Fruit straight from the grower is worth a road trip! The Dandenong Ranges is ‘Destination Food Bowl’ for those in search of the juiciest, the best and the freshest. Particularly during the summer months, the U-Pick region of the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley is all there for the tasting – and all within a one-hour drive from Melbourne.
Bring your baskets, pack a cooler bag, and taste, buy and take home fruit just like you remember. Your shopping list is the ABC of great fruit – Abundant, Bountiful and Completely yummy!
The first stop, Yarra Valley Gateway Estate – open all year round with seasonal fruits and vegetables from the farmgate. Take a left following the Maroondah Highway just past Lilydale and the Estate will be on the left – a short 5-minute drive.
Double back a few hundred metres and turn left into Killara Rd and head to Boundary Rd – the adventure begins – everything berry is only a short distance away. Cherry season is typically November-December. Here are five cherry and berry growers all within a short drive of each other so set the GPS and explore them all – The Cherry Boys (Wandin North), CherryHill Orchards (Wandin East), Jay Berries (Wandin East), Blue Hill Berries and Cherries (Silvan) and Chappies (Silvan). Look for the signs and sample your way – many farm gates also have jams, beverages, cafes and other products that feature their succulent produce. While cherries have a short season, there are many other fruits on offer that can be picked and enjoyed from October through to April so look for strawberries, boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries, bayberries and more!
Return back the way you came to the Warburton Highway and head towards Woori Yallock. Rayner’s Orchard (header image above) is a short drive and even in the winter season, has seasonal fruit to delight and inspire. Follow the signs and turn off on the highway into real farmland, all year round more than 400 fruits will be waiting to be discovered for the first time and many old favourites too! With a café, nursery, workshops and tractor rides, this destination is worth a day trip alone.
Another 20 minutes drive along the Warburton Highway (towards Warburton) Strawberry Springs is a delightful way to finish a fruity day. Follow the signs and turn off in Millgrove, cross the Yarra River and enjoy succulent, just-picked-that-morning strawberries. When it’s time for a walk, head up Dee Rd to the O’Shannassy Aqueduct walking and cycling trail. There are magnificent views across the valley to enjoy and an easy wander out and back as far as you please.
From here the trip back to Melbourne is an easy retrace on the map. Homeward bound with the bounty of the season!
Between April and October, some farm gates close during the off season. However, Yarra Valley Gateway Estate and Rayner’s Orchard are open year-round and are an easy 25-minutes drive from one another.
Towns along the way: Coldstream, Wandin, Silvan, Seville, Woori Yallock, Millgrove
Distance: approx. 50 km
Time: Spend the day – depends on how many stops you make
Terrain: Sealed roads, some unsealed, easy drive in farmland and on highway
Note: Farm gates will have varied opening hours. Check website for official season-opening times, which can vary according to the weather.