe.
But it was swelteringly hot and we had berries to pick so in we went.
The entry fee into the berry patches is $12.50 per person and that allows you to pick a half kilo of berries. If you are a bit overzealous additional berries are charged at $2.50 per 100 g – significantly less than what you’d pay in the shops and you get to choose the ones you want, everybody wins.
As it was mid to late Feb we caught the tail end of the lush blackberries and even managed to find a few raspberries hiding in well-combed rows. At just over a perfect half kilo each we got back on the road with enough berries to eat, bake with and freeze… or so I thought.
I’d love to share a new berry recipe with you – perhaps a pie or a cake or some ice cream – but some how every single berry in that kilo was eaten straight from the fridge in about three days! So for the time being lets play the here’s-something-I-prepared-earlier game with a slice of Paleo Coconut & Berry Cobbler.
Berry season in the Southern Highlands generally runs December to February, and sadly it is almost over for another year. But if you ever find yourself down around Bowral it is worth that little extra bit to go and visit Montrose!
Montrose Berry Farm is open for picking from Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm during December, January and February. Out-of-season you can probably pickup a variety of preserved goodies as well as frozen berries from the farm shop, just make sure to check out their site for the opening times.
MONTROSE BERRY FARM – SUTTON FOREST, SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS
SUTTON FOREST, NSW 2577, AUSTRALIA
Oh, and that sigh and eye roll from my driver? Both were easily appeased with fresh berries… well until I insisted on stopping for a leisurely afternoon tea in Berrima, but that’s another post for another day…
Have you ever picked your own fruit and what is your favourite berry treat? I have to say, I do love a good slice of berry pie!