Eungella National Park

After spending a day of doing the mundane stuff such as re-stocking, re-charging, laundry, internet etc. we headed out to Eungella national Park which is just about the complete opposite of the Whitsunday Islands.

At 500 sq. kms. this national park is quite small by Australian standards. It’s also quite mountainous and has large areas of tropical vegetation but importantly for us it is cooler and less humid than the coast where temperatures have been getting into the high 30’s of late. The drive from the coast is lovely and took us through a long valley with thousands of acres of sugar cane on either side of the road.

In the Eungella national park there are several unique species of birds and frogs but it is the platypus that we hoped to see. The platypus is a monotreme which is one of only two mammals in the world – the echidna being the other – that lays eggs but suckles its young and it only lives on the east coast of Australia. This duck billed, otter footed, beaver tailed mammal baffled naturalists for over a hundred years. Many thought it so odd that they regarded it as a fraud. Discovered in 1799 it wasn’t until 1884 that anyone found the platypus eggs. At a major naturalist conference later that year it was put in the mammalium camp but it was a close run thing. It could easily have been a reptile.

We spent our first night at the Platypus Bushcamp, a real jungle camp. Just think of ‘I’m a Celebrity’ and you’re just about there. It has toilets and showers deep in the rainforest and also has a natural swimming hole overhanging with trees and just a short walk away there is a small natural pond where sometimes platypus can be seen especially at dawn or dusk. We took a glass of wine each at dusk and sat quietly until dark but unfortunately no platypus showed up. We did, however, see the tiny azure blue kingfisher feeding from the the top of the pond. This bird is also unique to this area in Australia. It comes from Papua New Guinea.

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