7 April 2018
My son really wanted to see a platypus in the wild. We saw them twice in captivity, Sydney’s WildLife Zoo and Melbourne Zoo. Tasmania is supposed to be one of the best places to see them. With our visit here almost done the only platypus we’ve seen in Tassie was at a Hobart museum… not in the wild, not even alive. To be fair, they are especially hard to spot.
This afternoon we drove to Warrawee Forest, about 100 km northwest of Launceston. Platypus Pond in Mersey River was said to be the premier place to spot platypus. I found the trail map online. It seemed simple enough. We drove down Shale Road as far as we could until it was blocked. From there we set off on foot down the remainder of the road where we found the first trail of two trails. It started ok but the further we went the more adventerous it got. It was not what we expected but we could follow the trail markers through the bush. Clearly we took the path less travelled.
Platypus Pond had all the trademarks of a good habitat. There were plenty of animal tracks on the waters edge but no platypus to be found. The real problem we found was platypus are nocturnal so they are best spotted at dusk and dawn. A poorly marked trail, no other hikers, and no mobile phone signal meant we needed to backtrack before we lost sunlight. We raced the sunset to get back to Shale Road. There we found others at the river’s edge. Talking with them we found out that Platypus Pond had been flooded and their habitat destroyed a few years ago. The overgrown trail and lack of hikers started to make sense. Despite our lack of success, not all was lost.
Just when we were ready to give up, bam, a platypus! I wish I could have photographed it. They only come up for air occassionally and are difficult to see, let alone focus a camera, before they disappear again. I’m just glad my son finally got to see a platypus in the wild, albeit briefly.
Mersey River in Warrawee Forest
Platypus at Hobart’s Tasmanian Museum