From glow worms to mushrooms, we love all the wild glow-in-the-dark things in nature. Here’s how to find them in coastal Victoria, with your guide, Katy Lylak.


I’ve been a nature nerd obsessed with night photography for many years. So when I learned that there are certain species that combine these two loves perfectly, and naturally grow close to my home in beautiful coastal Victoria, I was stoked. And you can find them too!

The best part is that you don’t need fancy camera equipment to take beautiful pictures of these glow-in-the-dark beauties. A basic DSLR or even your phone can now capture images of these magical glowing species!

Glowshrooms: an amazing night-light, here for a good time, not a long time

With a fruiting season in autumn and spring, the awesome fruits of Omphalotus nidiformis, or Ghost mushroom, are quite a sight, even in daylight.

They enjoy sandy loam soil and can usually be found where there are lots of ti trees or pines. Their creamy colour and frilled disc shapes are quite distinct, but the key identifier is the dark spot in the centre of the cap.

You’re looking for healthy-looking mushrooms that aren’t wilted and broken, as the glow cycle greatly depends on the age and condition of the fruit.

For the 3-5 days that glow can be detected in these mushrooms, it goes through a cycle of brightness.

Initially dull, the glow radiates upwards from the base of the fruit’s gills and onto a full spectrum of light output where it glows even from the top of the cap, before lessening through the upper gills until the night light is extinguished. 

They can be found from late February through to the end of April, and again in October and November as the weather changes and conditions become mild with plenty of rain. 

Ghost mushrooms can be a single fruiting body or a large colony. I’m always excited when I find a really big and beautiful clump of them. It really makes for some magical imagery.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace

Can I see them with just my eyes?

Absolutely! Ghost mushrooms will appear as a white glow to the human eye, and sometimes you can see them from some distance away, once your eyes are adjusted to the dark. I’ve often found mushrooms I didn’t see during the day because they’re glowing so brightly when I go back at night.

How do I capture these glowing images?

You can capture these amazing natural night lights with the most basic of cameras, even your phone! You just need something to hold your camera steady as the exposure time needed is quite long.

For a basic capture, you’ll need to know how to use manual focus and how to open and close your shutter in the dark. You’re after an exposure time of at least 30 seconds (or as long as your phone will allow) or sometimes up to 3-4 minutes, depending on the glow.

Use a torch to light up the mushroom and focus on the gills of the fruit. Then turn your torch off, open your shutter and sit back to listen to the sounds of the world around you. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter some other native wildlife on your adventures!

Make sure you take something waterproof with you to sit on as you’ll be down low on damp ground.

Where can I find these beauties in coastal Victoria?

Ghost mushrooms can be found from the mozzie-infested Warneet to the foreshores of the Mornington Peninsula, where you can listen to the waves crashing on the shore as you admire the lights.

Keep an eye out on your preferred social media outlets for people posting about Omphalotus nidiformis and you can’t go wrong. Groups like Bioluminescence Australia and Victorian Fungi are great places to access info about what’s around.


The Glow Worms of the Otways

Hungry for more glowing nature, I travelled west from my home on the Mornington Peninsula in search of the famous glow worms of the Great Ocean Road.

These glowing creatures have been on my bucket list for years, and I highly recommend a trip out there. It’s definitely worth it!



The glow worms aren’t actual worms and the ‘string of pearls’ that’s visible is basically just a lure for food. The larvae of the fungus gnat, a small fly, live in damp cool forest areas sheltered from light and heat until they reach adulthood.

They put on a nightly glow show for about nine months of the year, and are most active in the warmer months, particularly after rain.

Illuminating their food lures helps to keep them fully nourished well into adulthood, and the cycle can begin all over again.

Along the Great Ocean Road, there are two sites in particular that are havens for these gorgeous little creatures. Melba Gully, near Lavers Hill, and Kennett River, up the Grey River Road. 

Be prepared to stay out late, as once you see them in all their glory it’s hard to leave!

Read more: Unlock The Great Ocean Road’s Lesser-Known Adventures

Melba Gully

Melba Gully provides an easy, short 1km return walk from the car park all the way to the waterfall, with glow worms adorning the edges of the track for most of the journey. The tiny specks of light remind me of little fairy lights and they make the experience really quite magical.


Kennett River

Kennett River is a little bit more of a drive to get in, around 6km up a well-graded dirt road, but with lots of wildlife to keep a good eye out for.

Once you get to the Grey River Picnic Area, it’s a short walk back across the bridge on reasonably flat ground, about 100 metres to the first of the glow worms. There’s also a little grotto to visit here which starts glowing a little earlier than the roadside ‘walls’, as it’s sheltered and gets darker faster.



The bonus of Kennett River is the caravan park at the bottom of the hill which is handy when you’re out until the wee hours being amazed by nature!

Make sure you have your accommodation organised well in advance if you’re heading down the Great Ocean Road. It’s not safe or legal to sleep in your car, and you’ll find lots of signs along the way outlining the fines for doing so.

Follow the Glow and Find Adventure

From an adventure perspective, I absolutely love the wonder of these glowing creatures. The added element of finding everything in the dark, as well as the uncertainty of what you’ll see once you’re out there, can make for an amazingly exciting time.



I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been out to find bioluminescence in nature and I still get so excited every single time. The hike to find them can sometimes be long or tough, but it’s so worth it. Pack a good torch and comfy boots and off you go!

There are many Facebook groups to join, such as Bioluminescence Australia and Bioluminescence Tasmania, as well as info on the Parks Victoria and Great Ocean Road Facebook pages if you want to learn more or get in touch with people who know where to go and what to do. Many of us are happy to help people who are new to nighttime adventuring.

Now’s the perfect time to make a trip, as both the mushies and glow worms are in season right now!