Cherry Season Has Started — Pick Your Own on the Victorian Cherry Trail

victorian cherry trail

After a challenging season last year, marred by the effects of a severe La Niña weather phenomenon, Victorian cherry farmers are gearing up for a bountiful 2023 season. The orchards are currently adorned with bright red cherry blossoms and the buzz among farmers is that this year’s harvest is shaping up to be a great one.

Typically, the Victorian Cherry season kicks off in early November, with production hitting its stride by the middle of the month and continuing until well after Christmas. This extended season aligns perfectly with the festive period, making cherries a delightful addition to feasts and a cherished gift option — not to mention the perfect excuse for a road trip.

When Did the Victorian Cherry Trail Start?

“The Cherry Trail brochure goes back to 2004, so it has been going for nearly 20 years,” says Alison Jones, President of The Victorian Cherry Association.

It was formed not only to promote the commencement of the cherry season but also to give consumers the opportunity to buy ‘farm fresh’ straight from the orchard.

victorian cherry trail
Photo: Cherry Hill Orchards

How Do You Know When the Cherries Are Ripe?

In September, Victorian cherry growers introduce bees into their orchards to aid in pollination — a crucial step in the cherry production process. Bees pollinate each of the cherry blossom flowers, eventually giving rise to the delicious cherries that we all eagerly await when the season officially commences in November.

There are over 80 cherry varieties cultivated in Australia. Along the Victorian Cherry Trail, you’ll have the chance to sample these varieties, including Stella, Regina, and Sweet Georgia, among others. These heart-shaped cherries have a dark ruby-red skin, with a sweetness and richness that can elevate any summer gathering, particularly a Christmas celebration.

“Look for cherries with a deep mahogany hue, as they’re bursting with sweetness and juiciness, the hallmarks of a perfectly ripe cherry,” says Jones.

When the cherry-picking season has started, you can be sure that the cherries are ripe and ready to go!

What Do I Need to Bring With Me?

Jones advises to bring a sun hat, sunscreen, and lots of friends.

On some farms, you can purchase delicious cherry snacks from the on-farm store; otherwise, pack a picnic to have under the cherry trees. Refer to the Cherry Trail brochure and websites to see what each farm offers.

victorian cherry trail
Photo: Cherry Hill Orchards

How Long Is the Victorian Cherry Trail?

According to Jones, the cherry trail can be explored in a single day, especially if you choose to visit the multiple orchards nestled in the Yarra Valley. However, she admits, making a weekend out of it is your best bet.

“Start in the Yarra Valley and either continue to the upper Goulburn Valley in Yarck or straight across to the Macedon Ranges — where there is so much to see.”

Click here for a list of cherry farms. 

Related: 5 Yarra Valley Wineries to Visit So You Can Truly Say You Ticked Off Yarra Valley

Related: Mountains, Valleys and a Pink Lake, Oh My! 6 of the Best Road Trips in Victoria

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