Truffle hunting in Victoria: where to unearth the fancy fungi

Black truffles on a wooden platter with a metal truffle shaver

Nicola Dowse

Posted July 04, 2022

They might not be much to look at, but truffles are a seasonal culinary delicacy loved around the world and available to dig up right here in Victoria.

Black, knobbly, and covered in dirt - not the way you might usually describe a culinary delight. 

But when it comes to truffles, that’s exactly what farmers and fans will be on the lookout for during this truffle season. 

Winter is the peak time for truffles in Australia, with the gourmet black fungi available to be unearthed – quite literally – between June and early September.  

“We’re going to produce probably about three tonnes of truffle in Victoria this year,” says Nigel Wood, director of Truffle Melbourne, a Gippsland-based business that both sells truffles and organises truffle hunts for the public.

Black gold 

For Wood, his love of truffles started after a trip to Spain when he came across a small town where truffles were so abundant that they featured on even the most casual of dining menus.  

“In a small village like this if every café and restaurant have truffle on the menu during the season, then it's going to work in foodie Melbourne,” he says.  

He’d be right. Australia is the fourth biggest producer of truffles globally (after Spain, Italy and France), with Victoria particularly well placed to cultivate the coveted fungus. That’s because truffles need cold weather to ripen, something which our state has in spades.  

The first Truffle Melbourne festival launched in 2014 and the event has been a hit ever since, with the latest event in June 2022 attracting tens of thousands of guests. Wood believes the popularity of the truffle is two-fold. 

“I like to say that they're an affordable luxury for just three months of the year. And the aroma is just so different from anything else - they work so well with just about any ingredient.” 


Truffle Melbourne founder Nigel Wood with guests and his two Australian shepherd dogs uncovering a truffle on his farm

Pigs were formerly used in truffle hunting, but modern cultivators rely on dogs as they won't try to eat the fungus.

Hunting truffles 

Truffle Melbourne cultivates two types of truffle on their farm; the widely known French Black Winter Truffle (tuber melanosporum, also known as the Périgord truffle) and the Bianchetto Truffle (tuber borchii) which is a white truffle with a “cheesy, garlicky, almost petroleum like aroma.” 

Like the majority of modern truffle farmers, Wood uses dogs to unearth his truffles, despite the old-fashioned, bucolic depictions of pigs (or more accurately, sows) snuffling out truffles. “It's the dog or the hog,” he says. “And it's always the dog because basically for them it's just a game.” 

“If a sow finds a truffle, it’s going to eat the truffle. That's not a really good look.” 

It’s certainly not what you want when you’re running public truffle hunts, which are so popular on Wood’s farm that this year they sold out by the end of January. He credits the high demand to the public’s desire to understand the provenance of their food.  

“What people are looking for is that experience where they can actually smell the truffle in the ground, see how it's harvested, and then enjoy the taste.” 

A typical public truffle hunt involves guests being taken out to the truffière (orchard in which the truffles are cultivated) as the specially trained dogs sniff out the elusive treat. The dogs will scratch the spot where they smell a truffle, allowing for the farmer to carefully uncover it 

Depending on the producer, you might also get the chance to pull truffles out the ground yourself before enjoying them back at the farmstead.


A selection of pizzas, including one covered in black truffles, coming out of a woodfire oven

Truffle pairs well with eggs, cheese and other dairy products, as well as with chicken and even chocolate.

How to eat truffles 

If you can’t nab a spot on a truffle hunt this season, you can still enjoy this year’s truffle harvest at home and at restaurants throughout Melbourne.  

From now until the last weekend in August, Truffle Melbourne is hosting a pop-up stall at Queen Victoria Market where you can buy farm fresh truffles (starting at $2 per gram) as well as truffle products like truffle honey, salts and pasta sauces. You can also buy the truffles online. 

For those treating themselves to some truffles at home, Wood has some advice.  

“I always say simple is best with truffles,” he says. “I really do like truffle scrambled eggs or a truffle omelette.” 

Wood also recommends splitting an entire wheel of brie in half, putting a layer of truffles in the middle (“make a brie sandwich effectively”), and wrapping it in foil to allow the truffles to infuse the cheese for a few days before eating.  

Truffles also pair well with dairy products, as well as root vegetables, pasta, rice, poultry and chocolate. Or try RACV City Club Executive Chef Jason Camillo’s recipe for truffled polenta.  

You can also infuse alcohol with truffles. “We make our own truffle cocktails,” says Wood. “You can basically just chop up some truffle and put it in a bottle of vodka or a bottle of gin and the aroma goes right through the alcohol after a few days.” 

“Whether it’s newbies or whether it’s diehards, a lot of people in Melbourne really love their truffles.”