ANNUAL ARALUEN PICKERS RACE
While temperatures around the state soar, the fruit pickers and packers from the Araluen Valley east of Braidwood NSW took on their annual challenge race on Monday, running from the Wisbey’s Packing Shed up the Majors Creek Mountain Road to the Majors Creek Pub.
The run which takes place towards the end of the season each year covers 9.4km of mostly rough dirt road and rises 498m from the valley floor.
While the temperature on Monday was in the low 30s, the Valley has regular summer temperatures into the 40s. The fit pickers, who come from all over the world, are used to starting work at 6am before the heat sets in. This year’s pickers come from Italy, UK, Estonia, Germany as well as around Australia.
Wisbey’s owner Robyn Clubb sponsors the race with $200 prizes for the first man and woman across the line, and $100 for the next place. Wisbey’s has 19,000 fruiting trees and employs a picking and packing team of around 30.
This year the pace was set by unofficial entrant, former Queenslander Kim Hayman, now living in Belgium but visiting relatives in the valley, with a fast 57 minutes. The record of 43.46 minutes was set by Araluen local Jay Antoniak in 2010.
The year official First Place went to Levi Park-Caesar from Lismore with a time of 65 minutes, closely followed by Corban Brookes from the UK on 66 minutes, Francesca Lovato from Italy on 67 minutes, then Angelo Guiliani on 69 minutes.