Recently, in between all the weekend activities and birthday parties, we managed to squeeze in a family day out to Watkins Family Farm for some mandarin picking. Watkins Farm is a family-owned farm just over an hour north of Sydney’s lower north shore, and is a ‘pick your own’ mandarin farm. They also sell other citrus fruits as well as free-range eggs and honey. Farm animals, such as chickens roam the property, and sheep enclosed within fences keep kids happily entertained.
This is actually our 2nd time visiting Watkins Family Farm, with the first time being 4 years ago! This year, we went in late July and it was quite late in the season. Many trees in the orchard were already bare from prior visitors coming to pick mandarins. Luckily, there were still enough for the loads of visitors that we saw pouring in throughout the day. We arrived early, at about 10.30am so it wasn’t too busy yet. We found a section of trees with many mandarins still left on them and the kids were so excited to start filling their buckets. So, there is a proper method of harvesting the mandarins. You grip the mandarin and twist until the stem breaks off. This way, you are left with the whole peel still encasing the mandarin. Scissors can be hired to snip the mandarins off the trees too.
After an hour or so, we filled our 5 buckets of mandarins, 3 large and 2 smaller buckets, and then proceeded to bag them up and have our picnic lunch at the tables. Chickens were running all over the place, and Mr. 3 was more interested in feeding them his lunch than eating. Afterwards, we stayed behind to feed the sheep with animal feed and the kids were so excited to have them eat right off their hands.
Useful Notes and Tips:
- Opening hours are every weekend from 10am-4pm during the season
- Entry fee is free. The cost of the large bucket is $12.50 and small bucket is $7.50. Scissors are available for hire with a $5 refundable deposit. All cash only
- There is plenty of parking onsite
- No bags are allowed inside the orchard. Keep your valuables at home or safely secured in the car
- Avoid travelling on Laughtondale Gully Road. Your GPS will likely send you this way. We avoided this road the first time we came 4 years ago by traveling on Old Northern Road all the way into Wisemans Ferry, then turning right into Singleton Road when you see the township. But this time, we inadvertently followed the GPS and ended up right on Laughtondale Gully Road – which was long, windy and narrow. We instantly knew we had gone down the wrong road but nonetheless, we made it out and linked back to Singleton road.
- There are only port-a-loos for toilets – go early to avoid queues
- Bring a rug to have a picnic on the grass or there is a sheltered area with tables. There is also a food truck onsite
So 2nd time ’round at Watkins Farm, this time with 3 kids rather than 2 – it was still a fun family day out for all of us. The mandarins were as juicy and sweet as we remembered. Mr. 5, who was originally not a big fan of mandarins is now a convert! Miss 7, our fruit and veggie lover is asking for them for school every single day. And, Mr. 3 – well he was more interested in harvesting them than eating them. We have already given bags away to friends and family, but it looks like we still have many to last us for the coming weeks!
Watkins Family Farm
Address: 1006 Singleton Road, Laughtondale
Phone: 0418 233 466 (Mark Watkins)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ann Watkins)
* Want to read more about our Big School Kids family adventures? Check out our most recent family vacation to Mount Selwyn here.