Ask A Local: Blueberry Hills on Comleroy
Blueberry farmer Ruth Schembri’s guide to the Hawkesbury.
Ruth Schembri is managing director of Blueberry Hills on Comleroy, a working blueberry farm and a boutique adults-only retreat. It’s located in the picturesque Hawkesbury region, just a 90min drive from Sydney. Here, Ruth explains why she loves the area.
What makes the Hawkesbury region special?
The location is hard to beat. We’re just over an hour’s drive from Sydney and within easy reach of many parts of regional NSW. The Hawkesbury is also ideal if you’re looking to spend time in the Blue Mountains but want to base yourself somewhere more peaceful and with more of a local’s feel than the big mountain towns.
What else sets the Hawkesbury apart?
There’s just so much to experience here that very few people know about. You’ve got the rivers, where you can kayak; excellent bush-walking; and lookouts with incredible views. You can go fruit picking or antique shopping or just relax at your accommodation.
What about some activities to get the adrenaline pumping?
Trees Adventure at Grose River Park is starting to become really popular, particularly with families. Visitors of all fitness levels can climb trees there, and there are elevated walkways among the canopy. Another destination we recommend is the Wild Cat Conservation Centre in Wilberforce, where you can meet a cheetah!
What’s a good day-trip destination in the Hawkesbury?
Windsor is a very old town that has always been popular with visitors. There’s a long mall lined with all sorts of shops and cafes, and it runs parallel to the river. There’s a nice walkway along the river, so we encourage our guests to pick up something to eat in town and head down there for a stroll and a picnic. There’s even a little beach where you can swim.
Is there a good pub nearby?
There are a few pubs in the area, but Barrels and Ashes in Richmond is probably the most stylish. It’s housed in a historic building and just has a really lovely local atmosphere.
You’re based in a small village called Kurrajong. What’s it like?
Kurrajong is serene. There are a couple of nice coffee shops and cafes, and all the little shops that you generally find in a country village: a bakery, a plant nursery, a supermarket. There are quirky shops, too, including one that only sells wool. Whispering Elk is another one that visitors love. It sells a real variety, from clothing to homewares – even antiques. You never know what you’ll walk out with.
Tell us about the restaurant you’ve just opened at Kurrajong.
Schembrae’s at Kurrajong offers a Mediterranean dining experience featuring dishes made using seasonal local produce. Most of the menu is small plates and share plates, and the dishes are from all over the Mediterranean. It’s not a place to just grab and go: it’s somewhere to relax with family and friends and to enjoy a nice glass of wine from the region. We’ve also set up an information centre there with details about the region.
And what about Blueberry Hills itself? Why should visitors come and stay with you?
Aside from the location, it’s just a lovely place to wind down and refresh. There’s a hot tub outside, we’ve got sheep and alpacas that our guests can interact with, and, in the summer months, visitors can take part in blueberry picking. I like to say that it’s a place where you can do everything or nothing at all.