An underground sensation has been stirring in Australia since 1999. That's when the country's first truffles were harvested, following years of careful preparation, and as a nation we've embraced this black gold of haute cuisine ever since.
To see how the prized fungi are farmed firsthand, there's nothing better than to join a truffle hunt and tasting at Black Cat Truffles. This truffiere on the edge of Victoria's Creswick State Forest, just outside of Ballarat, boasts more than 1000 French and English oak trees with truffles slowly, moodily growing on their roots.
To help you sniff them out, you'll have a little animal assistance from Black Cat's resident dogs, Ella, Harry and Narla (pigs are famously naturally drawn to truffles, but you don't want to fight one for the rights to its find). Farmers Andres and Lynette Haas will be there too, sharing their truffle-related knowledge, tales and tasting notes. You'll also get to try a selection of truffle-infused dishes, ranging from oozy d'Affinois cheese to potato stacks and ice cream.
This is a quintessentially winter activity — truffles aren't in season for long — so prepare to rug up, pull on your wellies and get enveloped in the highland mists.
Black Cat's Truffle Hunts and Tastings run from June to August. If you're really enamoured with the catch of the day, it's yours to take home for $2.50 per gram.
To find more winter adventures in Ballarat, Daylesford and the surrounds, visit the Wander Victoria website.