Sunday, August 23, 2009

Platypus at Eungella and Yungaburra

Platypus at Eungella National Park (Photo by Narca)

Eungella National Park in Queensland encompasses lovely montane forest where pools of the Broken River support a thriving population of Platypus, one of Australia's two monotremes (egg-laying mammals). We arrive at the visitor center in late afternoon and hike a short way to a beautiful upper pool fringed in rock at one end. From the rocks, we overlook the water, where a Platypus dives, rolls, filters water at the surface with its odd leathery bill, and eventually, in the gathering dusk, swims directly below my perch on the rocks.

Early next morning, we return to the Broken River and see four of the little charmers. One emerges from the river and waddles swiftly over a sandbar and under a bank, startling a White-faced Heron as it brushes past. Platypus are nocturnal and crepuscular–they emerge in the hours around dusk to forage for invertebrates, and return to their burrows in the early morning hours.

Another very good place to look for Platypus is the river running through the village of Yungaburra in the Atherton Tablelands. The town has provided access and a trail along the river.

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