A guide to finding Platypus!
Just saying the name Duck-billed Platypus tells you that this is one strange creature! It was such an oddity that when descriptions and even real specimens reached Europe in the 19th century that it was declared a hoax! To be honest when you first see one for real it is hard to believe it isn’t some sort of elaborate hoax by mother nature – a bill like a bird, a tail of a beaver, teeny little eyes and such big feet!
So one of our first adventures after arriving in Mackay was a day out finding platypus in Eungella National Park. How could we resist the lure of such a creature!
The platypus can only be found in Australia and even in Australia they are not widespread. There are only a few places you have a small possibility of seeing one. And one of those places is at Broken River in Eungella National Park in Northern Queensland. Eungella is an hour’s drive west of Mackay so if you are heading to the Mackay region be sure to add it to your itinerary. (If you don’t know where Mackay is then check out my post all about our ex-pat experiences so far in this Northern Queensland town)
At Broken River there are special viewing platforms where you can sit patiently and wait for that first incredible siting! We have visited 3 times now with a 2/3 success rate. Sadly for my daughter on her one visit they didn’t appear despite us all sitting patiently for over an hour!
So what are platypus? These creatures are classed as a monotreme. It is only one of 5 species of mammals who lay eggs rather than give birth to live young. (The other 4 species are echidna) They are small – 43 cm on average for females and 50 cm for males and covered in a thick brown fur. They are semi-aquatic and carnivorous.
The platypus is also (and I love this!!) venomous!!! Well it lives in Australia so it HAD to be!! The male platypus has a spur on its hind foot that delivers venom!
As well as finding platypus at Eungella National Park there are 25km of graded walking trails through magnificent sub-tropical rainforest to tackle in the park.
Other animals that can be found in the park include possums, pademelons (what is that you are asking!!!!!It is a small marsupial!), eastern long neck turtles and spotted quolls(yep I know – another weird marsupial only found in Australia!!You couldn’t make this stuff up…..)
We were spooked on our first visit when a lot of rustling in in the forest turned out to be a bush turkey!! (Thank goodness as I had visions of catching my husband in my arms if it was a snake!)
There are also lots of beautiful birds to spot – there is a comprehensive list of the 227 birds you could spot at the park at eungella.com so print it off and tick them off as you go! (Get a book too so you know what they actually look like – I now know at least 10 species of bird I had no idea existed before moving to Australia – this includes the plover a bird to be avoided if you wear a toupee!)
Facts and tips for finding platypus!
(and other useful stuff!)
- The platypus is a shy animal and can be difficult to spot – the best time to get a chance of seeing one is at sunrise or sunset (though a cloudy day may also prove succesful).
- The plural of platypus is platypuses (though I think platypi sounds so much better!)
- As I mentioned there are only a few places where you can have a chance of finding platypus in the wild and Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge are some of the most reliable. More information about Finch Hatton Gorge coming soon!
- At Broken River there is an information centre and a small cafe as well as toilets.
Broken River Visitor Information Centre
- Prepare for the drive up to Eungella to be steep one (it is 686 metres above sea level)! Once at the top the view over the Pioneer Valley is rather beautiful!
- Take a picnic! Or book accommodation and stay in the park – camping, cabins and hotel options are all available.
- Check out the official website which details accommodation and and other facilities in the Eugella area.
For more information about the Mackay region visit mackayregion.com and/or drop into the visitor’s centre in Mackay where the helpful staff will give you all the information you need to have a great holiday!
Mackay Visitor Information Centre
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