7 June 2024

Cider house rules: Construction underway on the Snowy Valleys next tourist attraction

| Chris Roe
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It's been years in the making but Dave Purcell is hoping to open the new Apple Thief Cider House in 2025.

It’s been years in the making but Dave Purcell is hoping to open the new Apple Thief Cider House in 2025. Photo: The Apple Thief.

Work has finally begun on the Snowy Valley’s highly anticipated new visitor destination – The Apple Thief Cider House.

After several years of planning and approvals, orchardist and Apple Thief founder Dave Purcell said he’s looking forward to completing the project early next year.

“It’s certainly taken us a while to get to this stage so it’s been a big relief and obviously we’re very excited to say the least,” he said.

“We’ve already started cider production on-site and when the new cider house is up and running, that will mean more jobs for locals, and more good reason to visit Batlow.”

The now iconic Batlow brand relocated its base of operations to the Snowys following the 2020 bushfires and set to work on plans for a state-of-the-art facility.

“Even though council have been very supportive, everything at the moment does seem to take longer from approval through to finance,” he said.

“At this stage, it’s obviously weather dependent, but we’re hoping to be up and running sometime between the new year and Easter.”

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Dave is determined to help the apple industry in the Batlow area recover and returned to his hometown from the Southern Highlands to take over the former Wilgro Orchards on Batlow Road.

The Apple Thief Cider House promises “an immersive experience” as visitors arrive through the orchard, experiencing the sights and smells of the apples and other fruits and berries that are grown on the property.

The centre will offer cider tasting and casual dining, building on the success of the temporary cider house in the old Wilgro farm shop.

“The car park is in the actual apple orchard under the hail nets, so you’ll walk through the apple trees and up into the cider house where you’ll get all the smells of the crushed apple juice and you’ll be seeing craft cider being made,” Dave explained.

“People will obviously do tastings and then they can grab a cider and some food and sit out under the apple trees and enjoy the spectacular views.

“We’re all about promoting local produce and it’s not just apples here, and I think that’s what a lot of people are after – that sort of provincial sort of experience.”

An artist's impression of the new Apple Thief site.

An artist’s impression of the new Apple Thief site. Photo: Supplied.

The next phase of the project has been backed by the Federal and State governments’ Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund.

“We’re very grateful for that help, and we’re also invested with matching funds of our own,” Dave said.

“Local and community support means everything to us.”

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Another exciting initiative in the pipeline is a possible Batlow Cider Rail Trail, linking the Batlow township to the Apple Thief Cider House.

The walking and cycling track would form part of the proposed Batlow to Tumut Rail Trail along a disused railway line.

“The rail trail has been something that’s been bubbling along for a long period of time, but just in the last year we’ve got a new committee and I’ve been a part of that,” Dave explained.

“Under the regulations, the rail trail needs to have two destinations, so one would be in Batlow itself and the other would be the cider house.”

Dave said he was excited by the possibilities to grow tourism in the region and looking forward to opening the doors to the new facility in early 2025.

“I grew up here so it means everything to me and my family to bring The Apple Thief home to Batlow,” he explained.

“We’re sure locals will enjoy the cider house as much as visitors from further afield.”

Original Article published by Chris Roe on Region Riverina.

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