When the Europeans first brought back word of the platypus, many thought it was a hoax. A mammal with webbed feet, that lived in water with fur and a duck's bill but had venomous spines seemed like a joke to many people until they brought back a specimen.
An encounter with a platypus still evokes wonder and seeing one in Australia in the wild requires luck and patience. In four years, we only saw platypus' a handful of times and we tried several times to see them.
Here are the spots with the best chance of seeing platypus in the wild.
Where to see a platypus in the wild near Sydney
Jenolan Caves Blue Lake
Jenolan Caves is an unlikely spot for a resident platypus, but you can see them in the blue lake near the entrance of the Jenolan Caves House.
If you walk a short distance along the path towards the dam, look for ripples on the water and chances are if you are there at dawn or dusk you will see one.
Jenolan Caves are well worth a visit, we've taken many visitors here and everyone is always impressed. The caves house is an atmospheric place to stay, it feels like stepping back in time. It would also mean that it's easy for you to be at the pool at dawn or dusk. There are also various walking trails to keep you busy. Why not combine it with a trip to one of our favourite places in Australia, the Blue Mountains?
Where to stay in Jenolan Caves
Jenolan Caves House
There's nowhere closer to the blue lake than the Jenolan Caves House. This historic hotel is within walking distance of the caves and the lake, making it the perfect base. The rooms are simple, but comfortable and the restaurant downstairs serves some tasty pub grub.
Where to see a platypus in the wild in Queensland
I don't know if any other hotel can say they have a platypus on their grounds, but Canopy Treehouses can certainly lay claim. In the creek on their property are a couple of resident platypus, however spotting them can be difficult as they share the water with terrapins who love to mislead in lowlight! We were lucky enough to see them several times. There are two spots, both of which are a short walk from the tree houses. The owner will give you a map for guidance.
If you don't want to stay at the treehouses, which we'd highly recommend as it is one of our favourite places to stay in Australia, we have a few more suggestions in the area.
We'd recommend first trying the platypus viewing area at Yungaburra on the Gillies Highway. There are very regular sightings here and some are even lucky enough to spot them in the day time.
If you aren't lucky at the viewing platform and want an almost guaranteed sighting you can head to the Australian platypus park. It's a guided viewing, at a cost of $8.50 for adults and $6 for children.
We also know that you can see platypus near MacKay (which is about 850km north of Brisbane). We sadly haven't made it there ourselves yet, but check out this guide to how you can spot one in Eungella National Park.
Where to see a platypus in the wild in Tasmania
This small town in the North of Tasmania has it's own population of platypus that just hang out in the creek behind the shops and hotels.
We were sitting having dinner in the Mole Creek Guesthouse when the chef let us know that there was a platypus in the creek at the bottom of the garden. We rushed out but just missed it.
Many of the other guests did see it though, and it's a fairly common occurrence.
Where to stay in Mole Creek
Mole Creek Guesthouse
Yep, the platypus at Mole Creek can be seen in the stream behind the guesthouse. The rooms here are really comfortable and styled as a traditional bed & breakfast. It also has a restaurant downstairs which does some of the best food in town.
Where to see a platypus in South Australia
Flinders Chase National Park, Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is one of the best places in Australia to see wildlife and it has it's own resident platypus as well.
A good spot to check out is the water hole on the easy Platypus Waterhole Walk, 4.7km return, from Flinders Chase National Park Visitors Centre.
We visited as part of the longer Black Swamp hike (8km) so if you fancy a longer stroll then we'd recommend this too.
There are good information boards at the water hole to swat up on those platypus facts. Did you know they produce venom?!
Where to stay near Flinders Chase National Park
The Cabins at Hanson Bay are one of our favourite places to stay in the whole of Australia. The cabins overlook the stunning Hanson Bay, with epic ocean views from the rooms. The newer ones are the best and Stormy Petrel also has a sea view from the bedroom. The cabins have a fully equipped kitchen and are beautifully furnished. If you get lucky, you may see a koala very nearby.
Best time of day to see platypus
Platypus are very shy animals and will retreat at the slightest noise, so being still and silent is essential. They're nocturnal animals, with your best chance of a sighting at dawn and dusk, so plan your sightings with this in mind.
They also prefer dark and gloomy weather, so if you are looking on an overcast day your chances may be higher. With some luck, everything may come together for a glimpse of this amazing animal. We've seen lots of incredible Australian animals but we'll never forget the times we were lucky enough to see platypus in the wild.
How to spot a platypus
Platypus spend a lot of time hidden away, so it's likely that you'll only see a glimpse before they dive underwater. The best way to spot a platypus is to watch for a disturbance in the water (water bubbles were the best way) and look for ripples. If you're in the right place at the right time, then all you need to do is wait (which can be for a long time!).
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Are you travelling to Australia soon? Is seeing a platypus in the wild on your "must-do" list? Let us know in the comments below.
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