When he was 14 Anthony Wallis spent a month helping his aunt and uncle plant an orange orchard on their property at the confluence of the Colo and Hawkesbury Rivers, an hour from Sydney. “I didn’t go too well in my school exams that year,” he laughs. Thirty-five years later he and his brother Jeremy took over the running of the orchard, with Anthony managing sales and Jeremy the growing.
Visiting the certified organic Colo River Orchard is like stepping back in time – even the irrigation system is the original Anthony laid all those years ago. In the old tin packing shed a vintage “Universal Fruit Grader” sorts the oranges by size after the seconds are separated from the premium fruit. On the day we visited the wide river flowed sleepily, the sky was clear and blue and the scent of citrus oil heady in the warm Spring air: it was idyllic.
Navel oranges are Anthony and Jeremy’s main crop, available from about May each year until they get too sweet and ripe to eat. From then warm weather Valencias take over and continue through spring and early summer. The brothers also grow a small number of bitter Seville oranges (for making marmalade) and Emperor mandarins – they’re not a commercially popular variety but we savour the few boxes of these sweet, fragrant and juicy mandarins we receive each year so keep an eye out for them next winter.
In season, Anthony delivers a van load of oranges direct to Wholefoods House at least once a week. Whether you juice them or enjoy slices fresh from the skin we know you’ll agree that the Wallis brothers produce the most incredible oranges available, otherwise we wouldn’t see them so often!