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When I think of fungi I immediately think of mushrooms, and maybe mouldy cheese or even athlete's foot. But the world of fungi encompasses so much more - they are a critical part of our ecosystem and perform an important role in nature.
When you walk in parks and woodlands you will often see dead organic material such as tree branches. Take a closer look and you may discover fungi of all shapes and colours growing on the dead wood. Fungi perform an important role in breaking down organic matter so that the nutrients it contains can be recycled for other living things. Fungi can apparently even have sex with each other, although I prefer not to think about that too much when I'm alone in a rainforest.
Understanding fungi is useful - especially if you have them in your garden. They are also an important component of conservation parks and natural landscapes everywhere, and in the cool wet climate of the Adelaide Hills you can often find them. At this time of the year the Adelaide Hills come alive with mushroom hunters, but they are mainly focused on magic mushrooms such as Gold Tops and Blue Meanies (or so I'm told).
Fungi Talk The Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group also get excited about mushrooms and other fungi. In fact they got excited enough to invite ecologist Dr Sapphire McMullan Fisher from Fungimap to hold a talk to educate us about her secret world of fungi. On Friday June 24 from 7.30pm until 9pm Sapphire will introduce us to the arcane story of Australian fungi, and how you can contribute to fungi conservation and knowledge.
Although Sapphire is passionate about macrofungi and mosses, there is no mention of magic mushrooms on the menu - sorry guys.
Everyone is welcome to hear Sapphire's fungi talk at the Upper Sturt Soldiers Memorial Hall in the Adelaide Hills. No bookings are required, but you may be hit for a couple of bucks to buy the local bandicoots a beer. Please note that it is Sapphire who will do the talking, the fungi are still learning.
Fungi Walk The following day you can join in one of two fungi walks to see if you can catch any of these critters in the wild. I'd be tempted to wear closed shoes in case Sapphire stumbles into any athlete's foot on her travels, but that's up to you.
The fungi walks are being held at Landcare's demonstration site from 10am-12 noon, or 1-3pm. Bring a buck or three for the bandicoots again just in case they need appeasing. Bookings are essential by emailing email@example.com as numbers are very limited.
Twilight Fungi Walk You wouldn't believe how much excitement the fungi talk and fungi walk have generated already, so Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group have brought in the big guns. Noted environmentalist Dr John Wamsley has been recruited to do a twilight fungi walk to try to capture any of these thingies that have gone 'nocturnal'. The atmospheric twilight walk is also on Saturday June 25 but from 3.30-5.30pm, and who knows what other wildlife you may see in your travels.
The twilight walk is actually a fungi benefit evening (true!) which costs $50 per person ($25 concession). John has donated his time so that Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group can raise funds towards the first formal assessment of the conservation status of our own local fungi. This is a very worthwhile cause, but we have a couple of words of caution. Please leave your cats at home.
Bookings are essential by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org as numbers are limited.
You can find Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group on Facebook for more cute photos of their fungi friends, and maybe even the odd gratuitous shot of a bandicoot in the back yard. This talking, walking festival of fungi is supported by the Landcare Association of South Australia and the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board.