In our last trip to Melbourne, we went on a road trip to the Yarra Valley and the Mornington Peninsula. We stayed a night at the gorgeous Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa and the next day we took to the road heading towards Woori Yallock as we wanted to visit Rayner Stone Fruit Orchard.
It was a bright beautiful autumn day when we piled into our nifty Audi A3 and with the help of Maps on our iPhones, the drive to Rayner Stone Fruit Orchard took less than an hour. We took it slow and easy as we wanted to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Yarra Valley. The country roads were kinda narrow and winding and we drove through some really isolated stretches. We couldn’t help feeling a bit doubtful when we were driving through some very small and lonely roads. But you have to trust the Maps GPS – which we did and eventually we did arrive at Rayner Stone Fruit Orchard, after a rather harrowing drive along an uneven narrow road which seemed to stretch endlessly!
The moment we turned off that road and saw the sign “Rayner Stone Fruit Orchard” we all heaved a sigh of relief. Driving up further we saw the Peach Café and knew we have arrived. The first to welcome us were the Rayner dogs – they barked in delight and were really happy to see visitors!
As it was early September, it was blossoms time at the orchard. There were rows and rows of stone fruit trees all ablaze with the most amazing colours, from white to different shades of pink and red blossoms. These would eventually bear into fruits like cherries, plums, peaches, apricots and apriums, just to name a few.
Len Rayner, the friendly owner personally took us on a tractor tour of one part of the orchard. Visitors can book these tours too – they are available between 9am till 4pm, 7 days a week from December to September. We loved the commentary given by Ray as he explained the different types of fruits planted there, often punctuated with amusing stories – the guy’s such a blast!
Len driving us in his tractor
At that time, the only fruits we saw were tamarillos (tree tomatoes) and lemons… and one tree bearing nectarines! The best time to view fruits are from December to April. Right about now, if you visit, there will be already lots to see. We also had a first-hand look at their packing facilities where fruits are graded and packed for the markets.
“This is how you eat a tamarillo!” Len advised Derek
The orchard grows and sells 300 varieties of fruits, year round. Besides selling them fresh, some of the fruits are made into jams, relishes, chutneys, sauces or simply bottled whole. These products can be bought from their store in the orchard and also online via their website.
We were hungry after the orchard tour and headed to Peach Café for lunch. The menu may not be extensive but it featured some wholesome country-style pies, salads, sandwiches and desserts using fruits from the orchard, of course.
Rayner Stone Fruit Orchard is a great place to visit, especially with kids. Spend half a day here – check out the orchards – for a nominal sum, you get to eat as much fruits as you pick during the fruiting season. If that’s not enough, then grab some tasty lunch at the Peach Café!
We’d really love to visit the orchard again during the fruiting season… that’s about a couple of months from now!
Rayner Stone Fruit Orchard
60 Schoolhouse Road
Tel: +61 3 5964 7654