There were a few of us and it was decided that Watkins Farm was the destination. A fruit farm open to the public so we could pick our own fruit. Mandarins, straight from the trees. At first, I didn’t know where this place was, but that did not bother me. I wanted the experience—of going to a farm and picking few fruits. I was happy to tag along, and I was so glad that I did tag along. It was a fabulous sunny day and perfect for outdoors activities. Not to mention, Wisemans Ferry, was a great destination too!
Watkins Family farm as the name suggests, is a family owned and managed farm since 1836. They grow cumquats, mushrooms and different varieties of mandarins. During weekends and public holidays, they are open for fruit picking. This is where you get a bucket a scissor and you get to roam the orchards of mandarins and pick your own fruits. This orchard, is situated in Wisemans Ferry. It’s a town North of Sydney, New South Wales. It’s about seventy five kilometres drive. In my case, a bit longer. It took about one hour and twenty minutes drive.
If you use Google maps, as I did to make my way, it took me to what I call a back end driving—I went through Richmond, Market town, Wilberforce, Maroota before hitting Old Northern Road. It was quite a scenic route. Driving through towns and on this day, it was quite foggy which created a great ambience on the road and the green pastures.
Google maps, will ask you to take a turn at Laughtondale Gully Drive—as most maps, will try and get you there by it’s closest route. If you are game, then I’d say, go for it, take the Laughtondale Gully Drive. This is a five kilometre dirt road and only has one lane—but it’s a two way road. It takes you to windy road and you pass through a hill.
On this day, the weather was quite nice, but! When I went through the gully, the road was a little wet—it feels like the road was slippery when you look at it. But it actually wasn’t. I would take this road, if I wanted to get there faster—but it’s a road, that I am not too comfortable with, especially when you have an oncoming traffic. One of you literally have to stop and give way. Whilst I have no problem with giving way, the problem I had, is that it’s on a hill and there’s not much room for mistakes. If you move too far to one side you just might end up falling off a cliff!
The better route, would be follow the main road all the way to Wiseman Ferry and turn into Singleton Road. It’s longer, but much, much safer.
Get in there Early!
Watkins Family Farm — opens ten o’clock in the morning. When we got there, I saw a handful of cars, and a huge car park—maybe a size of two football fields. By the time we left the farm an hour and a half later, the car park was full—it was a sale on a busy shopping centre.
Driving out of the farm was busy too! So many cars were still arriving. Driving out on a narrow road, often times, I had to stop and let a group of cars pass through. At one point, I had to let through ten cars and had to patiently wait so I could start driving again.
Entry, during the time when I went, was ten dollars a bucket and one of their conditions were, if you are an adult and you want to gain access to the orchards, then you must get a bucket—even if you are not there to pick fruits. If you really think about it, I could probably get more mandarins if I buy it from the markets—but I wasn’t there to pick up for a bargain, it was the experience of being in a farm and picking a fruit for myself, meet new people and of course, fresh fruit!
Wiseman Ferry, is a valley. Lots of trees, making the air fresh. Whilst picking mandarins, I noticed the strong sweet scent of citrus. It was just natural, it was a farm after all where they grew mandarins.
I felt so relaxed there, that I lost track of time. Being a photographer, I initially focused more on photography before my empty bucket was filled up with mandarins.
Wiseman Ferry town
It is worth mentioning, since I was in Wiseman Ferry, it’s just fitting to take a look at the town itself.
It’s a very small town with one road to get you in and out of town. One busy pub with a balcony that has breath taking view of the valley. It is a place to sit down, have a meal and a drink then go for a walk along the main road onto the punt.
Wisemans Ferry is in the centre of Dharug, Yengo, Cattai and Marramrra national parks and it’s most famous for its waterways. It’s a favourite retreat for us Sydney siders. It was Saturday, when I was there, and the pub that I went to, was buzzing. I noticed there were a lot of riders, the street was buzzing. My first impression was, it’s a popular town! For a minute there, I thought they were locals, but considering the riders there and the amount of cars parked on the side streets, I thought this would not be the case. The 2011 consensus, Wisemans Ferry’s population is only 184.
When I spoke to one of the locals and I made a comment that it’s very busy town. The local stated that they are often busy on the weekends as many people pass through this town. She added though, that during the week, it’s like a ghost town. A complete opposite of what I was seeing—with a population of less than 200, one could expect that.
Wisemans Ferry got its name from a former convict Solomon Wiseman . He was a convict transported to the colony in 1806 for stealing 704 pounds o Brazil wood who received a land grant from the Governor Macquarie in 1817. He then provided a ferry service in 1827 to transport produce from the crossing of Hawkesbury river.
To this day, the punt is still in operation. It runs 24/7 and it’s free to use. I’ve never experienced my car on a punt and being taken across a river. This was great opportunity, but my car was parked in a neat spot, that I thought it would be troublesome. This makes it the oldest ferry crossing that that’s still in operation here in New South Wales and possibly Australia. Also note, Webbs Creek which is on the other side of Wisemans Ferry has the same operations, but considering they are in the same area, I’ve noted them as one operation.
Things to do
Whilst I admit, I barely did anything here. There are many things to do in Wisemans Ferry. There are parks for picnics, golf, walking trails, camping area, a look out, a cruise in Hawkesbury river, arts gallery, historic cemetery, Wisemans ferry car ferries—saw this one and it looks very fun! Pub to dine in—yes, it has a great balcony view! And there are also bushwalking.
Most of these activities I haven’t done. I was only here to mainly experience fruit picking and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Wisemans Ferry and do some of the walks. Perhaps some other time.