Trip 20, part 12 – What’s the plural of Platypus?

That’s the question for this blog, as from where I’m sitting at the van, I can often see more than one of the little and very cute buggers swimming around…. in the wild…. in the Broken River.  Oh, and by the way, the answer is Platypuses, not Platypi.

But all good stories start with a beginning so let’s jump to ours.  Whilst staying at Pinnarendi Station a couple of weeks ago we met a lovely couple, AJ and Theresa at dinner, and I’d mentioned how we were planning to trek south, homeward bound, via Townsville and Mackay.  Anyway, following a good chat over some wine they put us onto both Magnetic Island and the Eungella National Park.  Prior to the tips from AJ, we were just planning to spend a day at each city, checking out the local scene, basically chucking bog laps down the main strip.  So rather than that we followed AJ’s advice and spent our day in Townsville Barbie’ing it up on Magnetic Island and have just followed that up by spending a couple of lovely days camped aside the Broken River in the Eungella National Park, watching wild Platypus swim up and down in front of us.

 << Photo credit:  Tony – It’s a steep and long climb to Eungella.  Here’s the view from near the top at the aptly named Sky Window lookout >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – Our campsite, the river is behind the vans >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Jeff – Our campsite where we watched Platypus in the river behind the vans >>

 

 << Photo credit:  Tony – The bridge over the Broken River >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – Looking back at our campsite from the main Platypus viewing area under the bridge. >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – A wild Platypus >>

 

  << Photo credit:  Tony – A wild Platypus >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Rod – A wild Platypus >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Rod – A wild Platypus >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Rod – A wild Platypus >>

 

In addition to the Platypuses, there’s lots of turtles, some snakes (also swimming around), birds, possums and a lovely rainforest walk circuit to do.

<< Photo credit:  Rod – A snake going for a swim in the river.  We saw a couple of different snakes go for a swim here. >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – A Turtle chilling in the sun >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – Brush Turkey, what we called “Bush Chooks”, at our campsite >>

 

 << Photo credit:  Tony – A Sulfur Crested Cockatoo coming in for a morning drink>>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – An Eastern Yellow Robin at the Platypus viewing area >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Rod – A very friendly bird at our camp.  He basically sat at our feet scrounging for a feed >>

 

 << Photo credit:  Rod – A brown Pigeon or Dove birdy >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Rod – A Finch like birdy>>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – A Cormorant in the Broken River >>

 

 << Photo credit:  Tony – The Broken River, up towards the Granite Bend >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – The Broken River, up towards the Granite Bend >>

 

And, to top all that off…   As we were driving towards Eungella, Jules was doing her “what is coming up in WikiCamps” search, where she follows our route and lets us know what’s cool in the area and what’s coming up.  Anyway, whilst Wiki’ing she came across “Rainforest Scuba”, located in the town of Finch Hatton, about 30kms out from our campsite on the Broken River.  Stopping in for a chat on the way through, Luana, the dive master, advises that she’s the only freshwater, rainforest scuba diving guide, where you have a chance of seeing wild Platypus underwater.  In fact, last year she hosted the BBC to get some underwater footage of the Platypus for a new series they’re doing.  Anyway, it was way too good an opportunity to miss, so I booked in for a 1 on 1 guided dive with her.

Meeting at the agreed time the next day, Luana spent a good hour or so talking and educating us about her passion, the Platypus, before describing the dive site and the other animals we’re (more) likely to see, before we geared up and drove out to the site.  The site itself sits aside a ford (water crossing) and is the local swimming hole, but today we had the place to ourselves.  Topside it’s another very beautiful pool of water with trees and remanent rainforest fringing the banks.  The water level was very low due to an unusually dry ‘wet season’, and no rain in months, during the ‘dry season’.  However, it still drops to a couple of metres in the middle and we bounced along the bottom, moving noticeably from the warmer water in the sunlight, to cooler, but not cold water, thanks to our 7mm semi-dry suits, in the darker and deeper sections.  Where the sun did hit the water, it created beautiful shafts of dappled sunlight cutting through it, illuminating and highlighting various objects on the river floor.  Whilst we didn’t see a Platypus whilst diving, we did see plenty of turtles and various fish, but what grabbed my attention the most was the way the sunlight lit up the fallen leaves on the bottom, or the algae flowing in the stream, hanging off the underwater branches, or the very small and almost translucent floating algae that had some silt in it so that they glowed like small jellyfish.

Luana is obviously very much in love with, and passionate about, her part of the world and what she does, and it’s infectious.  Even though Jules didn’t dive, she came away knowing more about the Platypus and the area than she did before and we both really loved the experience.  If you’re ever in the area of Finch Hatton, be sure to check Luana and her dive experience out!

 << Photo credit:  Tony – The freshwater pool where we dived >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Jules – The freshwater pool where we dived >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Jules – Me and Luana entering the water >>

 

 << Photo credit:  Tony – A large turtle, chilling on the bottom >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – Dappled sunlight shafting through the water >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – Spot the two turtles climbing the underwater tree >>

 

 << Photo credit:  Tony – I can’t recall what name Luana gave this Eel Finned Catfish, but she was one of Luana’s favourites and is a pretty chilled fish, swimming up to and around us >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – Luana’s favourite and friendly bull which she pats on the way back from the dive trip.  He was a BIG boy. >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – Old Bully Boy giving us a smile! >>

 

 << Photo credit:  Tony – Jules and the Bull >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Tony – The dog from the farm where the bull was at.  She didn’t want to miss out on the action >>

 

<< Photo credit:  Jules – Old Bully Boy >>

3 Replies to “Trip 20, part 12 – What’s the plural of Platypus?”

  1. Absolutely loved the story. Oh and by the way…..the eeltail catfish is called Cateelona as she is an EELtailed-CATfish who swims on her ONA…..hahahahahehehe!

    1. ?. I thought it was something like that but didn’t want to get it wrong as I knew she was a favourite of yours.

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