16 Apr 2022 – Jenolan Caves is still only accessible via Oberon, but we were able to get to the pine forests via Jenolan Caves Road. I think they closed this road much closer to the caves. They closed one half of the road and there are traffic lights directing traffic, but with a little bit of a delay, it’s possible to get to the forests.
We went late yesterday and got stuck in a huge traffic jam in Katoomba. Only got to the forest at around 2pm. Still, there was plenty of time to collect about 10kg of Milk Caps. Enough for 18 jars. I think we’re good now. Our pantry is full 🙂 And we’re not planning another trip this year.
7 Apr 2021 – Jenolan Caves roads closed due to damage caused by the recent rains. They hope to reopen from April 19th. We’ll be checking google maps before we go, and we’ll definitely try these forests before the season ends next month.
29 March 2021 – Berrima had a lot of rain over the last week or so. And there are puddles of water in the forest. However, there are not many mushrooms. Actually, I think there were more people at the picnic ground than there were mushrooms 🙂 I invited a couple of families with small children and didn’t want them to be disappointed. They have never been in the forest, and probably never ate the food they picked up from the ground. In the end, I found 6 mushrooms. Milk Caps… This was actually a great achievement because when we asked around, most people just got 1 or 2. So, in conclusion… the season is not yet there. I will try again in a couple of weeks, but this time I think we’ll go to the Jenolan Caves region.
Ah… also, the rain killed the dirt road going to the picnic spot. Huge potholes everywhere. We had to drive extremely slowly.
28th Feb 2021 – No mushrooms as yet. Went to Berrima and unfortunately, the season has not started yet. It looked really dry too, so I don’t expect any mushrooms until we get a few days of a good soaking. Watching the weather now, but there’s been no rain in the last few days.
This site has the weather, including rainfall over the last 5 days. Berrima Weather
I have not been to the Jenolan Caves this year. Has anyone got any info from that area?
End of updates
I consider March and April to be the best months for mushroom foraging in NSW forests. If the weather is good (for mushrooms), which means a little cooler, but not frosty, and very wet, then mushrooms can be found in February and into May.
I always check how much rain fell in the last few days before I go to the forest, although I think the Milk Caps need a lot less rain than Slippery Jacks.
What mushrooms to collect in the pine forest
There are only 2 types of mushrooms that I collect in the pine forests of NSW. It’s the Saffron Milk Cap and Slippery Jack. I have picked and eaten these all my life and I’m confident that they are edible. I would not touch any other mushrooms, but some of them are really good to look at.
The fairy tale mushrooms are beautiful to look at but they are poisonous, so better just to look and photograph. They are practically everywhere. Easily distinguishable from the edible ones, so there is no danger of mistaking them for food.
What to bring to the forest to pick mushrooms
- A small sharp knife. We don’t pull mushrooms from the forest floor. Cut them off, leave the roots in the ground.
- A basket or a bag. Preferably not a plastic bag as they may not survive the trip home.
- Good walking shoes, long tight socks, a hat, a poncho for the rain. It’s also great to ward off the leeches. Oh… come on! You’re in a forest! Where is your sense of adventure?
- Picnic table, and cooking gear
- Outdoor chairs
- A gas burner. Frying pan. Butter, salt, bread, wine…
- Don’t forget the wine
- A large garbage bag
We used to go mushroom picking to the forest when we were young. People in Europe still do that. It’s an autumn tradition. It’s never really to find food anymore. 100 years ago it was a necessity, but these days it’s just nice to go back to nature and enjoy what it has to offer. The forest was always this dark and scary place, but full of so many wonderful things. Little animals, birds, blueberries, and blackberries.
I must correct what I said that mushroom picking is just for fun, and not for food. Last year we pickled 12 jars of these mushrooms and we are now on the last jar. If we find enough of them this season we’ll definitely do that again. They are so easy to do and they last for months. Perhaps years, but they never lasted that long in our house.. 🙂
Where to go for mushroom picking around Sydney
There are 2 places, driving distance from Sydney, that are great for mushroom picking. One is in the Belanglo State Forest, southwest of Sydney. About 140km away. It’s an easy drive, mainly on a freeway, so it will be less than 2 hours to get there. They have a nice picnic area there and there is a pond full of yabbies, which are fun to catch and make an enjoyable lunch. This is also very close to the historic town of Berrima. Definitely worth a visit, even just to stroll down the street and enjoy the autumn colors.
Another place to pick mushrooms close to Sydney is west, over the mountains. Close to the town of Oberon and Jenolan Caves. It’s probably a similar distance from Sydney and also mainly on a freeway, so getting there is not an issue, and there is no need for a 4 wheel drive.
I guess these mushrooms can be found in any pine forest. If the pines can grow there, so can the mushrooms.
How do we cook the Saffron Milk Caps
I’m not much of a cook, but to prepare these is not a difficult task. I usually just wash them, cut in 1cm slices, and fry them on a pan. Add some butter at the end, some garlic. A piece of bread to have with the sauce. We usually cook them right in the forest. Just need a pan and a gas cooker. It was raining yesterday, so I took them home and fried them in my kitchen.
The best way, however, to enjoy these mushrooms is to pickle them. That way we can enjoy them all year round. There are plenty of recipes on Google and YouTube, how to do it.
There is an abundance of mushrooms in the forest around Oberon. You can see them even from the car. Growing even in the middle of the little forest road. They looked fantastic.
The season for mushroom picking in NSW is from about now, late March, till early May. It all depends on the weather, of course. If it gets too cold, they will not survive. I’m planning to make a couple more trips to the forest this season. Hopefully, the weather will be a bit kinder for me, not just to the mushrooms, and I can enjoy a picnic in the forest and a great mushroom feast.