Legislative Council: Thursday, June 16, 2022


Question Time

Ghost Mushroom Lane

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (14:41): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Will the minister please update the council on the popular tourist event Ghost Mushroom Lane?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:41): I thank the honourable member for his question about ghost mushrooms, and I am delighted to be able to report that ForestrySA is again able to present Ghost Mushroom Lane in 2022. Ghost Mushroom Lane is a temporary event that occurs in the South-East and is open to the public between May and June each year.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Leader of the Government, stop it! Minister, continue.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: The event is held on a plantation, which ForestrySA takes responsibility for in terms of managing access by the general public. It is a unique family event; a family friendly night walk through a forest to view the luminescent glow of the ghost mushrooms. It's a magical experience that certainly gets a lot of positive media attention in the Limestone Coast and on social media I have seen many, many positive responses to the experience.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Wortley and the leader, stop it!

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I do encourage members to check out these magical mushrooms, known as ghost mushrooms. It's a magical experience.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I'm not sure why people are laughing.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: Members might be thinking perhaps what is a ghost mushroom?

The Hon. J.E. Hanson: I am.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: You are, the Hon. Mr Hanson? A ghost mushroom is a bioluminescent fungus that emits a soft green glow at night. It is found mainly on decaying plant material in cool, wet, conditions, which of course makes the Limestone Coast plantations a perfect environment for it to flourish.

The Hon. K.J. Maher: Unbelievable. Tell us more.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I will tell you more. It is very exciting. ForestrySA, OneFortyOne and other partners, including private tour operators, plan and prepare for several months prior to each season, and that includes cutting and marking new trails aligned to fresh growth of mushrooms so that premium viewing can be ensured to the extent possible; obviously, in nature things can change. Ghost Mushroom Lane has a substantial flow-on effect to the local economy, with 55 per cent of visitors coming from outside the region including 25 per cent from interstate during the 2022 season so far.

I am advised that this event has become so popular in fact that it now forms part of the local tourism calendar, with marketing and promotion through local tourism bodies including Tourism Mount Gambier and the Mount Gambier Visitor Centre. The event has even attracted national attention including a reference in the CSIRO's 2021 publication Wild Mushrooming: A Guide For Foragers. And they refer to it as successfully attracting crowds to what is perhaps Australia's first example of 'myco-tourism'.

Upgrades were made in 2021 to improve the visitor experience and public safety, including increased and improved car parking and a new visitor pass and tour booking system. This tourism attraction is now operating in winter for a fifth season. I am advised that Forestry SA staff have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors on site, with participants enjoying the laneway when the weather is suitable and with the darkest nights providing the best viewing conditions.

Around 100,000 people have enjoyed visiting the site since its inception in 2017, and it is projected that this year alone will see 10,000 visitors to the site. 2022 has seen a late start to the season, so there is still plenty of time if members in this place wish to visit. Indeed, I wish I had thought about it as a country cabinet event last week; it would have been excellent for all of the cabinet to go when they were out talking with regional members of our community.

The PRESIDENT: Minister, I am just a bit mindful of the time this is taking. I know it is an important event.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I will be about 15 seconds. Thank you, Mr President. I understand the ghost mushrooms did not fully start to develop until the last week in May, but the season is now in full swing and it is expected to be one of the best seasons for fungi in the forests. That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it—'fungi in the forests'? The season is expected to end in late June. The 2022 event will generate much-needed revenue for tourism operators in the Limestone Coast, while also showing it as a showcase spot to visit.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Point of order, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: I will listen to your point of order, but the minister has finished.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Supplementary.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Franks, are you sure you have a supplementary question on this?

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I absolutely do, Mr President

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Franks has a supplementary question.