Lychee season draws visitors to farm

Lychee season draws visitors to farm

Lychee season

Lychee season is here! How fortunate for me Australia has the longest lychee season in the world – producing from late October to late March.

lychee season

Every time I look at my own lychee trees in the ground, I am reminded of Ted and Liz Knoblock, lychee farmers in Boambee who sold me lychee cuttings in the summer of 2014.

Lychee season is here Kwai Mae Pink
My Kwai Mae Pink lychee tree doing very well in the ground after a year
Lychee season my Kwai Mae Pink
After nothing but only those three large leaves for about 8 months, I finally see all these new shoots

















My Kwai Mae Pink lychees 

In fact lychee was the topic of my very first blog post in April last year. I planted my lychee seedlings in March 2015.

What a relief to see so many more leaves on them with nothing happening for months. I learnt later that lychee can take up to 10 years to enter into full production though you can start harvesting by three to four years old. In China you can find lychee trees still producing at 200 to 300-years-old.

I had bought two different varieties. Three Kwai Mae Pink (KMP) and three Wai Chee (WC). All of the Wai Chee never made it through winter. So it was not farfetched to wonder if the KMP were still alive when I could not see any new leaves.

Ted was right. He did say it would take up to a year to see new leaves sprouting.

“I’m sorry about your Wai Chee, Shoba,” said Ted. “But the Kwai Mae Pink is a more durable specie. When we planted the older trees in 1978, they were mainly Bengal and Tai So. The Bengal has been good and is quite resistant to wind, but a lot of the Tai So were destroyed in a cyclone in 1986, so we bulldozed them and planted the then new emerging varieties of Kwai Mae Pink and Wai Chee.

“Over the years since there has been some tree losses due to disease and cyclones , in particular the Wai Chee which is not very secure in wind. Those trees have been replaced with Kwai Mae Pink and the newer Salathiel variety.”

Lychee season is here farm under netting
The Knoblocks’ lychee trees under full netting

Protecting the lychee trees

All these trees are under the canopy of strong netting which cost the Knoblocks AUD$100,000 to keep out fruit bats and rainbow lorikeets and also provide protection against a hail storm.

“We have experienced staying up all night during harvest time to chase away the bats and birds. Now the netting gives us some peace of mind,” said Ted

The Knoblocks are the southern-most lychee growers in Australia. Very few people would dare venture so far south of Queensland to grow lychee. But at an average harvest of 12 tonnes a year, they are proving that lychees can thrive in the southern climate.

My visit to the Knoblocks' Boambee farm
Ted and Liz Knoblock with me holding their cute dog in the midst of hundreds of lychee trees

it was a Chinese fruit merchant that persuaded Ted Knoblock to plant lychees in 1977, when the Department of Agriculture said it would be too cold for them at Boambee, just south of Coffs Harbour in the mid-north Coast of New South Wales.

I am further south of Coff’s Harbour, but Ted believes that lychee trees can grow as far south as Merimbula because it is a sub-tropical fruit.

Lychees need a winter of approximately 100-200 hours of chilling below 68 F (20 C)degrees before they can fruit.

So with much enthusiasm I ordered my cuttings from the Knoblocks and received them through mail. Two months later my husband Kevin and I visited their lychee farm in Boambee.


My visit to the Boambee Lychee farm

There are no words to describe the thrill of being amongst hundreds of adult lychee trees. I was like a kid in a sweet shop, but in the healthier version.

It wasn’t even the lychee season. We had just missed it having arrived in April, but there were the rogue little fellas who managed to dodge the harvesters and Liz picked them for me.

Lychee season is here harvesters missed some lychees
Some of the lychee missed by the harvesters still on the trees

“I took some lychee from my farm to a friend who works at the local supermarket,” said Liz. “My friend decided to do a taste test between my lychee and the ones sold at the supermarket and found mine to be far more delicious.”

I agreed as the lychees at the supermarket travel longhaul in trucks to go to central distribution centres where they will sit in storage before travelling further and sitting for yet longer in cold storages for sorting and delivering to the different supermarkets.

By the time the consumer gets them they are not fresh any longer.There is no comparison to purchasing lychee directly from the farms.

With the Knoblocks farm you can even pick your own. It is open to the public during lychee season, which starts in October. They have about 500 trees over eight acres.


Lychee season is here lychees in bunches
Lychees hanging in bunches on the trees during lychee season





The Chinese connection

From the time the Chinese merchant persuaded them to choose this crop against the odds nearly 40 years ago to the present day, the Chinese have been a blessing to their farm.

Every year the Chinese flock to their farm to pick their own lychees for the Chinese New Year festival. This 2016 it is the year of the monkey and it falls on February 8.

The lychee season in Australia starts in October in Queensland where most of the lychee farms are located. However as the Knoblocks’ farm are further south in New South Wales, their harvest starts later, in January.

This works out well because it coincides perfectly with dates for Chinese New Year every year. There are traditional foods offered up during the festival with each symbolizing something. Lychees symbolize strong family ties

“The main thing we discourage people from doing while picking is pulling branches so far down that they break,” Ted explained.  “They also cannot use ladders, or stand on bins etc to pick fruit because of the insurance issues. Using secateurs to pick small branches for new year is not only tolerated , but encouraged – it is free pruning for us!

“Most of the time, in picking season it is fairly damp with a low fire danger. But some years it can be quite dry at picking, and the leaves under the trees can be a fire hazard, so we don’t allow smoking in the plantation at any time. We do allow smoking on our lawn except in total fire bans so long as they do the right thing with their butts. The only other issue is rubbish left behind. Such things as discarded tissues and drink cans etc detract from the ambience of the place.

“They are welcome to leave the skins and seeds from the fruit they eat under the trees – they are good mulch.”

The rest of the lychee is sold at markets in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

It is well worth the trip to this farm in Boambee for those who want the unforgettable experience of eating fresh lychees straight off the tree. It is located at 169 South Boambee Road Coffs Harbour, NSW, 2450.

They only accept groups of at least six people and charge entry fees of $15 per head and $8 for children aged 6 and above. It is free for those under 6-years-old. In addition whatever fruit is picked is charged at market rates

During season the Boambee lychee farm will be open to visitors in the mornings from Feb 4 – Feb 21, 2016.





This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Do you sell and deliver boxes direct ?

    1. Yes, they do. Please contact the lychee farmer directly. Thank you

      1. Hi Marion and De Pham, I’ve finally heard from the farmer. He said that picking/harvesting will only take place at the end of January, but you both are welcome to drop by at the farm to see what other fruits they have. If you come by in the middle of January there might be some lychees available but he can’t guarantee it. It is best to go at the end of January. You can call the farm house at this number 02-66531931

  2. Hi,

    I am travelling to Coffs Harbour on 13th Jan 2017. Is the farm opened for picking?


    1. Hi, I’m sorry. It is quite difficult to get through to the farmers during this very busy season. I would suggest going directly to the farm, but go as early as 7 – 8 am as it is the best time to reach someone.

  3. Hi, I was thinking to visit the lychee farm on 21-22 Jan or 28-29 Jan. Is the farm open for picking?

    1. Yes. End of January is a good time to visit them. You can call the farm house at this number 02-66531931

  4. Hi, is the farm available for picking on the 18-19 feb. (we are from Sydney thinking to drive up)

    1. Hi, please read the rest of the comments to this post. You will find the farmer’s contact details. Please call the farm directly to enquire.

  5. Can I picking up Lychee or buying some?

    1. Yes. please call the phone number I have posted in the thread here

  6. do you have a phone number where we could check when you have fruit I come from north qld so love my lychees and have only just found out about your farm from one of my carers \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\dawn Mc.Kenzie coffs harbour thanks you

    1. Please read the other comments. I’ve posted a phone number for them.

  7. Hi,

    I am interested in picking lychee between 27th Nov to 10 Dec as my sister from overseas come to visit and she loves lychee, let me know as there will be 7 of us and 2 kids under 4 years old. Thanks.


    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Please read the other responses here. You will see one that has the contact details of the lychee farmer. Please contact him directly

  8. Hi there
    Hope you are well.
    May I know if you sell the lychee (e.g. delivery to home) as I couldn’t find the good lychee in supermarket?
    May I also know if can have a farm visit someday next year?


    1. Could you kindly refer to the story of the lychee farmer on In the comments section you will see the contact details of the farmer. Please call the farm and arrange for them to deliver to you. They also do farm visit.

  9. Hi there ;
    Is there any lychee now? Can we come and visit on
    Thursday 4th Jan 2017? We are at Gold Coast will be driving to Sydney would love to drop by as a family of 5 ?

    1. Kindly call the farmer directly.

  10. Do we have to pre-book with you in advance as we will come in a group of around 20 peoples

    1. Kindly call the farmer directly.

  11. Do u have lychee picking on March?

    1. Kindly call the farmer directly.

Name (required)Email (required)Website

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.