Platypus in Tasmania – Your Essential Guide

Platypus are shy little creatures, but unlike other parts of Australia spotting a platypus in Tasmania isn’t hard at all. Keep reading to find out where to see platypus in Tasmania on your road trip, and download your FREE colouring-in stencil for the kids!

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Platypus in Tasmania - A quick overview

Growing up in Australia the platypus never seemed such a strange animal to me.

But when I put myself in the shoes of naturalist George Shaw back in the late 1700s I can totally understand why he thought people were playing a practical joke on him – thinking someone had sewn together the webbed feet and bill of a duck with the body of an otter and the tail of a beaver!

Even Australia’s indigenous peoples have stories about the platypus, describing it as the bizarre result of a love-tryst between a duck and a native water rat 😂

It took a pair of scissors for old mate George to finally realise that this was no hoax – the platypus was a real live native Australian mammal and it was totally unique!

The pristine rivers and lakes of Tasmania are the best place in Australia to see one of these gorgeous creatures in the wild, and in this guide we will show you:

  • how to spot a platypus
  • the best places to see platypus in the wild
  • where you can guarantee seeing a platypus
  • Tasmania wildlife tours where you can go platypus spotting with an expert!

What is a platypus?

Platypus are fascinating animals. They are mammals – meaning they feed their young with milk – but even more exciting is that they one of only two species of monotremes – egg-laying mammals – in the world!

Platypus are found in the rivers and lakes of Tasmania and along Australia’s eastern seaboard, but you’ll find that the platypus in Tasmania are a lot bigger than those on the mainland – up to 3x as big!

Growing to a metre in length, they love solitude and will normally leave their burrow at dusk to spend the night diving underwater and snuffling around with their ultra-sensitive bill for worms and insect eggs, before returning to their burrow at dawn.

Platypus Colouring-In

FREE stencil for the kids!

The best time to see a platypus

Dawn and dusk are the best times to see a platypus. 

They prefer to hunt during the night, so your best chance of seeing them is just before they leave their burrow in the evening (about 30 minutes before sunset), and as they return to their burrow in the morning (about 30 minutes after sunrise).

To increase your chance of seeing a platypus in the wild we also recommend planning your holiday for winter or spring.

The colder temperatures at this time of year result in platypus needing more food to stay warm and healthy – and this means staying outside longer during daylight hours to hunt!

🌏 platypusSPOT App

  • PlatypusSPOT is an awesome website and phone app that lets you and other travellers upload details and photos of where you spotted a platypus in the wild. 
  • Go to their website here and click on the ‘Posts’ button to see a map of Tasmania showing where platypus have been seen near you!

7 tips to help you spot a platypus

Platypus are very quiet, secretive creatures, and there might be one right next to you and you would never know.

There are a few things to look for that will increase your chances:

  1. Be as quiet as possible – Platypus are shy animals that will move away if they are being disturbed too much
  2. Look for bubbles and ripples – Platypus disturb the water surface when they dive and resurface in their search for food
  3. Focus on calm water, as it is a lot easier to see the bubbles and ripples, and the top of their head and back as they swim around
  4. Listen for splashes – Platypus normally make a little splash as they dive down
  5. Listen for a growl – It is rare to hear this, but platypus may give a little growl if you disturb them on land
  6. No bright lights or sudden movements – Platypus have excellent eyesight and don’t like torches or camera flashes, so make sure you turn these off before starting your search and try to stay as still as possible
  7. Freshwater rivers and lakes only – Platypus don’t like saltwater

⚠️ Caution!

  • Platypus might look really cute, but the male platypus hides a deadly secret. Each of their back-legs has a sharp, spiky spur, and inside that spur is a powerful venom that can kill dogs and other small animals!
  • Platypus venom isn’t powerful enough to kill a human, but it is extremely painful and could result in infection.

1. Latrobe (Warrawee Reserve)

Latrobe BigPlatypus.jpg
By Stuart Edwards - The 'Big Platypus' at the Axeman's Hall of Fame - (Public Domain, Link)

There is a reason so many people call Latrobe Tasmania the ‘Platypus Capital of the World’. It’s easily the most popular destination for anyone wanting to see a platypus in the wild because they are so common!

There’s a chance you may see platypus by the bridge near the Axeman’s Hall of Fame, but for an even better experience you only need to drive 5 minutes south of Latrobe along Shale Road to Warrawee Reserve.

There are some lovely loop walks in this conservation park – BBQ and picnic facilities are also available – but to see a platypus we recommend sticking to the banks of the Mersey River, and the aptly named ‘Platypus Pool’.

Where to stay: Belle’s Bed and Breakfast (check prices)

2. Burnie (Fernglade Platypus Trail)

A lot of people write off Burnie as being a drab industrial port-city, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find some amazing natural wonders right on its doorstep.

Fernglade Reserve is only a few minutes outside Burnie and it is a paradise full of ferns, mosses and the cold, rushing waters of the Emu River. 

The Fernglade Platypus Trail extends along the riverbank and there are plenty of interpretive signs to help you understand and appreciate the points of interest – including platypus of course!

We’ve heard from many locals who say that if you can spare an hour at dusk or dawn then a platypus sighting is nearly guaranteed. 

Don’t get caught though, as access to the park is closed to vehicles from dusk to dawn, meaning you may need to make the short walk into the park, and then back out again.

Where to stay: Jones on Wilson B&B (check prices)

3. Mt Field and Westerway (Tyenna River)

Mt Field and Russell Falls are near the top of a lot of Tasmania bucket-lists, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that the nearby Tyenna River is a haven for platypus.

If you only have a little bit of time then you could stop at Westerway near the Possum Shed Cafe and have a look along the riverbank there.

Or with a bit more time up your sleeve, or if you were already planning on spending time at Mt Field National Park, then go for a walk along Lake Dobson Road back to the bridge and then walk the banks of the Tyenna and see if you can spot a platypus. A platypus tour with an expert is also a great idea.

We’ve also heard a lot of excellent reports from campers staying at nearby Left of Field camp ground. In our Derwent Valley Road Trip Guide we called its owner, Adrian, the ‘Platypus Whisperer‘, and based on his success rate it’s a pretty fair description!

Where to stay: Platypus Playground Riverside Cottage (check prices)

4. Sassafras Creek (Mole Creek)

It would be easy to drive straight through from Launceston or Devonport to Cradle Mountain, but the tiny town of Mole Creek has a lot to offer tourists and is a great little diversion off the main road.

The Mole Creek Caves are probably its biggest attraction, and platypus would have to come a close second!

The Mole Creek Caravan Park (just metres from Sassafras Creek) gets a crazy number of platypus sightings every year, and if you can’t see one from your campsite then the nearby section of Sassafras Creek passing under Union Bridge is also a prime location for seeing platypus in the wild.

Where to stay: Old WesleyDale Heritage Accommodation (check prices

5. Salmon Ponds Heritage Hatchery and Gardens

The Salmon Ponds are a fantastic place to spend a couple of hours, midway between historic New Norfolk and the pristine wilderness of Mt Field National Park.

It isn’t just salmon that enjoy the beautiful ponds either, as there is also a resident platypus that is often seen fossicking for food and scratching himself on the green banks.

Opening hours at the Salmon Ponds are between 9am and 5pm, so your best chance of seeing a platypus is late in the day in autumn, winter, and spring when closing time coincides with dusk. That’s not to say you can’t see them at other times in the year (because plenty of people do!) but it is a little bit more likely.

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to spot a platypus the Salmon Ponds are a very relaxing place to soak up the Tassie outdoors. The cafe is famous for its pancakes and the kids will love feeding the salmon and trout in the ponds!

Where to stay: Truffle Lodge (check prices)

6. Loongana (River Leven)

Loongana is located in a beautiful part of northern Tasmania and you’ll nearly have the place to yourself it is so untouristed.

You could easily drive out and pull up at Taylor’s Flats Picnic Area or anywhere else along the River Leven to try and see a platypus, but the better option would be to stay a night or more at Mountain Valley Wilderness Retreat.

These eco-cabins (only 5 available!) are tucked away by the river, and everyone who stays there has the opportunity to enjoy a free evening platypus tour run by the owners.

We won’t say a platypus is sighting is guaranteed, but judging by the number of success stories it would have to be pretty close!

There’s plenty of other Tasmania wildlife to be experienced here as well, including Tasmanian devils, spotted quolls and even a glow-worm grotto – you could easily spend a week relaxing in this hidden valley.

Where to stay: Mountain Valley Wilderness Retreat (check prices)

7. Deloraine (Meander River)

Over the years the beautiful and historic rural town of Deloraine has grown to become one of Tasmania’s most popular destinations for lovers of arts and crafts.

It is also one of the easiest places to spot yourself a platypus in the wild!

Locals tell us that there are perhaps a half dozen platypus that call this stretch of the Meander River home, and some can be seen of a morning or evening, diving and paddling along the still waters.

The Deloraine Apex Caravan Park gets a lot of sightings from its residents, but you can also set yourself up by the small jetty at the Deloraine Riverbank Reserve and keep your eyes peeled, or stand in the middle of the footbridge near the caravan park and keep watch up and down the river.

Where to stay: Blakes Manor Bed and Breakfast (check prices)

Other great places to see a platypus in Tasmania in the wild

Platypus in Tasmania - Lake Chisholm
Platypus swimming in Lake Chisholm | Photo: Jess Bonde

We couldn’t possibly describe every single place that you may spot a platypus in Tasmania, but the platypusSPOT website tells us that these locations have had multiple sightings in recent times:

  • Geeveston Platypus Walk (Kermandie River)
  • Tasmania Arboretum (Devonport)
  • Northeast Park (Scottsdale)
  • Little Pine Lagoon (Central Highlands)
  • Waratah (on the southern side of the lake is best)
  • Hobart (Hobart Rivulet)
  • Cradle Mountain – Ronny Creek (more common) and Dove Lake (less common)
  • Platypus Bay (Lake St Clair)
  • Snug Falls
  • Huon Valley Caravan Park
  • New Norfolk (Tywnald Park)
  • Strahan (Botanical Creek on way to Hogarth Falls)

Where to stay for spotting wild platypus

If you are super keen to see a platypus and want to be as close as possible to all the action (handy when you need to wake up before dawn!), there are a few accommodation options that should be at the top of your list:

  • ⭐ Platypus Playground Riverside Cottage (Westerway) – The name says it all! If you don’t watch out you could just about roll out of bed and into the Tyenna River you are so close. Mt Field is just up the road as well – Check Prices
  • ⭐ Truffle Lodge (Gretna) – These luxury glamping tents are brilliant, and being right next to the Derwent River means you’ve got a really good chance of spotting one of the local platypus – Check Prices
  • Mountain Valley Wilderness Retreat (Loongana) – Their eco-cabins are right next to the River Leven, and you also get a free evening platypus tour – More
  • Left of Field Caravan Park and Campground (Mt Field) – This quirky caravan park gets rave reviews from all its guests (check out the bush bath!) and it is also right next to the Tyenna River – More
  • Huon Valley Caravan Park – Ranelagh is a lovely village in the heart of the Huon Valley, and the stretch of Huon River that the local caravan parks sits on is always getting plenty of platypus sightings – More
  • Mole Creek Caravan Park (Mole Creek) – Another excellent caravan park option, this time on the banks of Sassafras Creek. It’s a quiet location with an unusually high chance of seeing a platypus just metres from your camp site – More

Platypus in Geelong.jpg
By TwoWings - Platypus being shown to children - (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Platypus House Tasmania

As much as we would all love to see a platypus in the wild, you can’t exactly snap your fingers and have one turn up exactly where and when you want it.

But the next best thing is a visit to Platypus House Tasmania!

You’ll find Platypus House in Beauty Point on the western bank of the Tamar River, about a 45 minute drive from Launceston, or 1hr from Devonport – and we can 100% guarantee that you will see a platypus here.

Rain, hail or shine, your ticket will provide you with a fantastic tour of their platypus ponds, where you get to meet Big Jupiter, Poppy, Dawn ,Freya and their newest addition, Pumpkin!

That isn’t all, because they also have a forest garden full of foraging echidnas. Strange as it may seem, the spiky echidna is actually the closest living relative to the platypus, so it makes sense that you can see both in the one place 🙂

Prices: Approx. $21.50 for adults | $14.90 for children

Platypus tours

A platypus tour is an excellent way of not only increasing your chances of seeing a platypus in the wild (locals always know the best places!), but they are also a great way of learning more about these incredible creatures from an expert.

These are some of our favourite platypus tours in Tasmania:

  • ⭐ Tassie Bound ‘Paddle with the Platypus’ – River Derwent – Check Prices
  • ⭐ Mt Field 2-hr Platypus Walking Tour – Tyenna RIver – Check Prices
  • Platypus Encounters – Latrobe Tasmania – More
  • Cradle Country Adventures ‘Platypus Paddling Tour’ – Mersey River – More
  • Wild Platypus Tours – Fernglade Reserve – More
  • Pepperbush Adventures – More

Final thoughts on platypus in Tasmania

We hope you have found this guide useful in planning your road trip itinerary to include a few platypus spotting locations or tours.

And don’t forget, even if you don’t see a platypus on your travels you still get to spend a day out in the beautiful Tasmanian wilderness!

For plenty more articles like this please keep browsing the website. Or visit our Facebook group to share your platypus photos and to get free travel tips and advice from fellow road trippers.

Happy travels,

Andrew.

Travel planning resources

We love the range of travel guides and maps from Lonely Planet (great for when you hit one of Tassie’s notorious internet blackspots).

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Platypus in Tasmania
Andrew Strikis

Andrew Strikis

Andrew is an award-winning travel writer and photographer from Tasmania. Over the last 10 years he has been an advocate for Tasmanian tourism, working with and supporting many of Tasmania's prominent organisations such as Tourism Northern Tasmania, Hobart and Beyond, and MONA. Together with his wife he enjoys exploring Tasmania by road, and he looks forward to helping others plan and enjoy their own Lap of Tasmania road trip.

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