McCarthys Orchard, McLaren Vale
Walking up the driveway to McCarthys Orchard was like walking into the cellar door of my grown-up dreams crossed with the farm of my childhood dreams (and Gem’s).
The pony in the paddock, Bob, along with the three donkeys Feta, Olive and Angel caught Gem’s eye and she was off. One of the donkeys let out a big ‘eeeee-oooorrr’ and Gem popped her fingers in her ears and laughed. It was the beginning of the loveliest Sunday afternoon.
The animals at McCarthy’s Orchard are plentiful, and like everything else here, there’s something for everyone. The dogs are super chilled and love a good pat – my favourite was the rescue greyhound, Woody, he also liked my favourite seat inside by the fire and looked like something out of a movie laying in it. You can feed a carrot to the three donkeys and pony, or give them a pat through the fence. There are super cute chickens with the funkiest names – like Bobby Dazzler and Kenny G– that are sometimes given cuddles and carried around like babies, and I even caught a glimpse of a cat.
McCarthys Orchard grows apples, pears, grapes, mangoes, avocados, cherries and ice cream – kidding, just checking you were paying attention, but there is an ice cream machine (win). There are some sweet maps owner Lisa McCarthy has drawn of the farm that you can take with you as you walk around the property locating where and what things are, and there is a real focus here on connecting people to the produce and nature – it’s like nature play meets winery. The best!
The food is local, fresh and delicious. We enjoyed the platter which was plentiful, and had such variety that we all felt spoilt. The focus on local products and knowing the farmer is evident. The dukkah, bread and olive oil is a hit with the kids too. For sweets, we had carrot cake, and I enjoyed a coffee in one of Lisa’s homemade pottery mugs.
The wine, cider and sparking juice are all delicious and need to be experienced. As I write this, I am loving a glass of the Shiraz (had to bring a bottle home) and the artwork on the labels need a mention too!
The child specific features/focus/ activities are so many, and all ages are covered. There’s a fuse-ball table for the older kids on the deck; a play area inside including toys, blocks and a play kitchen; books to read to the kids; Yahtzee and naughts-and-crosses games at the table by the fire; some vintage roller skates; rocking horses out the front; a rope swing; a boat; a grass area to run on with a variety of farm objects the kids can make their own fun with (Gem enjoyed the rolling barrels); and of course the aforementioned animals.
Parking is easy with a car park by the cellar door, although I opted to park on the road and walk up which was simple too. There’s a change table in the bathroom. Being a farm and multi-layered, if you were visiting with a baby, a carrier would be better than a pram. I loved the water and cups at kids’ level here too, and Gem was right in there helping herself to water which is always great to see.
This place works so well for families – it’s got kids of all ages covered. I watched the little ones having stories read to them; toddlers on the rocking horses; kids in the play area; some older kids playing fuse ball; middle-sized kids playing on the lawn and in the tree; parents watching from the deck and doing tastings as kids played nearby. I saw families walking together through the grounds, and visiting the pony and donkeys together. There are spaces where child-free folk can enjoy their wine and platters, and enough space and seating options that you can find the right one for you.
Final thoughts on McCarthys Orchard
- Book a space if there are a few of you, especially if you want to sit somewhere specific (I like the area by the door and the room with the fireplace)
- Allow time as the kids will want to explore and play and play, and you won’t want to leave either
- Have the kids wear comfy climbing clothes and shoes
- Pack some carrots to feed the donkeys
- Get the kids onto the dukkah and bread with olive oil followed by an ice cream.
For other places and things to do with kids in McLaren Vale check out this link