When I was about five-years-old, my parents used to take us out on regular weekend day trips.
Places I cherished were Paradise Gardens at Cattai, African Lion Safari at Warragamba, El Caballo Blanco at Catherine Field, Warragamba Dam, and Bobbin Head.
We also went to get fresh produce from farms in The Hills and Dural. I loved going to the strawberry farm in Victoria Avenue, Castle Hill to pick fresh strawberries. Of course, every second strawberry used to accidentally end up in my mouth and not the bucket.
Back then, Victoria Avenue was predominantly flower farms and fruit farms. I used to go on pony rides at farms in Dural which was very exciting.
We also visited an old Italian couple’s house on Windsor Road, Kellyville. One day, Dad wanted some fresh artichokes, so we popped in to ask the owners if we could buy some. It soon became a regular weekend outing for us, with the older Italian couple taking us into their cellar to eat homemade salamis and drink homemade red wine.
While the adults were in the cellar enjoying the fruits of their crops, I was outside running around the farm chasing geese or picking fresh broad beans, shelling them and eating them.
In those days, The Hills was farmland and from our family home in Dundas, it was a long way to go for the day. But we loved the “country drive”, fresh air and visiting farms to purchase fresh produce.
My stepdaughter now often asks if we can go for a country drive just so she can see some cows, horses or chooks. It is exciting for her when we do spot them because we are now surrounded by concrete jungles rather than expansive farmland.
The amount of pastures and farmland in western Sydney is quickly diminishing to allow for mass construction of housing, not to mention the construction of the Sydney Metro rail link.
Everyone is cashing in on construction and utilising every inch of land available.
While all this construction is exciting, and progress is a wonderful thing, it would also be great to maintain a small portion of farmland so we can still retain some of this fresh air and green trees for families to enjoy the "country drives" – and more importantly, our children can still see where food comes from before it lands on their plate.
- Isabella Lettini is a photographer for Fairfax Media in north-west Sydney.