The platypus is one of Australia’s most intriguing animals. It has fur like a mammal, lays eggs like a reptile, and is extremely shy and rare – so seeing one in its natural environment may be a once-in-a-lifetime activity.
“About as unique as unique gets.”
– George Negus
These creatures can be viewed in early mornings or late afternoons when they’re most active. There are many places that claim to be “the best” for viewing a platypus in the wild, and these include Eungalla National Park near Mackay in Queensland (where the eco-guides claim they’ll guarantee you a sighting), and the Warrawong Earth Sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills, where there’s been considerable success in breeding the endangered mammals.
Did you know?
When the first platypus specimen was sent to England for identification, its appearance was so strange that it was thought to be a hoax. Was the creature one of the freak imposters of the kind that Chinese taxidermists sold to credulous seamen? An animal that had a muzzle like a duck’s bill and carried a tail like a beaver was said to be an impossibility.
How to get there
Eungalla National Park
Virgin Blue has direct flights to Mackay from Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.
Qantas offers direct flights from Townsville, Rockhampton, Brisbane and Sydney.
Eungalla National Park is situated 80km west of Mackay, along the Pioneer Valley Road.
Warrawong Earth Sanctuary
Virgin Blue and Qantas fly to Adelaide from most major cities in Australia.
You can reach the Warrawong Earth Sanctuary from Adelaide by turning off the South Eastern Freeway at Stirling and following the signs from the Stirling roundabout.
Best time to go
The best time to spot a platypus is immediately after dawn and at dusk.
Eungalla National Park website
Warrawong Earth Sanctuary website
** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.