Australia’s extraordinary wildflower wealth is reason enough to look beyond your next step when bushwalking. But with more than 500 varieties growing in the wild, Australian fungi is a fabulous added bonus.
Preferring moist, shaded environments, mushrooms and toadstools come in diverse shapes (upstanding to jelly-like recumbent), colours (beige to enamel red), textures (velvety to slimy), sizes (pin head to dinner plate), and degrees of edibility (delicious on toast to deadly in days). Some even eat insects!
Fungi are remarkable to look at and photograph but take care if you get down low. Leeches are equally attracted to the moist environments that fungi inhabit and might sucker on to the back of your head as one did to me!
An excellent back-at-camp reference book – it’s a bit heavy for a day pack – is Bruce Fuhrer’s “A field guide to Australian Fungi” available through the CSIRO.