I love a good drive in the countryside, I love meeting people who have a connection to growing food and I love the passion they have for what they produce.
Having spent the better part of 15 years living in the Shoalhaven region, I have been extremely lucky to have found some exquisite pockets of ‘FOODIE heaven’- two hours drive South from the heart of Sydney…. Producers of cheese, wine, oysters, raspberries, organic vegetables, olives, organic meats and more .
On one of my many excursions I set out to find the infamous “Mushroom tunnels” I had heard about in the Southern Highlands. I did a little research and phoned ahead to meet with Dr Noel Arrold, a microbiologist who took over the disused railway tunnel in 1987. We had a clandestine meeting on the side of the road before a short drive to the railway line , then it was on foot for a few hundred meters before reaching the tunnel itself. I must say, it is a very EERIE feeling at first as the big tunnel door creaks open to reveal a dark, damp and earthy smelling, very quiet tunnel!
Thankfully, Noel hit the light switch and there before me was the most awesome sight I had ever seen….. “mushroomly speaking”.
Kilometres of fresh Swiss Browns, Shiitake, Oyster , Shimejii, and Wood Ear mushrooms. These mushrooms thrive in the cool, damp and dimly lit environment of the tunnel which resembles the conditions that occur in the mountainous forests of China, Japan and Korea where these mushrooms occur naturally. As we walked down the tunnel I was struck by the beauty & form of these fungi who’s job in nature is to degrade the dead trees and turn them into organic matter.