AUTUMN has come to Raeburn Orchards and crowds are booming as a new generation drops in.
The Casotti family has been running Raeburn for almost 70 years and while colour in the trees always draws a crowd, social media sent sightseers into a frenzy.
Lisa McConachy, the daughter of two Casotti owners, said visitor posts on Facebook and particularly Instagram had skyrocketed.
“Saturday and Sunday was bonkers. I can’t even probably put a number on it. I mean we’re open from 9 till 5. I reckon we would have had over 1000 people come through on Saturday, and then on Sunday as well,” Ms McConachy said.
“We start at 9 and they’re here at 8.30, waiting to get in.”
The family started their own Instagram account a couple of weeks ago to help visitors tag them in snaps.
“Yesterday we had a guy beg us to take a photo with his Mini in the orchard… he drove his Mini into the orchard. It was a red Mini with the red trees. We have babies, we have dogs, we have engagements, we have everything,” Ms McConachy said.
Lisa’s mother, Carol Casotti, said it had been a whirlwind of crowd control and sales, with 12 hands on deck over the weekend.
“The kids have been great, because they just know how to deal with social media. We’re old school, you know. When Adam said ‘oh mum, I’ve set you up on Instagram’, I texted back and said ‘are you trying to fry my brain?’.”
“The visitors are all from town, they’re all from down in the flats and they never get to see it. We’ve got groups of teenagers coming.”
Ms McConachy said the happy snappers weren’t just paying their orchard entry fee and leaving – they were looking through the shop too and she said sales were up ten times what was normal for this time of year.
“They come and purchase a ticket, they wander, sometimes they stay in the orchard for three hours. Then they’ll wander up, come and get fruit, sometimes they’ll get a drink and wander back down,” she said.
The Casotti children grew up on the orchard and Ms McConachey said the tourist boom had been exciting to watch.
“It’s very exciting. I’m proud of what mum and dad have done,” she said.
“Because of Aldi and Coles taking over and making prices so low, we were on the brink of ‘do we shut down?’.
“But this has shed some light and made them go OK, we can do this.”
The Raeburn Orchards shop currently has persimmons, mandarins, oranges and apples in season, with the pomegranate season just finishing up.