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A guide to hunting gold top magic mushies

A guide to hunting gold top magic mushies

A guide to hunting Australian gold top mushrooms by Australian mushroom hunters. This guide is about the most common magic mushroom in Victoria, and in most states of Australia. This is the psilocybe subaeruginosa. They are also known as gold tops, wavy caps or subs. Gold tops have a caramel coloured cap with a thick white stem and gills that are a creamy brown in colour. The stems go blue when handled.

Gold tops are easy to find and identify when you know what you are looking for. But you need to know what you are doing or you could end up eating a poisonous mushroom and get very sick and even die.

Identifying gold tops

Gold tops are a distinctive magic mushroom that is one of the most potent of all psychedelic mushrooms.

Cap: The cap grows from 1.5 to 5 cm across and has a bulging cone shape with a small central bump. They are translucent when fresh and dry to a caramel/olive brown colour fading to a light brown or dirty white as they dry. Sometimes they have a wavy appearance. The gills at the edge of the cap point upwards.

Gills: The gills can go from being broadly to narrowly attached to the stem. They are cream when the mushie is immature changing to the colour of chocolate milk as they mature.

Stem: The stem is from 30 to 125 mm in length and 2 to 5 mm thick. It is shiny white in colour that goes blue when handled. It is uniform and sturdy as well as straight with a slight twist. It can be short and fat or long and thin depending on the conditions the mushie is growing in. Gold caps are usually swollen at the base.

Spore print: Its spores are a purplish-brown colour. Before you take gold caps, make a spore print so you know exactly what you are taking. To do this, take the cap off the mushie and put it on foil or a piece of paper face down. Leave overnight and the cap will drop spores. If they are a dark purplish brown colour then they are psychedelic mushrooms.

Season: Gold caps grow from May through August in Australia and New Zealand.

Habitat: They can grow in woody debris, sandy woody soils, in decaying piles of twigs and leaves, bark and gardens. You can find them growing singly or in clumps.

Strength: Fresh there is 0.79 mg of psilocybin and 0.23 mg psilocin per gram. Gold caps have 8 mg of psilocybin and 1.5 mg psilocin per gram dried. Gold caps are usually made up of 90 percent water and it takes 10 grams of fresh mushies to get 1 gram of dry material. When drying them some of the psilocin evaporates so they are stronger when fresh.

How much to take: Depending on how experienced you are 8 to 30 grams of fresh gold caps or 1 to 3.5 of dried ones. Taking more after the initial dose will not make you higher. It will only make the current effects last longer. Get yourself scales so you can weigh out your dose until you know what a gram looks like. As a guide, three medium-sized mushies usually equals a gram.

Magic mushrooms found in Australia

If you’re in different parts of Australia the following is a list of the magic mushies you can find in each state:

  • Victoria
    • Gymnopilus sp.
    • Gymnopilus purpuratus
    • Panaeolus cinctulus
    • Psilocybe semilanceata
    • Psilocybe alutacea
    • Psilocybe subaeruginosa.
  • Australian Capital Territory
    • Gymnopilus sp.
    • Panaeolus cinctulus
    • Psilocybe subaeruginosa
  • New South Wales
    • Gymnopilus sp.
    • Panaeolus cinctulus
    • Psilocybe cubensis
    • Panaeolus cyanescens
    • Psilocybe subaeruginosa
    • Psilocybe alutacea
    • Psilocybe papuana
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
    • Gymnopilus sp.
    • Panaeolus cinctulus
    • Panaeolus cyanescens
    • Psilocybe cubensis
    • Psilocybe subaeruginosa
  • South Australia
    • Gymnopilus sp.
    • Gymnopilus purpuratus
    • Panaeolus cinctulus
    • Psilocybe alutacea
    • Psilocybe subaeruginosa
  • Tasmania
    • Gymnopilus sp
    • Panaeolus cinctulus
    • Psilocybe alutacea
    • Psilocybe semilanceata
    • Psilocybe subaeruginosa
  • Western Australia
    • Gymnopilus sp.
    • Gymnopilus purpuratus
    • Panaeolus cinctulus
    • Psilocybe alutaceae
    • Psilocybe subaeruginosa.

Mushroom hunting advice

Something worth keeping in mind when gold cap mushrooms hunting is that they become a Class A drug as soon as you pick them. This is the same class as cocaine, heroin and crack. So, they are highly illegal once they are no longer in the ground.

Make sure you have a cover story ready in case you get questioned by the cops. Take your dog with you so you can say you are walking your dog. It is also a good idea to take a camera. Not only to photograph your mushies for identification but you can always say you are taking photos of the area if you get questioned.

Take a paper bag with you to put the mushies inside when you pick them. Do not use a plastic bag as they sweat and will turn them to mush. You can also use a plastic container lined with newspaper but keep it safely stashed in your backpack. You don’t want to get caught with it visibly in your hands. The cops are unlikely to search you if you have a plausible story. But, if you have it in your hands, they will bust you.

Cover stories

If, by chance, you ever do get caught just say you are studying wild fungi for an assignment. Or, you could say you are looking for wild mushies for dinner. This is a just a few examples but never say you are looking for magic mushies. Whatever you do, do not act nervous. Stay cool and respectful. Even if you do get caught they will probably only ask you to empty out your bag if they think you are innocent.

It can also be a good idea to pick other mushrooms as well as gold caps. You will really make you look innocent if picked up by the cops if they find you carrying a variety of mushrooms. They can hardly accuse you of looking for magic mushies if you are carrying more than one variety. If they accuse you of this, then you can act innocent and ask which ones are the magic ones.

Avoid being paranoid when out mushie hunting. In fact, if you tend to be paranoid then you probably should skip the magic mushies as they will only make the paranoia worse. You should only take them with a clear head and in a stress-free situation. And only with people around that you trust.

Searching for gold caps

Gold caps grow on twigs and woodchips and sometimes they hide under grass. You can usually find them in woody areas but they don’t grow on trees. When searching, keep your eyes on the ground.

These yellow top mushrooms Australia don’t like the sun or heat and thrive growing in shaded areas. They love the rain and when mushroom season is really wet, they grow bigger and are more abundant. Gold caps are too small when their immature with a button like caps that connect to the stalk. Leave these to grow and come back for them later when they grow bigger. Also, they’ll leave their spores in the ground to grow the next time that it rains. The cap is velvety soft, smooth and damp. Their stems are thick and feel solid to touch and can even be curvy.

When the mushie matures, its gills become exposed as the cap grows bigger. Their gills are the fleshy part that drops the spores so more can grow in the future. These are a light coloured when young and they darken up as they mature.

The caps can vary in shape. Sometimes they’re wavy and aren’t symmetrical or they can be flat and even shaped. Often you will see them with holes in them where a caterpillar has been feasting on them. I wonder what a tripping caterpillar looks like.

Sometimes gold caps grow alone with others scattered in the area. Other times they can grow in large clusters and clumped together. It’s hard to pick single ones of these without disturbing the whole cluster.

Blue bruising

These mushrooms have a thick stalk. When you squeeze it gently, it feels spongy. This is the water in it. It will also go blue. The blue colour tells you this is a psychedelic mushroom. This is an indication of the psilocybin that changes into psilocin when you eat it and takes you on a trip. The bluer the stalk goes the more potent the mushroom. They also have a sheen about the stem that almost looks like a glossy wood stain.

Often the caramel coloured cap fades around the ring. Beware, there is a highly toxic mushroom that looks similar. But it is smaller with an orangey coloured cap. Its stem is white and can have orange on it as well. Gold caps have a white stem that can have blue and grey on it. Never orange.

Where magic mushies grow

Gold caps grow in a variety of different environments:

  • They love mulch. Piles of mulch like the ones you find in garden and park flower beds. Take a look in your own garden if you mulch. You may be lucky to find a stash in your own backyard.
  • You can find them near rivers and creeks where there are trees on the ground or lots of fallen tree branches and twigs. They tend to prefer land that is not flat. So, you may find them on the banks of watercourses.
  • Tan bark. They also love tan bark and grow between it the small pieces of it. This is an ideal habitat for these mushrooms.
  • Woody areas. Gold caps love to grow in woody areas. Along walking tacks where there is a lot of woody matter in parks and bushy areas.
  • Tall grass. Gold caps love to grow in tall grasses where there is a lot of matter dropped on the ground. It gives them shelter and it is a damp environment without being too wet. The soil will be softer in these areas making it easier for mushrooms to grow. Mushies found in tall grass will typically have longer, thicker stems than those growing in other areas.

For more information about habitat and photos of gold caps, check out this thread.

When to find gold caps

In Victoria, the season starts in April after good rain so the season may not start until the middle of May. It only takes a night of rain for them to start growing and they grow very fast. So, it is a good idea to wait until there has been a few days of rain before you go mushie hunting. First thing, early in the morning is the best time to look for them.

Make sure you take a pair of scissors with you so you can cut them off at the base of the stem. This way you leave the roots behind and they can keep growing. Avoid pulling them out of the ground because they cannot regenerate when you do not leave the roots behind. If you forget to take scissors, pinch them at the base of the stem to break them off.

Storing fresh magic mushies

Now you have picked you mushies it is time to eat them. When you get a big haul store them in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for up to five days. Do not freeze them because this will make them turn to mush.

When you eat fresh mushrooms remember about 10 grams equals 1 gram dried. So, you will need to eat about 30 grams of fresh mushrooms to get a strong effect compared to 3 grams of dried material. This is a good dose for inexperienced trippers to take. Obviously you can eat more, especially if you have taken them before.

You can dry any mushrooms you have left over and store them for as long as you like.

Drying gold caps

To dry your gold caps, put them on a flat surface. Remove any dirt and get rid of any bugs that may have made it in to the paper bag.

Now you need something to dry them on. A cake cooling rack is perfect or something similar Chicken wire also works well if you have some. The air needs to reach all parts of the mushrooms so they dry evenly. You can even use a newspaper to dry them on.

Don’t use the oven on a high heat to dry your mushies. The high heat kills the psychoactive ingredient in them. Put them in front of a fan heater on a low heat setting overnight. Also, you don’t want the fan on high as it will blow your mushies away.

It will take 24 hours for the mushrooms to dry but they may still not be dried enough. You’ll want the stems to break when bent. If they don’t break, then there’s still moisture in them. You don’t want to store them with any moisture left in them as they will sweat and eventually rot all the mushrooms stored together.

There are three ways to get gold cap mushrooms dried – the oven, a DampRid chamber or a food dehydrator.

Drying mushies in the oven

To dry your mushrooms in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
  2. Leave it to heat up for 20 minutes and then turn it off. Open the oven door a little bit.
  3. Let the oven cool down for 5 minutes. Put the mushrooms dried using the fan into the oven on several layers of newspaper. Leave the oven door open.
  4. Leave them in there for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove them from the oven and let them cool down for 10 minutes.
  6. Check they are totally dry. If they are still not completely dry, repeat the process.

Drying the mushies using a DampRid chamber

You can by DampRid at any supermarket. Get a container large enough to fit the drying rack or you can use a plastic vegetable steamer. Whatever works best.

Empty the DampRid into the bottom of the container and sit the drying rack with the fan dried mushrooms on it on top. Seal with the lid and leave to finish drying for 24 hours. Again, check they a fully dry and store as detailed below.

DampRid is expensive and you may look suspicious if you regularly buy it at your local store.

Using a dehydrator

If you have a dehydrator, use that to finish drying your gold caps. Pop them in and turn the heat to low. Do not be tempted to use a higher setting or you will ruin all your hard work and destroy the psychoactive compound in the mushrooms. Leave them to dry overnight.

And, again, check to make sure they are completely dry. Put them back into the dehydrator for a while if they still contain moisture.

Storing dry gold caps

Once they are fully dry, put them into an airtight glass container. Get some gel packets of desiccant. You may have some lying around in the house in old vitamin pill bottles or shoe boxes. These absorb moisture. Pop them into the jar with the dry mushrooms so they absorb any moisture while stored. If you do not want these touching your mushrooms, tape them to the lid of the jar.

You can also grind the dry mushrooms into a fine powder using a coffee grinder for storage. This is a good way of storing them and means each dose will have an equal amount of the psychoactive ingredient. Grinding them for storage saves space and it is easier to use them. You can even store them in gel caps so they are easier to take.


A guide to hunting gold top magic mushies


Before you take the powdered mushrooms mix them with lemon juice. This changes the psilocybin into psilocin. This is what happens anyway when you take them but this makes them work quicker. Let it sit for a few minutes and use in your tea or a glass of fresh fruit juice.

Once your mushrooms are dry, store them in a cool, dark place. Now you have a supply on hand outside of the magic mushroom season. A guide to hunting gold top magic mushies by Australian mushroom hunters is now just beginning. Check back soon for more articles.




76 comments on “A guide to hunting gold top magic mushies
  1. Suzie Martins

    Very interesting content, we will be happy to be added up.

  2. Vivien

    Great article. I have been trying to find this information for a while and identified the mushrooms by posting the names and looking at the images on google. Finally I have something to go by.

  3. Marcelo

    Where can i find in South Australia?

  4. Kat

    Thanks for the info.
    I live in eastern subburbs Melbourne and have found them in six different locations in last 2 days.
    I’ve also met 2 other people on the hunt and had some great chats.
    So good

    • Ms Mushy

      I’m in the Eastern Subs too and have found some great delights on my adventures roaming about. Great to see more women joining in on the foraging Kat!

      • Helen Atzarakis

        Kat, I want to try it for the first time. I am in Richmond Melb and there is lots of rain. Can you help point me in the right direction? Helen

      • Chantal

        I was wondering if there is anyone in Hobart that could teach how to hunt for mushrooms willing to pay for the experience

    • jay

      would you mind sharing the locations? I also live in the eastern suburbs and I’ve been trying to find spots for a while now and I’d love to know! 🙂

    • Pbuddd

      Are mushies still growing in Melbourne?

    • Ella

      Where about a did you find them. I’m from the same area as you and am on the hunt

    • Cloud

      I’d love to know of spots in the outer eastern suburbs of melbourne too!

    • Janine

      Hi 🙂
      I’m in the Warragul area, I’m very keen to go on my own search yet I’m not entirely confident, any advice, tips, recommendations or people that I could meet up with for a wonder?

    • Marion

      Hi Kat
      I was wondering if you still hunt for magic mushrooms in your area. I’ve been interested for a while and whilst I do look avidly in the season I still haven’t had any luck.
      Can you please give me a specific location?
      I’m a 63 Yr old woman with horticultural experience and am keen to try magic mushrooms.

  5. Peter

    Psilocybe subaeruginosa – I’ve got these growing in the yard, I was told that they are toxic, or are they ?

    • Peter Rabbit

      no they are not toxic, they are the most potent and maybe the best of all magic mushrooms!
      do you still have them now?

  6. Kathy J

    For anyone needing help identifying possible sites, you can use the interactive map.

    You can add sighting locations to the map for different species, and get an idea of where to look. Note that this relies on user reports, so it isn’t necessarily complete. If you do decide to use this, and are successful, please report your sightings to help out the next guy/gal 🙂

    • Sid

      Hi Kathy, just wondering where I can find the interactive map , the one you mentioned in your comment.
      Thanks heaps

    • Genene

      Hi Kathy
      Can you please add the link to the map you mentioned?

      • Ben

        Do you know were I can find Gold Tops around Victoria

        • Loriner Balmain

          I have always found Macedon ranges or The Mornington Peninsula to be great locations. I have never returned home empty handed.

      • Chiara Gonzalez

        Does anyone know any specific spots in Qld to find them? Also I heard golden tops only grow in cow manure, has anyone has this misconception too?

        • Sam

          Up near Samford valley (NW Brisbane suburb) is supposed to be a good spot, but I had lousy luck there last year looking.

        • Natureboy

          Chairs Gonzalez, Yes GT mostly grow in cow / horse poo… BUT I
          Have found them growing just on soil and I suspect that particular site previously he’d manure and spores. My suggestion to anyone searching GT’s is to befriend a cow farmer and BE UP FRONT ON YOUR INTENTIONS as honesty pays. If he (the farmer) is cool, then respect his property and a slab of beer or bottle of spirits shows your appreciation to the good he’s done for you. Good Luck.

      • Ashlander

        Hi Can you please link me to the interactive map thanks

    • Logan

      Where is the interactive map being mentioned? In Vic? Cheers Logan

    • Peaches

      Hello, just wondering how I can find this interactive map you mentioned?

      • Ryan P

        I’m new to the wonderful world of fungi so please excuse a dumb question.

        Is it possible to find shrooms in greater Melbourne/ regional Victoria in October?
        From what I gather the weather seems ripe.
        Consecutive days of rain with warmer weather and higher humidity. Or I won’t find anything because all the fallen leaves etc are all but dry and so no food remains for them to grow?

    • Ezo

      What is the name of the app ?

  7. Nass

    Anyway to get a good top spore print to melb area. Planing to do a mycology self conducted research of the print. Any trusted sites? Thanks

  8. Gibbo

    Aren’t the dung loving Psilocybe cubensis colloquially referred to as gold tops? Everyone I know down here in Victoria we refer to them as subs. Just a thought

  9. Scott Burgess

    They can be found everywhere if u know what u are looking for, cow paddocks around shaded areas and in long wet grass is good. I get them down the Tewkesbury near Wisemans Ferry, up in the hills near Kurrajong. They can be found anywhere in right conditions. U want to head out at dawn after a good rain

  10. Noah

    Now i know where to hunt for mushrooms. Thank you for the tips, it helps

  11. Deborah Smith

    Thank you for sharing this post. Now I know where I can found magic mushrooms. Looking forward to more articles regarding this magic mushrooms. I hope I can learn more.

  12. Lemarchand

    Curious to how much people buy and sell per gram(dried) in Australia/NSW.

  13. Gremlin

    G’day, I live near Mudgee, NSW. Are there any hotspots near where I am?
    I hear they grow good up in the Blue Mountains also, wondering if it’s not too late in the season

  14. Gypsy

    Where find now I live Elizabeth north

  15. John

    I found some gold caps or what is described as a good cap but I want to know if there are poisonous ones which k similar to gold caps

  16. Kosail

    Any help around Deniliquin/Southern Riverina?

  17. Shez

    Anybody know of any places near Portland Vic I don’t know any1 and last year I looked everywhere with very little luck, Any help would be gratefully appreciated.

    • Bear

      We were staying in bright Victoria and tried loads of places, we travelled about 45mins to Stanley to pine forests and hit the jack pot. So my tip is: look for pine forests that are short, ones you have to crouch to get in, not the giant ones that you can walk through.. loads of pine needles = lots of mushrooms. They definitely exist in Victoria, good luck!

  18. ShubOM

    Any help around Goldcost?

    • Kyle t

      I use to be able to pick them from cow droppings in coomera. I haven’t been for a while but I’ve heard there’s alot up at Mount tambourine !

  19. Jamie elton

    Where abouts in qld and around what time can i find em

  20. Susie

    I’m finding 2 types similar. One looks like the sub & other ID as cyanescens. Is this possible as they are not on Victorian List. I find 2 types & im sure it’s not alutacea. I’ll take more photos this year & spend more time trying to catorgiruse. I can ID 7 & my fave Amanita too, 6 listed & this wavy cap looking one -cyanescens) I’m sure in Gippsland.

    • Joe

      Hi susie, I’m in gippsland near traralgon and could use some help identifying some mushies. I found that one of the local state parks near by have some subs listed as confirmed finds in this particular park. But being that there is one that looks like the right one but is wrong , I need some help if your willing.

  21. Mikey

    Around bright area be Victoria I’ve been hunting but no luck I know they out any help with a spot will b respected

    • Big Heffa

      Think it’s too early in some areas. I went to my usual spot and they still haven’t grown for me.

    • Bear

      Stanley forests, the shorter trees! 45min drive x

      • Mathew Rogers

        Any good spot in Mortdale or oatly

      • Philosophg

        I have collected two types of magic mushrooms here in Victoria Australia over three decades, Goldcaps and the more powerful Bluemeanies which are easy to identify because of their blue stained stems which at their most potent just before they die can bleed a bright fluorescent blue dye that is so vivid you feel like you are tripping before you even take them. My question is, do Goldcaps also have blue stained stems because I can not for the life of me remember what criteria I used to use in their identification, are the gold coloured mushrooms pictured Goldcaps???

  22. Jas V

    Ettiqette required .
    Please don’t damage fences and FFS stay clear of cattle.
    I only mention this because the {} are thick here now after ☔.
    Probably best to make some contribution somewhere… Like fire or drought relief. Nimbin district.

  23. Terence Mack

    What’s the chances of finding them in a humid December SE Qld after first rain in months of drought, a massive storm downpour, any chance? And how come you make no mention of cow paddocks? That’s the only place ive ever found them here!

  24. Rachel

    someone please help in need of a new spot to go picking as mine was destroyed

  25. Valerio

    Hunting Mushroom – Willing to help a friend?

  26. Harvey Ramsey

    Thanks for this guide, I managed to hunt down some Psilocybes and Panaeolus cyanescens in Queensland this morning.

    • kobe colosiom

      where abouts in qld did you find your batch bro

      • john

        very new to this and looking to do my first hunt I’m on the mid north coast will they be out after all the rain ? also have read it help with depression and anxiety my mother is battling cancer and was hoping this might help ?

    • Valerio

      Willing to help a friend?

    • Sarah

      Where did you go please help

      • Terence

        What’s the chances of finding them in a humid December SE Qld after first rain in months of drought, a massive storm downpour, any chance? And how come you make no mention of cow paddocks? That’s the only place ive ever found them here!

      • Jared

        Haha I think you might be thinking about cubensis? Subs like to grow on wood and in damp forests. I have a mulch pile that is quite brilliant for them.
        This article didn’t specify which ones it’s talking about but going by the habitat description and the mushroom characteristics, I’d say it’s referencing Psilocybe Subaeruginosa.

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