Finding the platypus of Eungella National Park. A complete guide to where, how and when to find the platypus at Eungella’s Broken River.
Eungella National Park is located in the Mackay Highlands about an hour to the west of Mackay – Queensland. The name ‘Eungella’ (pronounced ‘young-galah’) is an Aboriginal name, which means ‘land of clouds’. An apt name for this often cloud covered rainforest park. Regarded as the longest stretch of sub-tropical rainforest in the country, Eungella National Park is home to a huge and diverse range of flora and fauna which includes its most famous inhabitant – the Platypuses of Broken River.
8 interesting Platypus facts
The Duck-billed Platypus is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most recognisable creatures. It’s as iconic as it is bizarre and watching these unique creatures in their natural habitat is a real ‘Wildlife Bucket List’ item!
|A Little Off Track Platypus Facts|
1. They’re endemic to Australia and found only in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
2. Queensland Platypuses are the smallest.
3. Like Echidna’s, the Platypus is a monotreme. This means the females produce offspring by laying eggs.
4. Male platypuses actually possess venom which they can use to fight other males during the mating season. Making them one of the world’s few venomous mammals!
5. As with sharks, platypus detect their underwater prey (prawns, crayfish and insect larvae) in their murky creeks using electronic impulses.
6. Platypus can stay underwater for up to 10 minutes.
7. Their large tails not only act as stabilisers while they swim, but they store fat in there for when food is scarce.
8. Platypus numbers are decreasing alarmingly due factors like to climate change (drought), habitat loss and introduced predators.
Finding the Platypus of Eungella National Park – Where are the best spots?
Running through this tranquil park is the famous Broken River, one of the easiest and most reliable spots to find platypus in the country (and therefore the world). In fact, we rate it as the number one spot for platypus viewing anywhere! A big statement we know, but let us show you why.
Platypus can be seen all along the Broken River and the lovely River Walk makes having a go at finding them easy for everyone. This 520m (one-way) part-boardwalk track is flat, simple to follow and suitable for all. There’s plenty of places for platypus viewing and here’s some of the best.
From atop the Broken River Bridge
Let’s start with the best first! The Broken River bridge provides the perfect place to find (and photograph) the rivers famous inhabitants. With unimpeded views along the river, it’s a great place to start your search. And if you’re patient (and lucky) one might pop up right below you.
From this vantage point spotting platypus can be a lot easier than down alongside the river, especially in high glare or wet conditions. You may also get some unique perspectives of the mysterious platypus world that you could never get from water level.
Here’s a short clip we filmed on an old phone. It’s not the best quality, but it gives you an idea of just how close and awesome the platypus viewing is from the Broken River Bridge. To be honest if this was the only platypus viewing spot along this river, we would have been more than satisfied.
From the viewing Platforms/Deck
There are a couple of viewing platforms/decks along the River Walk which are definitely worth visiting. Directly below the bridge is a nice viewing deck. Not only does this get you nice and close to the action, but it also offers a bit shelter if there’s a bit of rain in the ‘land of clouds’.
To the west (towards Fern Flat Camping Area) there’s a nice, usually quieter viewing platform. There’s a bit of signage with some general platypus info which is interesting to read. We only had a couple of sightings from this one, but still definitely worth heading down here too.
At the east end of the River Walk there’s another great viewing platform. Only a couple of minutes walk from the bridge this shady spot proved fruitful during our 3 days here. Whilst you’re up here we highly recommend tacking on the short Rainforest Discovery Walk for a flora fix.
For more on that checkout our guide – Walks and Wildlife of Eungella National Park
From the Broken River camping area
If you’re camping in the Broken River (Bush Camp) camping area you won’t have to go far to see platypus. We loved wandering over from our swag with a coffee (morning) or beer (anytime after lunch) in hand to watch as they cruised up and down the river.
As we said you’ll find platypus all along this river not only these locations. These are just a few of the easiest and most reliable spots to see them from.
Tips for finding the platypus of Broken River – Eungella National Park
Before you start there’s a few things you can do increase you chances of finding a platypus.
|A Little Off Track Platypus Spotting Tips|
1. Be quiet and slow moving. Platypus are shy, so loud noises and sudden movements scare them.
2. Go at the right time (more details on that below)
3. Look for bubbles rising and movement under the surface to locate when and where one is coming up.
4. Don’t be fooled by any turtles. On, and as they surface they are easily mistaken for Platypus and the source of plenty of short-lived excitement.
5. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.
6. Here’s a cheat one. If you see excited people grinning with their cameras pointed at the river they’ve probably found one!
What else might you see along the Broken River?
Like all our platypus adventures in Queensland, we found plenty of other wildlife too. As always if you’re waiting quietly for platypus you’ll more than likely see lots of birdlife. None more spectacular than the Azure Kingfisher of which we saw a few. Apparently here at Eungella National Park a ‘feeding association’ has been noticed between the two, with the Kingfishers waiting for the platypus to disturb the fish before diving in to get one. So, no surprise to find one perched on the bridge watching the Platypus as intently as us!
On our various forays along the river there was another bit of wildlife that proved a little more elusive than the platypus. Early morning and evening at the Fern Flat end of the River Walk we had a few fleeting glimpses of the shy Red-Legged Pademelon who liked playing ‘hide and seek’ with us.
For more on this and all the other fauna (and flora) we saw here checkout our guide on the Walks and Wildlife of Eungella National Park
When is the best time for finding the Platypus of Eungella National Park?
- As platypus are nocturnal they are most active during the night and at dawn and dusk. So being here early morning shortly after sunrise and/or from mid-afternoon onwards will offer you the best chance of spotting one. That said we saw them throughout the day here during our cool August visit.
- Try to avoid school holidays and busy weekend periods if you can.
- Avoid the really wet periods too. Wet season can start from November and go through to May here. During rain and after rainfall, the water is continually disturbed due to drips from the overhanging vegetation. This makes looking for bubbles and movement on and under the surface significantly harder.
- If you really want to see some platypus, give yourself time and be patient. The more time you spend at the river the more chances you have of finding a platypus. Also here in the ‘Land of Clouds’ it rains a lot. In our August visit (dry season) 2 of our 3 days were unseasonably wet and miserable, so we’re glad we had 4 nights, 3 days to maximise our chances of good weather and sightings.
We came for the platypus and did not leave disappointed. Despite some pretty horrendous weather we still had the most amazing time here. We found platypus each and every day and literally lost count of how many sightings we had in total. So we think that pretty much says it all. If you’re looking for platypus, look no further… Broken River at Eungella National Park!
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