Platypus Spotting in the Atherton Tablelands

There are a lot of cool things in Australia, and our animals are certainly some of our coolest!

Australia is renowned for its great selection of native species, but none are more elusive than the platypus. It’s thought that only 10% of Australians have glimpsed one of these creatures! But with a hearty dose of patience and the right information, you have a good chance of spotting them on the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns.

What is the best spot in Atherton Tablelands to see platypuses?

The best place to try your luck at spotting a platypus is from the designated viewing platform in Yungaburra. The platform sits above Peterson Creek and looks out over the surrounding scenery. The town’s local information centre posts regular updates on platypus sightings.

From the lookout, there is a high chance you could be able to spot one of these elusive creatures. If you aren’t having much luck, go across the bridge and take the track that goes underneath it. This is the way locals will tell you to see platypuses!

Under the bridge is quieter than the viewing platform, and there is a creek to walk alongside which promises more opportunities for spotting the cute creatures.

Where else can I spot platypuses in Atherton Tablelands?

Tarzali Lakes at Minbun is another spot to possibly get the chance to see the critters and is about half an hour’s drive from the viewing platform. This part of the area is home to the Australian Platypus Park and offers visitors guided tours of the region throughout the day. They can’t promise you’ll get a sighting, but the chances are high.

What time of day is best to spot a platypus?

Your best chance to catch a glimpse of the local platypus is around dawn and dusk. Around this time of day, you might even get the chance to see other animals like snakes and turtles.

In the early morning or late afternoon, the platypuses may be spotted as they are feeding. But at night they are most active and you might have a slightly better chance of seeing one then.

What to look for when platypus spotting

When you have found your location and are ready to spot some platypus, here is what to look out for.

• A platypus is a dark brown on their backs and a light brown on their stomachs. Due to their dark brown features, it can sometimes be hard to spot them in the water.

• Watch the surface of the water to see if there are any ripples or bubbles. If you see anything, it indicates movement below the surface and could mean a platypus is hanging around.

• Keep your eyes peeled for a bow wave that is produced by the paddling motion of the platypus’ front feet.

Other things to do in the Atherton Tablelands

Millaa Millaa Falls

The Atherton Tablelands themselves offer incredible sprawling scenery with a stunning collection of flora and fauna to explore. Outside of platypus spotting, here are a couple of other things you can get up to while in Atherton Tablelands.

• Cathedral Fig Tree is a tall ancient tree that is over 500 years old. You’ll find the enormous tree in the Danbulla State Forest within the Atherton Tablelands. The tree itself can look a
bit odd and scary with its root looking branches climbing down the tree. Walk around the boardwalk and see for yourself just how big the tree is!

• Millaa Millaa Falls is a gorgeous waterfall that is surrounded by the ancient rainforest. Bring some swimmers to take a dip in the freshwater and enjoy a picnic by the grassy area.

• Lake Eacham is a popular swimming hole with crystal clear water. This lake is also on an extinct volcano crater and the water only comes from the rain!

Platypuses tend to swim low in the water with a very small amount of their body on show above the surface. It is best to always keep alert for movement in the water as it might mean the difference between spotting a platypus and missing them entirely! Either way, the Atherton Tablelands are a great place to try your luck at seeing them.

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