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Mushroom picking around Sydney – the season started

2022 Update

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.

2021 Update

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.

mushroom picking nsw

Saffron Milk Cap – Distinctly orange

mushroom picking oberon nsw

Slippery Jack with the yellow spongy belly

Saffron Milk Caps in NSW foresta

Saffron Milk Caps – when the time is right – they’re everywhere

 

mushroom picking sydney

This is what you get after 30 minutes. Almost too easy

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.

Mushroom foraging in Sydney - Toadstool - Fly Agaric Fly Agaric -Toadstool mushroom in Sydney Forest

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.

mushroom picking nsw

Kangaroos are much more common in the forest, but we also saw this family of deer

blackberries in the forest NSW

A bonus – a lot of blackberries which are also in season now

Blackberries in NSW forest

The berries are also everywhere

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.

mushroom picking oberon nsw

The forest is full of mushrooms now. These are not edible, but they do look great.

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.

 

10 replies
  1. Jay
    Jay says:

    Went a couple of days ago.
    Found a great spot too. Full of mushrooms and it looked like a tropical rain forest because of the rain. Very rich colors. Must bring a proper camera next time.

    Reply
  2. Lily
    Lily says:

    Its been really warm in Sydney recently so I haven’t decided to start foraging yet. Do you think the next few weeks will still be abundant in mushrooms though, given the warmer weather here in Sydney?

    Reply
    • Jay
      Jay says:

      Hi Lily, I think if you go in April you’ll still find a lot of mushrooms. Check the weather in Oberon or Berrima and pick a weekend after a decent rain; especially if you’re after slippery Jacks. For the Milk Caps it doesn’t matter as much. I’m definitely planning to make at least one more trip this season.

      Reply
    • Jay
      Jay says:

      There may still be some mushrooms in the forests, but March and April is the season. It’s still nice to walk in the forest, but if getting mushrooms is your main reason to go, I wouldn’t.. 🙂

      Reply
  3. hm
    hm says:

    Hi Jay,

    We just came back from a toured mushroom foraging experience and found your blog! I would like to ask if it would be possible for us to join you on your trip next year?

    Reply
    • Jay
      Jay says:

      I’m not sure how practical this will be, but what I can do is post here on the blog if we’re going to the forest and you can come along. It will be a weekend, and I’ll give a couple of days notice. We can meet in the forest and go from there.

      Reply
  4. Edward
    Edward says:

    Hi we are in lithgow going that way tomorrow
    Where exactly could we look for mushrooms? Is there a good place to.park.and wander?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Jay
      Jay says:

      Get on Jenolan Caves Rd. From about 5km past the Millionth Acre Recreation Area, you will find many dirt roads going into the pine forests. Drive in, park on the side of the road, and with a bit of luck, you’ll find plenty of mushrooms. The mushrooms are only in pine forests.

      Reply

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