Finding the platypus of Peterson Creek – The ultimate guide. All you need to know about finding and photographing platypus at Peterson Creek.
Peterson Creek is one of the most popular spots in the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland. With an abundance of flora and fauna this is a place for any nature lover. And what makes Peterson Creek so special is its resident Platypus population.
8 interesting Platypus facts
The semiaquatic Duck-billed Platypus is one of Australia’s most beloved and recognisable creatures and surely one of it’s most bizarre!
|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.
About Peterson Creek Walking Track
The Peterson Creek Wildlife and Botanical Walking Track is a 2.4km track at the heart of Yungaburra in the Atherton Tablelands. It takes you on a magical journey that follows the creek through its riparian zone along a now continuous corridor of native forest habitat. For more about this biodiversity conservation project success story checkout our guide – The amazing wildlife of Peterson Creek Walking Track.
Trail Type: One-way (point-to-point)
Start Point: Gillies Highway Platypus Viewing Platform or the cemetery on Mulgrave Road *
Finish Point: The cemetery on Mulgrave Road or Gillies Highway Platypus Viewing Platform *
* Can be done in either direction
Finding the Platypus of Peterson Creek – Where are the best spots?
One of our favourite places, Peterson Creek is our ‘local’ Platypus spotting area and we visit as often as we can. And, to be honest we’ve seen Platypus all the way up and down this beautiful little creek (except #1 Platypus Viewing Platform). But our three most consistently rewarding and fruitful areas have to be:
- The meandering section from points #3 to #4.
- The area from the Snodgrass Pool to just before the Lloyd’s Suspension Bridge.
- The section around #7 near the picnic table.
Tips for finding the platypus of Peterson Creek?
Ok, so before you begin there’s a few things you can do increase you chances of finding a platypus at Peterson Creek.
|A Little Off Track Platypus Spotting Tips|
1. Be quiet and slow moving. Platypus are shy, so loud noises and sudden movements can scare them. Remember most people are here to see Platypus so please act accordingly
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 a platypus is about to surface.
4. Don’t be fooled by the Saw-shelled Turtles. On, and as they surface they are easily mistaken for Platypus and the source of plenty of short-lived excitement.
5. If you know where to look, try and find the Platypus dens across the creek as this is sure sign that Platypus inhabit that section of the creek.
6. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.
7. Here’s a cheat one. If you see excited people grinning with their cameras pointed at the creek they’ve probably found one!
When is the best time for finding the Platypus of Peterson Creek?
- As Platypus are nocturnal they are most active during the night, dawn and dusk. Arriving early morning shortly after sunrise and/or from mid-afternoon onwards will offer you the best chance of spotting a Platypus. That said we have seen Platypus consistently throughout the day at Peterson Creek especially during the cooler times of year.
- Try to avoid school holidays and busy weekend periods if you can. The quieter the better!
- The dry season is said to be the best time to find the Platypus of Peterson Creek and cooler temperatures mean the platypus potentially stay out longer. Based on our experiences, we agree with this.
- Avoid the really wet periods here. The reasons for this are three-fold:
- After continuous rain the creek is murkier and faster flowing so spotting Platypus can be harder than usual.
- Increased flow during the wet season is also thought to make them less inclined to venture into the creek as feeding conditions are difficult.
- During rain and after rainfall, drips from the overhanging vegetation continually disturbs the water. This makes looking for bubbles and movement on and under the surface significantly more difficult!
A few photography tips
We’re no professionals, but here’s a few things that have helped us over the years when photographing wildlife in these sorts of environments
- As Platypus are most active in the darker times of day and the fact the creek is surrounded by overhanging vegetation, low light can be a bit of an issue. But by coming later in the morning or early afternoon and finding a more open area you can make this a little easier for yourself and your camera.
- If you have a passion for wildlife photography, we highly recommend investing in a decent zoom lens. We shoot the majority of our wildlife pics with a Canon 100-400mm and we love it.
- Get as a close as possible, especially in low light. Even with a good telephoto lens, if it’s not a fixed aperture lens, when you zoom right in you increase the aperture meaning less light reaches the sensor. So although it looks good through the eyepiece, the actual photo possibly won’t.
- Use the burst mode on your camera (continuous shooting). The more frames you fire off the more chance you’ll get a nice sharp shot.
- For those who edit their photos, make sure to shoot in RAW rather than JPEG. This gives you higher quality images and more post-processing options.
- The Lloyd’s Suspension Bridge is not just very photogenic, but it offers a great vantage point. Not only for spotting, but also a for aerial photos of the Platypus. If you’re wanting to get some Platypus photos that aren’t down at water level this is a great spot. It’s also a more open area with more light. But remember, you’ll only be able to do this during really quiet periods here, as the bridge can get busy.
What else might you find at Peterson Creek?
Peterson Creek isn’t just about the Platypus. This biodiverse corridor is home to a plethora of wildlife. The other animal on the top of everyones list at Peterson Creek is the rarely encountered Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. These are sighted here relatively frequently and yes, we have been luckily enough to find them here. Green Ringtail Possum, Red-Legged Pademelon, Spectacled Flying Fox, Australian Water Dragon, Spotted Catbirds and colourful Kingfishers are just some of the many other creatures regularly found along the creek too.
Checkout our guide – The amazing wildlife of Peterson Creek Walking Track. for lots more info.
We love our Platypus searching strolls along Peterson Creek Walking Track. We’ve never come away without finding at least a couple, though usually far more. It’s such a captivating, wildlife-rich and fun area to explore. So if you’re heading to Far North Queensland be sure to make your way over to the Atherton Tablelands and try your hand at finding the Platypus of Peterson Creek in Yungaburra. And don’t forget to let us know how you get on!
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