Nothing brings back childhood memories like big red juicy cherries, particularly for Costa. He remembers the sensational taste of the first cherries of the season and so attending the 60th National Cherry Festival was an opportunity not to be missed.
The National Cherry Festival is held every year at Young, about 375 km west of Sydney. The area is renowned for its stone fruit, particularly cherries, and has the perfect growing conditions with great soil and an ideal climate.
Cherry orchardist Khodr Hamdan, originally from Lebanon, has 2000 trees and grows over 10 different varieties of sweet cherry Prunus avium. He says the only way to pick cherries is to ensure you leave the stem on. Each of Khodr’s trees produce 30kg of cherries every year. He knows how each one has been planted, grafted, and which side is the best for picking the fruit.
Austrian immigrant, Nicole Jasprizza was the first commercial cherry grower in the region and his great great granddaughter Arna Hay is still following the family tradition. “I am fifth generation and if our grandchildren have an interest in the cherry orchard and become orchardists they will be seventh generation growers,” she says.
Arna and Ian Hay have been running Cherry Haven Orchids for 35 years. Ian says that cherries do well in Young because of the ancient soil. “It’s made up of decomposed granite that’s millions of years old. It’s also well drained. And that’s exactly what cherries need because if their fine hair roots stay wet and drown that kills the tree.”
Young also has a perfect climate for cherry growing. Ian says: “We have a high number of chill hours in winter, which makes the trees go into full dormancy. This is followed by dry spring weather, which means no rain damage on the fruit. And then in summer heat finishes and hardens the tree before it‘s dormant again in winter.”
• Cherries are members of the prunus genus, making them relatives of other stone fruits such as plums, apricots and peaches. They originated in Asia Minor and it’s believed they were first cultivated by the Greeks.
• Young produces many varieties of cherry. But three with great flavour are:
‘Van’ - an early season variety, renowned for its crispiness, and which tastes almost like an apple with a real explosion of sweet flavour,
‘Sunburst’ - is a classic cherry, big and round, with great flavour and a little softer than van, but with a beautiful velvety taste.
‘Ron’s Seedling’ – is the signature cherry variety of Young, and is black, rich, lush, and beautiful.
• Cherries are considered super fruit and are rich in anti oxidants.
Annual Cherry Festival: December
Young hosts its annual cherry festival each December. Check the website below for specific dates and make a weekend of it. Pick some fresh cherries, watch the street parade and maybe even compete in a cherry pip spitting competition or cherry pie eating competition. It’s a fun event.
Young Visitor Information Centre
Railway Station, Lovell Street Young NSW 2594
Ph: 02 63823394
Contact: Shannon O’Connor Tourism Manager
385 Olympic Highway North Young
Contact: Ian and Arna Hay
ph: 6382 4023
Fruit Season Nov-Mar 8am-5pm 7 days
Non Fruit Season 8am-5pm Mon-Fri Only
Lot 1 Race Creek Rd Wombat, NSW 2587.
Contact :Khodr Hamdan
Ph: 02 63843239
7am-8pm 7 days/week Nov till Jan