14. Go on a Mushroom Tunnel Tour

Li Sun Mushrooms

Grown in a disused Railway tunnel in Mittagong, the mushroom tunnel was originally built in 1886 to house a single-track railway line. By 1919, it had to be replaced with the still-functioning double-track tunnel to its right, built to cope with the rise in traffic on the route following the founding of Canberra, Australia’s purpose-built capital city.

Since there is currently only one other disused railway tunnel used for mushroom growing in the whole of Australia, these mushrooms have evolved to fit an extremely specialised environmental niche: they are species designed for architecture. The tunnel for which these mushrooms have been so carefully developed is 650 metres long and about 30 metres deep. Buried under solid rock and deprived of the New South Wales sunshine, the temperature holds at a steady 15º Celsius. The fluorescent lights flick on at 5:30 a.m. every day, switching off again exactly 12 hours later.

The current exotic mushroom operations, established by Dr. Arrold in 1987, are unique in Australia. The environmental conditions in the tunnel, namely low temperature and high humidity, are ideal for growing half a dozen varieties of exotic mushrooms. The particular environment in the tunnel is very close to the atmospheric conditions experienced in the mountainous regions of China, Japan and Korea where these types of mushrooms grow naturally.

Interesting fact: The humidity level fluctuates seasonally, and would reach an unacceptable aridity in the winter if Dr. Arrold did not wet the floors and run a fogger during the coldest months.

Address:  16 Davy St, Mittagong
Open:  By Appointment Only
Website:  www.li-sunexoticmushrooms.com.au
Phone:  02 4871 2879
Email:  lisunexoticmushrooms@gmail.com

Posted in 52 Things to do around Berrima.