When people think of winter they often think of dull skies, dull weather and equally dull moods. I personally love winter, and there's a very good reason. To me, winter heralds in the burst of colour that I wait for all year long. Reds, blues, oranges and just about any colour you can imagine.
Walk through any Australian forest and pay attention and you'll see what I mean. Take your time, look around. The burst of colour I most look forward to is fungi.
Fungi should come with a warning. Not because it's toxic, but because looking for it and particularly photographing it, is highly addictive.
Fungi comes in many shapes, sizes and colours and they're not all just your traditional ‘mushroom’ shape; there are jellies, stars, corals, leathers, clubs, cups and many more, so there's a lot to consider when identifying; such as whether there are gills, spores or spikes present underneath and the colour of the stem.
I always take a mirror with a handle to look down low and get a better view, as I believe the fungi should never be touched and should be left where it thrives.
My husband Michael and I spend as many hours during the brief fungi season visiting as many ‘hotspots’ as we can, including Bush Heritage's Liffey Valley Reserves. We photograph and document as much as possible.
Bush Heritage protects 287ha of a spectacular habitat in the region, including; Myrtle-Beech – Sassafrass forest and White (Manna) Gum wet forest, which is endangered in Tasmania. These wet forests are particularly rich with many fungi species due to the damp nature of the habitat.
A damp habitat is important in helping the absorption of dissolved food, so fungi are usually more prolific and more colourful in areas of high moisture.
Anyone can visit the Liffey Valley Reserves protected area and walk the trails. What takes most people 90 minutes at a steady pace, usually takes us around 4 to 5 hours. That’s why we rarely photograph mosses and lichen … we’d never, ever get out of the forest!
Every corner turns up something beautiful, and apart from the pops of colour, the different habitats and fresh Tasmanian air make the walk even better.
So rug up, stay dry, pack your lunch, grab your camera and enjoy yourself.
Find out more about visiting the magnificent Liffey Valley area and walking trail information.
Photos © Michael Williams / It's A Wildlife