VISITORS to Russell and Joy Higgins' home could be forgiven for thinking the couple had won Tattslotto.
Huge windows at their 16ha Wangandary farm, near Wangaratta, frame a million-dollar, 180-degree view stretching from the Albury district, to the left, sweeping across Falls Creek, Hotham, Mt Bogong and finally, just hidden behind the Warby Ranges, is Mt Buller.
Turn your back on the view and you'll see walls festooned with photos and paintings - Norwegian fjords, Greek beaches, French provincial countryside - all mementoes of the 30-odd countries they have visited in the past 12 years.
"And we're about to head to Alaska this year," Russell says.
"We are born travellers."
The secret to their lifestyle?
Berries - brambleberries, loganberries and boysenberries - and a range of jams and sauces.
But don't think for a moment this is quick, easy money.
Like all farmers, the Higgins work hard in season, some days getting by on little sleep.
And they've been clever.
The Higgins started farming cherries and berries in Glenrowan 35 years ago, but moved to Wangandary five years ago.
"We chose the land not just for the view, but because it was perfect for berries," Russell says.
The gentle slope of Cherrytime Orchard is perfect for draining, and a micro-climate attracts the morning sun and shields the berries from bad frosts, while the Warby Ranges shuts out the hot afternoon rays.
The black loam soil is treated with organic nutrients, a special concoction designed by Russell.
"When I started here I said to myself, 'If I was a berry, what would make me happy?'," he says.
Their happy berries arrive on the market about two weeks before Yarra Valley berries and, while they produce only half a tonne a year, fetch about $30/kg. And the decision to cultivate unusual varieties has paid off in Melbourne.
Logan, bramble and boysen varieties are snapped up by city hotels.
About 60kg of berries are frozen each year, transformed into preserves by Joy, and sold at the farm gate.
The most popular is the intense Wildly Wicked Warby Dessert Syrup. Others include peach and cinnamon jam, tangelo marmalade and lime and chilli sauce - most ingredients sourced from the Higgins' self-sufficient garden.
- Cherrytime Orchard, Wangandary, cherrytime.com.au/ or ph (03) 5725 3379.