For a good day out take the Stirling exit from the SE freeway to experience Autumn at her best in the quaint village of Stirling. The special autumn light shining through the richly coloured leaves and the aroma of roasting chestnuts.A scene reminiscent of the past that may transport you to another time and place.
Autumn is hot roasted chestnut time and will be the twenty-fifth year that Quentin Jones will be setting up his colourful stall in Stirling village. It all started in 1986 at the Aldgate Autumn Leaves Festival. That first year was a big learning curve and the chestnuts were cooked very, very slowly in a kettle bbq. After a bit of practice the nuts were cooked and a legend was born. The current rotating cooking basket was developed in 1987 over a few beers in a neighbour's back yard. The basket is ideal because it can cook a lot of nuts in a short time. Over the years Quentin has received much advice from the many nationalities making up our diverse culture. “You have to burn them a bit so they are easier to peel”. This advice was accepted and adds to the colour and smell as smoke from the nuts wafts up and down the street. Cars screech to a halt and whole families burst from the doors to purchase their weekend treat. Walkers and window shoppers are also enticed by the smell and movement. There are some people who have never tasted chestnuts and they can have a free sample if they ask. They too may be seduced by the subtle sweetness and soft, warm texture of the humble chestnut.
Quentin says that he loves meeting people and the regular customers have become firm friends, sharing their last year’s experiences as they scoff their cone of hot nuts. Quentin is now serving the next generation. Young families who were brought by their parents are now introducing chestnuts to their children. The rhythm of life in the hills continues.
The cooking of the chestnuts also gives Quentin a reliable guide to how the rest of the crop is fairing in the cold room, a sort of quality control for his fresh nut sales at the farm gate. Quentin cooks chestnuts in Stirling Village on Saturdays from 11am and Sundays and public holidays from noon. The season usually goes from Anzac day to early July.
After a wander around Stirling you can visit our farm shop just 3km from Stirling. On arrival you will be met by Deb and dogs Myka and Frank and have a selection of some top quality fresh chestnuts , quinces feijoas and limes to choose from as well as our exclusive range of jams and preserves, all of which have travelled no more than 300 metres from where they were grown.