If you are looking for something different to do for the afternoon why not pick some strawberries! ?
Under an hour’s drive from Mackay you and your family can experience local strawberry picking at the beautiful Ballantyne’s Strawberry Farm! Head north on the highway and follow the signs. Turn west at Calen and follow the road almost to the end past gorgeous rolling farms and flowing creeks and you will arrive at the family farm.
Scroll all the way down to see the Video!
Parking is easy and access is hassle free and appropriate for prams, strollers and wheelchairs.
The first step is to purchase your empty punnets. One big punnet costs $10 and it is $5 for each additional. So for my 3 older kids, it was only $20 to get picking! You are then guided to the picking rows and have a quick talk by the farm hand about how to select the best strawberries.
Ballantyne’s is a working farm and most of the crop is reserved for commercial purposes but you do have plenty of strawberries on offer in the 4 or 5 rows designated to the public.
How to Pick a Strawberry
Make sure the colour is the darkest red and it goes all the way to the calyx (the green bit). Strawberries do not ripen after picking so only get the ripest to ensure the sweetest flavour. Leaving the calyx on, gently pinch and snap the stem to remove the strawberry from the plant. With the calyx in place, the fruit will last a little longer. Fill your punnet to the brim and then eat!
How Long Will it Take?
We spent about half an hour cruising up and down the rows of strawberry plants and collecting only the best. Then it was another 40 minutes or so while we ate them! There is a fun jumping castle there for the little kids to enjoy (under 7s only) and a cafe serving coffee, strawberry milkshakes, crepes and tarts. (The milkshakes are amazing!)
So, with an hour driving each way and a little over an hour at the farm, add a pit stop at the banana farm waterhole for a swim if the weather permits, it’s a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Keep reading to find your directions to the secret waterhole….
When to go
Strawberry season runs over the Winter months and picking is open from 8 am to 4 pm Wednesday to Sunday. We were there around 1pm and it was pretty hot. Going up first thing would be perfect to avoid the hot sun and having scones for morning tea! They also sell homemade strawberry jam.
Who is it For?
This was a really fun activity for the kids to enjoy, but the parents loved it too! I think any age will enjoy local strawberry picking. From age 1 to 101!
EFTPOS and toilet facilities are available on site but there is zero phone reception.
Strawberry picking was a really different and interesting way to spend an afternoon with your family. It is one of those things that we had been meaning to do for ages and I am so glad we finally went. It didn’t cost too much and you got to eat the most delicious fresh strawberries. The drive itself is really pretty after the Calen turn off and as a bonus, the secret waterhole is just amazing.
The lovely Ballantyne family have had the farm for 23 years and now cultivate over 50,000 strawberry plants with plans to expand to blueberries and raspberries in the near future. They nearly shut their operations down over the last couple of years and the farm is actually for sale so it is an important and genuine business that we should be supporting in our local area so we don’t lose it.
Go and visit your local strawberry picking farm today!