Ghost mushrooms glow for another season

MUSHROOM LANE CLOSED: The popular Ghost Mushroom Lane is closed.

Melanie Riley

THE region’s beloved glowing mushrooms are back, but the traditional Ghost Mushroom Lane is no more.

Forestry SA chief executive Tim Ryan confirmed Ghost Mushroom Lane will not be opening this year, but ghost mushroom guided tours will go ahead through local tour operator ‘Walk the Limestone Coast.’

Mr Ryan said there were many factors that influenced ForestrySA’s decision to make the changes.

“Declining mushroom numbers at the Ghost Mushroom Lane site have led us to reassess the way the ghost mushroom hunting experience is offered to the public,” he said.

“Changes in seasonal weather, periodic forestry operations and the ever-changing life cycle of the pine forest are the reason fewer ghost mushrooms are growing at this particular site.

“The site is located within a working forest, so there are natural changes over time as the trees are thinned and the forest becomes more open.”

He said specific conditions are required for the mushrooms to flourish, and high mushroom numbers will be dependent on the natural changes in weather.

“These natural changes, along with our desire to provide a quality visitor experience, mean we have had to find a better way to do things,” Mr Ryan said.

“The alternative of privately-operated tours means people will be able to visit various sites where the best mushrooms are at the time.

“While ForestrySA was able to arrange access to the single lane location, our business just isn’t set up to be a tour operator for groups, especially when private organisations already provide this service.”

He was confident the changes would have a positive impact for the Limestone Coast community and tourism in the area.

“Firstly, this new “tour-based approach” will ensure visitors see the best mushrooms and receive the best experience possible,” he said.

“The presence of a tour guide and small group numbers mean visitors can safely access different parts of the forest, away from the former Ghost Mushroom Lane event site.

“Secondly, provision of a premium experience will ensure ghost mushroom hunting remains at the top of the to-do list for visitors to the Limestone Coast, providing a positive economic flow-on for our region and new business opportunities for local tourism operators.”

Walk the Limestone Coast owner and tour leader, Natasha Dawson is looking forward to being able to offer a curated and exciting ghost mushroom experience.

Ms Dawson has been running tours alongside the self-guided option for several years, but had to cancel tours last year due to the decline in mushroom numbers.

Having a licence to use other sections of the forest and not being locked into what was known as Ghost Mushroom Lane, Ms Dawson said the flexibility will assist in providing a better experience

“It gives me as an operator the flexibility to move around the location of my tours based on where the fungi are and their abundance,” she said.

“They’re really sensitive to the changes of climate, and they’re showing us when they’re not happy.

“We’re really hopeful that we’ll ensure good fungi for May and June, but there’s nothing predictable about them, apart from the general time of the year they come up.”

Ms Dawson wanted to be able to provide a more authentic and personalised tour, and bust some myths along the way.

“When I’m working a bit more closely with people, I can set those expectations leading up to coming on a tour, because the green is only achieved by the long exposure of a camera, or a video camera,” she said.

“This is definitely providing a better, full experience to maximise the glow of the fungi.”

Ms Dawson said a majority of people going on the tour are from outside of our region, and often from Adelaide or Melbourne, and it is important to her to provide a positive experience.

There are also discussions around both photography and educational tour options with other commercial operators in the future.

Tours will run for 30-45 minutes and Ms Dawson advised anyone interested in an upcoming tour to flag the weekends in May and June that are close to a new moon as a guide.

There will also be an option of a private sunset tour, which includes a walk through the forest as the sun is setting, then moving into a ghost mushroom hunt after dark.

Ms Dawson will provide updates on tours on her website and via social media.

“It is a niche and spontaneous experience, so people are going to have to be more spontaneous this year,” Ms Dawson said.

To find out more about the ghost mushrooms or book guided tour, head to or call 0408 086 792.