Yesterday, we had the brightest idea to spend our first day of the long weekend here in Australia, Mandarin picking. Apparently so did around 200 other people- And so, the game of patience began.
We left Sydney at 10am, aiming to arrive at 11:22am. We arrived on time, but it was the queue of cars trying to get into the farm and find parking that took us until 1pm to actually be in the vicinity of Mandarin Orchards. When we left at 2pm, we saw a 1km queue of cars still trying to get in.
Ok, I will list down things to expect throughout the day, so you can be better prepared if you decide to go there.
- The road leading to Watkins farm is tight, you will see cars going slightly off the road on their side, just so both their vehicles could fit when meeting on the road.
- Coming from Sydney and off the main highway, you will find there are no establishments to stop over for food or toilet. Plan ahead, do your business before leaving home and pack lunch.
- There are no visible parks or bbq area on the way to go there or back. Get ready to eat in the car, or find a grassy spot beside the road.
- You will see a sign to Ford’s Farm, also a Mandarin/Fruit Orchard. Be warned, admission is only by advanced booking and It is said to be closed for 2020 on their website.
- There are small ditches on the road inside the farm, and in the parking lot. Enter and drive at your own risk.
- The farm only accepts CASH. No Atm is available, nearest is at Wisemans Ferry, which is 15 minutes away from the farm.
- The Portaloo toilets inside the farm do not have water to flush the toilet or wash your hands. Be ready for the experience, bring your own toilet paper and sanitiser.
- The orchards are slightly muddy by the heavy foot traffic that day, wear suitable footwear.
- Upon entry, you will find the batch of Mandarin trees near the entrance have been scalped bald. Go further right along to the back (after the division), to find abundant trees teeming with Mandarin fruits.
- I saw on a Tripadvisor a review about Watkins Farms, regarding the demography it attracts. Maybe you want to challenge the majority?
Mandarin Picking in Watkins Farm in Laughtondale (15 minutes from Wiseman Ferry), for 2020 started in May and will be open till October. The type of Mandarins they grow are Hickson and Imperial Mandarins, they have 2000 trees on the farm and are closed during Summer. Usually they allow picnicking on their grounds, but because of the Covid19 they have suspended this access, it’s Pick’n’Go this year.
Entry to the farm is Free, but a compulsory purchase of 1 bucket per adult must be followed. Small buckets are $10, Large buckets for $15. We had a teenager with us, she did not have to purchase a bucket and was allowed in the orchard free of charge. I took the extra step to bring my own scissors and gardening gloves with me, but it was unnecessary as you could easily just twist and pluck the Mandarin from the stem. I did however use my scissors to add a bit of leaves to my Mandarin to look freshly picked. For families with smaller children no prams are allowed to enter the farm, for everyone no bags of any size are allowed in as well. Also, eating the Mandarins in the Orchard are prohibited, due to Covid19. Watkin’s farm provides tables and plastic bags to pack your freshly picked Mandarins before exiting.
When exiting the farm and into the parking lot, there was a tent selling:
- Local Honey: $12 to $15
- Free-range eggs: Pack of 30 pieces for $20
- Fruits (Kaffir lime, oranges, finger limes): $2 to $6
Make sure you bring cash as there are no ATM machines.
Despite the crowd, and the patience game of bright ideas for long-weekends, the experience was memorable. My family enjoyed and took it an opportunity for taking photo-rolls, trying to identify what is a good Mandarin without being able to taste it and avoiding hordes of people to find pockets of secluded Mandarin trees to take more photos of our personal Mandarin picks and ourselves. Because this is the main reason why we came here, right? Right.
Share your pictures in the comment below if you’ve visited the place before, or when you’ve visited the place. Happy picking, and remember patience.
Watkins Family Farm
Address: 1006 Singleton Rd, Laughtondale near Wisemans Ferry NSW
Telephone: 0418 233 466
– Saturdays and Sundays 10am- 4pm (Last entry is at 3:30pm)
Disclaimer: Please note I have not been paid or sponsored to do this review. This write-up is based on my own opinions, research and experience. Pictures used are personally taken, unless stated otherwise. I hope you find it helpful.