‘ForestrySA and OneFortyOne  combine in unique collaboration to bring Ghost Mushroom Lane to life’

Ghost Mushroom Lane is fast establishing itself as a ‘must-see’ tourist attraction.

The subject of extensive media coverage, with more than 65,000 visitations over the last three years, but behind the tourism Ghost Mushroom Lane is a demonstration of sustainable forest management in action.  

The aptly named ‘Ghost Mushroom’ (or Omphalotus nidiformis) is a bioluminescent fungus that emits a soft green glow at night.

The species itself is native to Australia and can be found growing on decaying plant material left behind following a pine tree harvest.

But perhaps no ghost mushrooms glow quite as bright as the Ghost Mushroom Lane.

Found in colonies deep in the Glencoe Forest, 16km from Mount Gambier in the heart of the Limestone Coast region, the glow from the ghost mushrooms is enchanting.

The mushroom was brought to public attention in 2017 after local photographer and renowned visual artist, Ockert le Roux, captured their glow in a series of stunning images.

A picture as they say is worth a thousand words…

Reflecting on the discovery Mr le Roux was blown away by what he saw.

“I remember it was a Thursday morning and I set out on a random trip in my car heading out towards the west of Mount Gambier, and I ended up in forest off Kangaroo Flat Road,” Mr le Roux said.

Searching for the elusive ghost mushrooms, Mr le Roux eventually stumbled upon a colony of mushrooms that matched the description of the native species.

“I went back to the same spot the next day after the moon had set, got out of the car and as I walked out it was like a fairy city, I was blown away by what I saw,” explains Mr le Roux.

Following Mr le Roux’s discovery, ForestrySA worked quickly to develop a visitor site in readiness for the Ghost Mushroom season.

Ghost Mushroom Lane was a runaway success, attracting 18,500 visitors in the first year and positive media attention for the local timber and tourism industries.

ForestrySA Chief Executive Julian Speed said free site visitation and uptake of paid guided tours had increased year-on-year and ForestrySA was now investigating ways to further enhance the annual tourism offering.

“As the South Australian Government’s forest manager, ForestrySA continues to facilitate public access to forest reserves under lease arrangement to OneFortyOne in the Green Triangle forest region,” he said.

“This arrangement allows thousands of people to continue to visit the local pine forest estate just as they have always done, to enjoy a range of activities such as Ghost Mushroom Lane.”

Visiting the Glencoe Forest, OneFortyOne General Manager for Business Development – Green Triangle, Willie van Niekerk reflected on the importance of forest certification in replenishing forests and providing the mushrooms with an environment to thrive.

‘The Ghost Mushroom phenomena is a unique part of the forest, and to our knowledge, this is the largest colony of ghost mushrooms in the world.’

‘OneFortyOne is permitted by ForestrySA to harvest pine trees in the forest, and it is decaying plant material left behind by the harvest which has enabled the mushrooms to flourish.’

‘For OneFortyOne sustainable forest management is a must, as a proud Responsible Wood scheme holder and member, OneFortyOne is subject to a regular audit programme, ensuring that our forest management practices meet extensive social and environmental benchmarks endorsed by PEFC internationally.’

‘Forest certification is a lifelong commitment, it provides OneFortyOne with our social licence to operate and provides ForestrySA and the constituents with assurance that forests balance the needs of today and the future, ensuring biodiversity is preserved for many years to come,’ Mr van Niekerk said.

In Mount Gambier for the Responsible Wood AGM, Simon Dorries Responsible Wood CEO, reiterated the importance of initiatives like Ghost Mushroom Lane in growing awareness of sustainable forest management with constituents.

‘Managing biodiversity, innovation and social inclusion are all key pillars in our standards, and when it comes to connecting communities together, promoting sustainable forest practices and preserving biodiversity Ghost Mushroom Lane ticks a lot of boxes,’ Mr Dorries said.

For more information about Ghost Mushroom Lane please visit the ForestrySA website, for more information about the Responsible Wood Sustainable Forest Management standard please visit the Responsible Wood website.