Where To See a Platypus in Australia

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Where To See a Platypus in Australia

When we embarked on our Queensland road trip we were intent to explore one of Australia’s most beautiful landscapes and to track down Australia’s most fascinating animals in the wild. Creatures like the tree kangaroo, cassowary bird and one of Australia’s most unusual and lovable critters, the platypus!

While going to a zoo will guarantee you a platypus viewing, we would rather see the animal thriving in its own natural habitat. This post will show you exactly where to see a platypus in Australia without having to search for days on end.

Platypus Sign

Where to see a platypus in the wild?

What is a Platypus?

The platypus is a unique animal that lives only on the continent of Australia, specifically Tasmania and along the Eastern Coast. They used to inhabit South Australia but are no longer found in the state due to being over-hunted for fur in the early 20th century.

Here are some cool facts about the platypus:

  • Along with echnidas, platypuses are monotremes, the only mammals in the world who lay eggs.
  • They’re small, with the largest platypuses only reaching 60 cm and 2.5 kg.
  • They use electrolocation to find prey by detecting electric fields generated by muscular contractions.
  • One of very few venomous mammals; the males have a spur on their hind feet that can cause serious injury to a human or potential predator.
  • They are semi-aquatic and spend up to 30 seconds underwater before resurfacing to breathe.
  • They spend up to 12 hours a day searching for food. Their diet consists of worms, freshwater shrimp and insect larvae.
  • Just like the beaver on the back of the Canadian 5 cent coin, the platypus is on the reverse side of the Australian 20 cent coin.

The Best Place to Spot a Platypus in the Wild

Platypus viewing in Australia

Yungaburra, Queensland

Yungaburra, Queensland

Although the platypus can be spotted in different water systems throughout Eastern Australia and Tasmania, the best place to spot a platypus in the wild is around the town of Yungaburra which is just over an hours drive southwest of Cairns. This makes it an ideal spot to head to before or after diving the Great Barrier Reef.

Platypus Viewing

After travelling down to Yungaburra, find your way to the Platypus Viewing Platform on the northern edge of town. You can also pop into the adorably helpful Yungaburra Information Centre and ask them to direct you.

When you get to the platform (easily walkable from the centre of town or you can park in the lot next to it), you will see a wooden wall with cutouts that you can use to look down into the creek. This is where tours from Cairns will stop for travellers to see the platypuses.

platypusViewing_V

Platypus Viewing Platform – Credit Yungaburra.com

What you’ll want to do is walk across the bridge and immediately turn left where you’ll see a well trodden pathway leading down to the creek. Follow this along the creek until you are clear from the traffic and other tourists at the site. Walking for at least five or ten minutes should put you far enough away from any noise that may scare away the furry critters.

Where We Spotted a Platypus

After arriving at the platypus viewing platform just after 5 pm, we crossed the bridge, walked down the pathway to the creek and followed it for about ten minutes.  We had the whole creek to ourselves putting us in a prime position to catch a glimpse the elusive critter.

I sat the edge of a bend in the creek which gave me a nice vantage point to spot ripples in the water. Five minutes later I saw movement less than ten metres away.

Shortly after a tiny furry body popped up just in front of me. Alyse and I both raised our hands in the air in celebration as there in front of us was the first platypus we had ever seen in the wild. We were psyched!

Where to see a platypus in Australia long grass
We spent the next hour mesmerized by the little guy darting in between the reeds, diving up and down in search for food.

We were lucky enough to see one more platypus that evening which was a bit larger than the first. We left Yungaburra thrilled with our platypus encounters.

Where to see a platypus in Australia

 

Wrapping Up

You now know exactly where to see a wild platypus in Australia!

If you’re staying the night in Yungaburra (which is a super cute little town for a stopover) we recommend On The Wallaby Lodge or if you’re camping like we did, the Lakeside Motor Inn & Caravan Park is a great option.

We would love to hear back if you have spotted one or if this post helped you see one on your travels so make sure to leave a comment below!

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Cheers,

Ross & Alyse


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Ross

Lover of travel, photography, nature, movies, and nachos. If you love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings we'll probably become best friends.
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