Dave Purcell, Photo: Grant Hardwick

Front photo: Dave Purcell of The Apple Thief. Photo: Grant Hardwick

Known for its quality apples, Batlow in New South Wales has magnificent orchards, natural beauty – and friendly locals. Located around 450 kilometres south-west from Sydney it’s a great place to explore. The beautiful Batlow lifestyle is enviable.

Batlow, New South Wales, Map: .id community

The town grew out of the discovery of gold in the 1850’s. It was originally known as Reedy Creek.

For years, the produce of Batlow has been prized.

In 1899 the Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser newspaper wrote regarding Batlow: ‘it is really here where the choicest of the Tumut district fruits are grown’.

The article continued to praise the area for its produce. ‘With its elevation of 2800ft. above sea level, and rich volcanic soil, it is capable to, and in fact does, produce all English fruits in perfection. Here we have currants, black and red and white of large size and quality; gooseberries which one can easily take two bites of, some of which measure over 3.5 inches in circumference and raspberries which grow to perfection’.

Despite the devastating 2020 bushfires, Batlow locals have shown true grit. They have a renewed determination to bring people to the area and ensure that tourists and foodies make this a top destination.

Batlow Lifestyle: The Apple Thief

Growing up in the area, Dave Purcell has a strong commitment to ensuring Batlow is on the tourist and foodie map. Sharing his enthusiasm and drive is his partner Mel Dickson.

‘Dave thought there must be a solution to the apples that fall from the tree that are still perfectly fine.  He took some apples to the Southern Highlands where some experimenting was undertaken and The Apple Thief was born’, says Mel.

Crafted from 100% fruit with nothing artificial (no added sugars, no juice concentrates), the Apple Thief premium ciders are described as ‘deliciously sweet with a refreshing, tart flavour and a clean, medium sweet finish’.

Man in a red, blue and white checked shirt, with dark baseball cap on reaching up to pick red apples off  a tree in an orchard
Dave Purcell of The Apple Thief. Photo: Grant Hardwick

Dave Purcell and Mel Dickson are an enterprising couple. They have big plans for the Apple Thief Cider House cafe, bar and immersive orchard experience. There’s also future plans to have boutique accommodation that will complement the Cider House.

A future range of ciders will likely include all the fruits from the orchard and local products, such as cherries.

I asked what have been some of the exciting things to have emerged from the business:

*Going from orchard to bottle on the same premises and not having to outsource any of the process which promotes employment in the community.

*Expansion of cider products, including non-alcoholic cider

*Online sales of the cider.

*Winning silver and bronze medals for our products at the Sydney Royal Beer and Cider Show in 2022.

*Moving the cider production to Batlow after the purchase of Wilgro Orchard.

The Apple Thief Cidery and Cider House project has been funded under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the Australian and NSW Governments

What’s The Lifestyle Like in Batlow?

For Dave and Mel the advantages of living in Batlow include:

*Country lifestyle – relaxed environment

*Community spirit and feeling part of a community

*Landscape – beautiful scenery and change in seasons

*Great community to raise a family

I can also add that the locals are friendly, warm and welcoming! There’s a relaxed feeling about Batlow

We visited when the local show was on. It was a highlight.

There were lots of animals on display. There were horse events on the oval.  The pavilion had displays of flowers, mouth-watering cakes, biscuits, jams, pickles and jellies. The handcrafts included crochet, needlework and knitting. 

All sorts of entries in various categories were on display. It would have been a difficult task to choose winners!

Man in a dark cap and red, white and blue checked shirt, eating a red apple in an orchard, carrying a young boy dressed in a blue shirt and blue jeans
Dave Purcell with a young helper. Photo: Grant Hardwick

Batlow Lifestyle: Statistics

According to the 2021 ABS Census, Batlow has a population of 1022, comprising 52.2% males and 47.8% females.

There’s a median age of 49 years.

Country of birth:

Australia 75.4%

Other Top Responses

Thailand 2.4%

New Zealand 1.6%

England 1.4%

Finland 1.4%

Taiwan 0.9%


Of course, every area has some challenges. It’s been mentioned that in Batlow the access to services and lack of accommodation can be difficult. The devastating bushfires have meant a long recovery and this has had a big impact on the community.

The Future

However, with projects like The Apple Thief Cider House and people with drive and determination like Dave and Mel, the future of Batlow is looking very bright!

It’s well worth a visit to the charming Batlow. Put it on your list. You may even want to stay for a longer time in this Australian lifestyle location.

Batlow is a very unique place and just gorgeous in spring‘, Sharon Elworthy

To find out more about The Apple Thief please click here

Cover image of Dave Purcell was also taken by photographer Grant Hardwick, Tumut

Jill Weeks has been an educator and author for many years. She is the author of 21 Ways To Retire, which gives insights into how 21 Australians from different backgrounds adjusted to retirement. She is also the co-author with her husband, Owen, of several editions of Where To Retire In Australia and one of Retire Bizzi.

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