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2nd Fungimap Conference, Rawson, 2003
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© W.G. Leithhead

In May, 2003, I and my wife, Glenyce, attended the 2nd National Fungimap Conference at the pretty little village of Rawson, 35km north of Moe, in central Gippsland. Rawson was contructed decades ago for the workforce building the nearby Thompson River Dam, and nestles quietly in the foothills of the Baw Baw Plateau, surrounded by forests and farmland.

About 90 people attended the conference, which was hosted by the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, and supported by the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, where Fungimap is based. Most were from Victoria, but others were also from NSW, WA, SA, Tasmania, plus visitors from New Zealand and the United Kingdom. There was a core of professional mycologists, plus scores of enthusiastic amateurs like myself. Almost everyone stayed at the Conference Centre at Rawson Village, but I and my wife, Glenyce, stayed at the Rawson Caravan Park, to keep costs down.

Our caravan was parked in the grounds of the Rawson Caravan Park, where the natural soil and vegetation has been conserved as much as is possible. In fact we found for ourselves a goodly assortment of fungi in many parts of the grounds, some of which were gladly received by the conference organisers, as they had not been found during the official forays. Bill at Rawson Caravan Park

Fungi collection 1 Saturday

There were morning foray groups on three days, where each group had an experienced leader with a permit to collect fungi. I found it most instructive to go on these forays, to see fungi expertly located and identified on the spot.

All fungi found were identified and displayed at tables for use in workshops in microscopy, taxonomy, and specialized work on genera such as Mycena, Polyporaceae, Cortinarius, and so on.

On this end of the table can be seen a large Amanita ochrophylla, and also some red-topped Amanita muscaria or perhaps Amanita xanthocephala.

Many Cortinarius species were found, and a specific workshop was held on their identification.

The large specimens here are Cortinarius australiensis, previously known as Rozites australiensis. They have large whitish caps, with rusty spores and a marked white ring with striations. The stem radicates into the ground more than the usual Cortinarius.
Fungi collection 3 Saturday

Here is a collection of polypores from the forays. These were used for a workshop specializing in their identification, especially from microscopic characteristics. Fungi collection 4 Saturday

Deep in a beautiful ferntree gully, our group forages on Saturday morning. This was a particularly rich area for fungi, and we enthusiastically collected a wide range of species. Rawson foray 1 Saturday

This was my first experience at finding truffle-like fungi, including Thaxterogaster basipurpureum, shyly hiding in the banked soil at the side of the track. Rawson foray 2 Saturday

Rummaging in the leaf litter is professional mycologist Dr. Neil Bougher, from Perth. We had found some delicate Crepidotus species on rotting twigs.

Notice some essential items for the well-equipped fungus-hunter, namely:-

1. Magnifying glass on a cord worn around the neck.

2. Truffle-rake with widely-spaced tines, with coloured ribbons to avoid losing it in the leaf litter.

3. Plastic fishing-tackle box for the collection of small fungal specimens.
Rawson foray 3 Saturday

On the way back to Rawson we found others stopped at the roadside near a fine troop of large toadstools seen on the way in. So naturally we all pulled up to join the rubberneckers!

Other tourists passing in their cars must have wondered what on earth we were all doing!
Rawson foray 4 Saturday

"Fungal enthusiasts ooh-ing and ah-ing at a perfect clump of Tricholoma mushrooms in a perfect forest setting of huge roots, ferns and mosses in peak condition!" Rawson foray 5 Saturday

I joined the flurry of shutter bugs with the resulting picture shown here.

A leader drew our attention to the white mould attacking the bases of the fruiting bodies.

"Soon that mould (another fungus) will overwhelm all of these fruiting bodies!", he remarked, "That happens quite often."
Rawson foray 6 Saturday

In this photo the white fluffy mycelium of the attacking mould can be seen quite clearly.

What we call a mould is simply the mycelium, or threadlike hyphae, of fungi which don't produce larger fruiting bodies, but spread spores by simpler mechanisms. They are often called the 'lower' fungi.
Rawson foray 7 Saturday

Next day we forayed into the foothills of the Baw Baw Plateau. After attempting valiantly to penetrate the tangled forests, we opted for the edges of the roads, which turned out to be quite interesting.

Here, a single agaric growing directly in bare soil captured our attention. With experience, such specimens often turn out to be attached to a buried piece of wood. However, we chose to leave this one intact.
Rawson foray group Sunday

This is the nicely shaped gilled fungus close up. I thought it might be the Ghost Fungus (Omphalotus nidiformis), because it grows on stumps and buried wood, but Tom May, mycologist at the Melbourne Herbarium thought that is not quite right. We will never know, because it was left in peace! Rawson foray Sunday

Saturday workshop on the methods of using taxonomic keys for the identification of fungi.

These workshops also trialled computer software being developed by Fungimap.
Keying-out specimens workshop Saturday

Microscopic techniques are invaluable for serious identification of fungi beyond the more easily recognised species.

This Saturday workshop shows enthusiasts learning the ropes from Teresa Lebel (2nd right), a mycologist from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.
Microscopy workshop Saturday

Another workshop in full flight is shown here learning the intricacies of the identification of the delicate genus Mycena, which requires microscopic methods.

At top right is well-known nature photographer and author Bruce Fuhrer.
Mycena identification workshop Saturday

Phlebopus marginatus (formerly Phaeogyroporus portentosus) is probably the largest species in Australia. This one was at the Rawson footy field! I couldn't resist posing with it.

A pored fungus, it grows in grassy areas, and is recorded up to one metre diameter and 29kg. It attracts fungus flies, whose maggots cause rapid putrefaction.
Bill with Phlebopus marginatus

On Sunday a photography workshop was led by Bruce Fuhrer (on left), so we milled around in the forest learning the finer points of fungi photography. Photography workshop 1 Sunday

Bruce explains how to use a modified tripod for those low-down shots so necessary in fungi photography. Photography workshop 2 Sunday

Meanwhile, my wife, Glenyce, found these beauties in the grounds of the Rawson Caravan Park. On the left are two specimens of the large Amanita ochrophylla with its huge bulbous base. On the right is Amanita umbrinella. Fungi from Rawson C.P. 1

More fungi from the caravan park. From top left, Paxillus infundibuliformis; then Cortinarius archeri (purple top), white veil still covering the volva up to the cap edge (perky little thing!); another Paxillus; far right is Russula clelandii (violet cap, brittle flesh); reddish-topped Russula persanguinea (?); lower centre are green young Cortinarius austraveneta. Fungi from Rawson C.P. 2

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