Where to Spot Wild Platypus

December 13, 2015 Wing N. 1 Comments

Aboriginals believe spotting platypuses in the wild is a good omen and the encounter will bring you luck.  Platypuses are quite surreal in their appearance.  These cuties have duck bill, beaver tail, and webbed feet and are the only mammals that lay eggs to give birth.  They are awesome, but very hard to find in nature.  Platypuses are shy in nature and can dive underwater for 30-40 seconds at a time and will come up to the surface for 10-20 seconds to recover before diving again.  If they notice that you are there making lots of noises, you're almost guaranteed they'll just hide under plants and stay out of view during their recovery time.  So be sure to keep it hush hushed if you wish for an encounter.

Learn more about Platypuses here.

Before diving into the locations to find these gorgeous creatures, we must understand their habits.  You can search for hours for them during the day and might not even get the sight of a tail.  Platypuses are nocturnal and hunts at night.  To find them when there is daylight you must either seek for them at dawn or dusk.  They will be hunting and going up and down the water in timed intervals.  Find them floating about posing for pictures and selfies with you while they're trying to catch a breath.


1. Yungaburra Platypus Viewing Platform. (Queensland, Australia)

This is the star of the show, we were able to spot over half a dozen platypuses in the course of half an hour.  The Platypus viewing platform is located in a town Yungaburra on the Tablelands about 2 hours drive from Cairns. Upon arrival, people tend to look down from this viewing platform praying for a sighting.  Don't wait there, you won't see a thing.  Instead, walk down towards the bridge and on the side of it will be a trail along the river.  You will probably see many others seeking these magical little creatures. We were there in August and as long as you are quiet, the chances are you will see at least one of them.

Tip: look for bubbles, when there are big bubbles concentrated at a point it means a platypus is going out of breath and will surface soon.

Here's what trip advisor had to say about the location here.

2. Lake Elizabeth in the Otway forest.  (Victoria, Australia)

If you won't be in Queensland during your visit you can also try Lake Elizabeth.  Platypus or not, this is a location worth visiting.  The lake is unique with timber in the middle of the lake reflecting beautifully off the water.

The easy way:

The platypus viewing is commercialized and you can easily book a canoe tour . You will have a tour guide meeting  you at the car park and they will provide you with information as you walk towards the lake.  Then from there two canoes will be taken out during dusk and everyone will be on the lookout for platypuses on the water.  The tour is $85 per adult, so naturally as the broke backpacker we are, we opted out.

The hard way:

We came to Lake Elizabeth looking and searching for platypuses.  At the end, we believe we glimpsed at one, but it was pretty hard to tell and we were feeding lots of mosquitoes.  It's definitely a luck thing and that's why a sighting is valued by aboriginals.  However, we did catch the canoe tour walking back after getting off the canoe and the tour guide pointed out at various interesting things in the night forest.  We were able to see glow worms light up like the night sky under a canopy of vegetation.  That alone was well worth walking through the dark trail.