On Day 2 of our roadtrip we went cherry picking in Wombat. Yes we did. And yes there is a place called Wombat.
It was pouring rain and cold, which I suspect are very good conditions for tromping around the hills picking cherries.
The old cherry farmer explained the pricing structure to us.
‘So it’s $15 per kilogram if you pick a kilogram but you have to guarantee you pick probably five or so kilograms each for all of you altogether and then we’ll weigh them and then you’ll pay per kilogram. Or you can pay $10 per person for the five of you and then you can pick as much as you want and then that’s yours. So what do you think?’
Nat and I just stared at each other.
‘We probably just want to pick this much,’ I said pointing to a box of cherries.
‘Five boxes,’ said the farmer, ‘so that’s about 20kg.’
‘No, not each, just one box total please!’
‘Ok, we’ll it’s best you just pay $10 each. That’s $40.’
‘There are five of us.’
So we paid our $40, took two white buckets and headed out into the rain. A young boy gave us a quick lesson on how to pick a cherry, pointed into the distant hills and told us that’s where the best cherries are.
It was still raining, and we were wearing thongs and Birkenstocks, but we were determined to go where the best cherries were. For about a kilometre we slid through the mud, sank into mud puddles, slipped down hills, and slipped backwards trying to go up hills, all the while shrieking and clutching each other’s arms as we tried to reach the utopia of cherry trees.
We picked two bucketloads of lush, plump cherries, probably ate a kilogram between us, and then back into the mud we went, down to the farmhouse, where another young boy wanted to weigh our cherries and charge us even more.
‘No, we had the family deal,’ Nat was saying as I slid to a halt next to her.
The old farmer wandered up at that moment, assessing our efforts.
‘Looks like we owe you $10,’ he said.
‘You can go collect $10 from the house over there,’ he pointed to a shed up another hill.
‘No, that’s ok,’ said Nat, backing away towards the car with our enormous bag of cherries.
So now we have five kilograms of Wombat cherries and a bag of wet muddy shoes stuffed into the last available space in the car.