Platypus @ Latrobe
We had searched for good user stories and experiences of fellow travelers who had the same aim of finding platypus. A few places were named and these were most common:
- Latrobe – which calls itself “Platypus Capital of the World” (sounds pretty good!) – head down Hamilton Street to Warrawee Reserve. The road follows the river. There’s no need to go all the way to the reserve; just stop somewhere along the road just past the intersection with the old Deloraine road.
- Tasmanian Arboretrum
We decided to start with Latrobe, which was only 1 hour drive from the place that we were staying. We had also seen on a Belgian TV series that a reporter was able to spot a platypus there quite easily. So we got are hopes up…
As we arrived by car, my husband immediately saw movement in the water – even as he was still driving along the stream. We parked somewhere safe along the road (but you can also park at the end of the Hamilton road, just before the Reserve entrance). We got out – cameras in hand – and indeed saw multiple ripples in the water and soon after some platypus shapes. Where we were standing, there was still quite some distance between the side of the road and the water, so we tried to get a little closer, going through the grasses and bushes covering the river banks. We got a few pictures and video, but tried to get better shots. At a certain moment in time there were at least 3 platypus in front of us. But as they only show up from the water so briefly, it’s really hard to get them on camera in a decent way. We were trying this for about an hour at that spot, trying different positions, standing on tree trunks and even climbing in a tree… Also, with the snakes we had already seen, I must say I wasn’t too keen in getting into these higher bushes – you never know what you’re running into. It seemed like I heard the noise of a snake gliding through the bushes several times… Luckily, we didn’t see any snakes at that time…
As the ripples in the water seemed to stop and didn’t return for a while, we moved on an tried our luck a little further. We got into the car and parked it just before the entrance of the Reserve and walked a little back up to a place where the road runs over into some grass area (without any bushes or trees), so easier to take a seat and watch the water surface from left to right and back. I quickly saw a platypus from pretty close, but was too late to capture it on camera. And my husband was still making his way over, so he didn’t either. After that, we only saw some limited ripples at the other side of the stream, so didn’t get any better shots than we already had.
So lucky we’ve finally seen these bizarre animals, even if it wasn’t from up close.
Wombat @ Cradle Mountain
Aaaah… the wombat. That was the animal we were mostly looking forward to. So fluffy, fat, cute and cuddly! Based on our Google research, we knew Cradle Mountain was one of the best places to spot them. And as we were heading there anyway, that’s where we focused on. They are most often seen at the following areas:
- Ronny Creek walkway (and up to Crater Laker and Falls or up to Lake Lilla)
- The Enchanted Walk, near the Visitor Centre
- Around the Lodge (Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge)
When we double checked at the Visitor Centre, they confirmed that the Ronny Creek area was our best chance, as it has a lot of open grasslands. So that’s where we went.
From the Visitor Centre, you have to take a bus which is doing the different stops in the National Park, of which Ronny Creek is the third (out of 4). This is free, as soon as you show your National Parks pass (that you need for all National Park entrances). It’s about 10 minutes (7km) from the Visitor Centre to the Ronny Creek stop. You have to register for any walk that you do, in a registration bunk right at the bus stop. At the right, the walks from Ronny Creek are departing, from a wooden pathway.
After only about 3 minutes on the duckboard my husband (of course) saw the first one on the hill at the right from the walkway. It was still pretty far away – we wanted them closer up! So, continuing on the pathway we saw about 2 others – from a similar distance. Then we came up to the point where we had to chose between going right (direction of the Crater Lake) or left (Lilla Lake). As the Overland Track that we were going to start 2 days after, also started from the track up to Crater Lake, we chose to go left to Lilla Lake.
Pretty soon on that walk to Lilla Lake, we saw another wombat. A little closer already – eating and slightly moving forward. After a few pictures and video, we continued this track. After about 10 to 15 minutes the duckboard changes to rocky surface. You still see a lot of wombat poo (they are very recognizable as they are square-shaped), but no wombats. We decided not to go any further, but to return and be more patient with the wombats we had already seen, hoping they would come closer.
And man, did they! As they were eating (non-stop!), we decided to do the same, so took out our lunch and sat on the duckboard, not letting the last wombat we say out of our sight). It continued to move (slowly), coming more into our direction. After a while it got to the duckboard walkway. We would get any closer than this…
As we walked back to Ronny Creek, we saw some other walkers gathering, so we knew some more wombat close-ups were coming up. We couldn’t get enough… Do you like our wombat selfies 😉 ?
And what about the Tasmanian Devil?
Unfortunately no glimpse of the Devil (as we expected). This animal is still highly threatened and it’s really rare for someone to see it, as it shies away from its predators, the humans. You can still go look at them in various wildlife parks and/or conservation areas, but we’re always a little weary about those… From what we could gather the Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary looks decent (as it really focuses on conservation and releasing animals back into the wild). With others like Devils @ Cradle, it’s more focused on pleasing the tourist (at least that’s how we interpret it from what we’ve read).