After seeing Murray Falls and staying at Alligator Creek, we’ve become huge fans of spending time in Australia’s national and state parks. You can camp there for around $12 and you can usually get showers, toilets, water, and picnic areas. They’re quieter and when you have a van with plenty of food, you don’t need much.
After spending a night in Airlie Beach, we found a place near Eungella National Park called the Platypus Bushcamp. Not sure what to expect, except that Andrea said that they’re a platypus living in the creek and she would die if she could see it! Our drive out there took us through miles of fields and farms, perfectly lit with the afternoon sun. As we climbed higher into the foothills, our road turned to dirt and we crossed a series of clear shallow creeks surrounded by palms trees.
When we showed up an older man with a long white beard was sitting at a table outside with a sign that read ‘Office.’ He was sitting there with one leg over his other, smoking a cigarette, a beer by his side, and reading a book. We pulled up next and Andrea rolled her window down and said ‘Hi!’ He looked up and said “G’day darling.” We learned that the older man is Wazza and had been living there for over 20 years, slowly adding various building and structures to the camp with the help of other travelers.
Where we stopped was actually where we’d be spending the night and could leave our van there. It’s a small lot, packed in with other travelers, but with so much to see around in the area, you don’t really need a lot of room! We immediately walked to the platypus pool which was the definition of serene, but sadly didn’t see a platypus. Little did we know anything about platypus, when they usually appear, where to look, or what they look like.
From there, we walked to the swimming pool area where we both instantly decided was the most relaxing place we’ve seen. We both took a swim and Andrea painted while I read.
That evening, we waited patiently on the shore of the platypus swimming pool, but did not see any such platypus. We learned from a nice UK family that if we drove 30 minutes up the mountain, there was another platypus viewing area where they say a platypus. Determined to see a platypus we agreed that we would drive there tomorrow.
That morning at sunrise we saw a quick glimpse of the elusive platypus! Only coming up a for a few seconds we didn’t realize how small it was and it was spending it’s time to the left of the pool, not to the right. We drove up the mountain to an area called Broken Creek. With the entire park dedicated to a platypus viewing walk, we learned that platypus usually appear in the mornings and closer to sunset. They swim around the bottom to feed and come up for 15 to 20 seconds to chew, before heading back down under water. We also learned to look for bubbles arising to keep an eye on when they’d appear.
Walking along the path a couple told us that they had just seen a platypus, but it hadn’t come up in 15 minutes so they left. We walked faster and then came to the clearing to watch. As the ones there, everything was still and quiet, except for the sound of the stream filling the large pond. And then, we saw a small object floating in the water! Grabbed our binoculars and looked – but it was a turtle, floating away in the sun. Discouraged, we picked up our heads up and again we saw an object floating in the pond! We looked closer and a tiny platypus was lying on its belly floating on the surface. It’s little beak protruding in front of its tiny body and little legs pushing it along. And just like that, it flipped it’s body up and dove under the surface. Andrea squealed and smiled ear to ear, quietly jumping up and down on the bank. We stared into the water again, spotted the bubbles, and sure enough a platypus popped up and sat there on the surface for about 20 seconds before diving down again.
We stood on the bank for 30 minutes seeing various platypus appear and disappear. Other tourists would join us in the search and we would help them spot the small, odd looking animal.
The evening wound down that night with all the campers gathered around the fire pit, looking up at the clear night sky and sharing stories of their travels. Only two nights were spent there, but we’d go back if we’re ever near there again.