2 December 2022

Hilltops region prepares to welcome thousands for cherry season

| Edwina Mason
Start the conversation

Pip the Cherry is always popular with the masses during the annual National Cherry Festival at Young, which kicks off this Friday 2 December. Photo: Hilltops Tourist Information Centre.

Later this week the Hilltops town of Young will be celebrating its crowning glory – the cherry.

For us – the cherry harvest marks the start of summer and a beckoning Christmas – where we see farmers far and wide reaping the fruits of their labours of the past 12 months.

And while the cherry takes top billing for popularity, the stone fruits of the region – peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots – plus strawberries, figs and the occasional loquat are also on the menu, as are the grain crops of canola, wheat and barley.

Our garden of delights attracts thousands to the town and Lachlan Edwards of the Hilltops Tourist Information Centre says this year has been no different, with the phone running hot with inquiries.

“We’ve had calls from everywhere – obviously mostly NSW – and mostly Sydney, and many of the callers are asking about the roads, the impact of flooding on the crops and when the best time is to come out,” Lachlan said.

READ ALSO Quest for perfect cherry results in podium finish for Chris

The answer to that is that all roads leading to Young are OK – just take care. There’s been little damage to the crops and any time between now and Christmas is perfect.

The influx of visitors to the town include cherry pickers – most from foreign shores – the handful of regulars who zig-zag up and down the east coast following the ripening seasonal fruit crops, and entire families who make their annual pilgrimage to Young to fill their car boots full of produce.

In most years this crescendos to that one weekend of the year that marks the national cherry festival complete with its program of showcase events that keep ’em coming back for more year after year.

Visitors travel from throughout NSW to take part in the popular pick-your-own cherry experience during cherry season at Young. Photo: Hilltops Tourist Information Centre.

The cooler weather of recent months meant slight delays to this year’s harvest – which usually starts in earnest in November – so that means the 2022 festival dovetails beautifully with all orchards, literally bursting with yumminess, ready to open to the public this week.

The 2022 National Cherry Festival will be presented this coming weekend with both time-honoured traditional elements mixed with some fun new activities and attractions.

It kicks off in stellar fashion on Friday 2 December with a huge shebang at Anderson Park – just a block away from the town’s CBD – which is all about live music and, you guessed it, fireworks.

The action continues through to Sunday with the return of the quirky elements of the festival, including the Wilders Bakery cherry pie-eating championships and the Valley Fresh pip spit.

According to Lachlan the committee this year is also bringing some new attractions – with a bit of a rural bent – to please the crowds.

This includes world record-holding whip cracker, Nathan Griggs who performs on Friday night and Saturday, and wood chopping championships on Sunday.

Also scheduled this year are live music, amusement rides, art, photography, a car show, cherry displays, big breakfast, wood chopping, busking, bush poets, working kelpies, massed pipes and drums performance and coronation of the 2022 Cherry Queen, who has also sometimes been a king.

Another highlight is the National Cherry Festival parade – starting at 4 pm on Saturday – which trails down Young’s main street in a spectacular moving feast of colour, movement and music.

The theme of the 2022 parade is “Young at Heart” and prizes are offered to participants in this category, “Best Overall”, or both.

Local businesses, community-based organisations, marching bands, schools, education institutions, classic car clubs, religious organisations, social and hobby groups and individuals are clamouring for a spot to mark the return of a full traditional festival since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Apart from the festival, interest in pick-your-own cherry experiences and the region’s wineries are also drawing inquiries from visitors planning to attend this exciting event, says Lachlan.

The remarkable undulating countryside around the townships of Young, Harden-Murrumburrah, Boorowa and Jugiong sustain over 600 hectares of vines making the Hilltops region home to an array of exciting award-winning wines and rustic cellar doors.

Original vineyards date back to the mid-1970’s when cabernet sauvignon and shiraz were most widely planted, but increasingly attention has focused on the region’s Italian-inspired wines crafted from varieties including prosecco, sangiovese, pinot grigio and nebbiolo.

The region also hosts plantings of alternative varieties including fiano, corvina and rondinella that all thrive on the elevated, well-drained, red granite loam slopes of the region.

So take the time to add a few wineries into the mix.

READ ALSO Judges raise a glass to the gold-winning Italians from the Hilltops

A downloadable program for the 2022 Woolworths National Cherry Festival is now available online.

It is also available on both Hilltops Region and National Cherry Festival’s Facebook pages.

A convenient pocket-sized hard copy edition offers clear timelines with a map and colourful images.

It is available at the Hilltops Visitor Centre, which is located at the old railway station adjacent to Anderson Park, plus Hilltops Council offices and stores throughout the town.

For further inquiries contact the Young Visitor Centre at [email protected] or phone 1800 628 233.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.