Hunter Valley Oranges

posted on: Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Having a crack at orange picking

The haul: super sweet and super juicy

Soon to be on film: Hillsdale owner Harold Harris

I was met at the Hillsdale Orange Orchard by Harold Harris, a strapping 70-year-old and his loyal dog. Or so I thought. Harold assured me that he is pushing 90. 'My birthday is in April!' he chuckled as he handed me a bucket to fill with as many oranges as I could. 'It's a good life; a healthy life,' he said by way of explanation for his phenomenal health. 'And also my wife and I drink a schooner of orange juice every morning!'

Harold's family have run the stunning orchard, home to the famous, super-sweet Bulga oranges for over one hundred years. Their orchard covers five miles now, though there was a time when the property ran for 50 miles into the Wollembi. 'We used to take the horses and go mustering for a week at a time,' he said. 'We had a little hut out there and we'd bring some corn meat and flour in our packs. We'd make damper for ourselves and find a wombat for the dogs!'

His son's family has taken over the full-time management of the orchard and the farmers markets they supply to, but when we visited Harold was alone. 'The whole family's gone to our other property and left me here to do the tractor work!' He joked. Well, I thought that was a joke, but next minute I hear the roar of farm machinery starting up. And true to his word, there was the 89-year-old down in the lower paddock getting to work. What a legend. 

Hillsdale has had quite the interest lately with Vogue Australia using the orange trees as the setting for a 10 page fashion editorial in their September issue. I can understand Vogue's interest. The place is so incredible. But photos cannot fully convey it's huge beauty, so I'm making my first foray into video... my day with Harold, at Hillsdale, in the Hunter is coming soon!

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