At 7 in the morning, we sleepily find ourselves gathered at a carpark in Enmore to head out about two hours south of Sydney for a fun-filled mushroom foraging workshop held by Weedy Connection. We're greeted by Diego, who loads us onto a mini-bus.
We've come prepared with baskets (or bags), a knife, water bottle, a packed lunch and umbrellas because there was a chance of showers today. Luckily the day holds up and we get a whole lot of sunshine instead.
After driving just under two hours south of Sydney, we arrive at Penrose State Forest, where Diego gives us a rundown of wild mushrooms. He shows us how to cut the mushrooms and how to spot edible ones. We also learn that mushrooms live in a symbiotic relationship with trees, that there is only a short window of opportunity during the year for wild mushroom foraging, and interestingly that mushrooms are actually flowers.
Armed with the knowledge of what pine mushrooms look like, we go on our first forage around the forest. Many of us come back with very little or with nothing at all. We bring any unknown mushrooms to a table nearby for a bit of a show-and-tell session. Amongst the selection of mushrooms are poisonous ones and also mysterious mushrooms that we can't identify. Those are returned to the forest. But all pine mushrooms and slippery jacks have found a happy home in our baskets and bags.
Then we're off to Belanglo State Forest, where we stop in two locations. Pine mushrooms and slippery jacks are stacking up nicely in our baskets - to the point that we become pickier in the mushrooms we forage, leaving the drier ones behind.
We head back to Sydney with baskets full of wild mushrooms, giddily planning how we'll cook them up for dinner. It was a fabulous trip, a great learning experience, and I had a bounty of mushrooms that I proudly took home.
There's only one more tour available during this mushroom season on 31 May, so make sure you book in quick here. Otherwise, make sure you get to it next year. Or try out an edible weeds workshop.