Here is our story about our hunt for the exotic and elusive wild platypus while we lived in Australia. This first part is from my husband's perspective. He wrote this recap to my parents the same evening. Since he rarely gets involved in the writing on this blog, I thought it would be fun to hear it first from his perspective. I elaborate a bit at the end.
After our hike to the Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park, QLD, we took a left out of the parking lot to travel through the valley. Up ahead, I saw a sign for a camping location where you can rent out a log cabin. Inside the driveway, the owner approached us and we inquired about any other tourist sites in the area. He provided some brochures and then invited us to park and hike along a trail on the property down to a creek where platypus live. Naturally, this sparked everyone's excitement, except mine. I half-heartedly attempted to wait in the car knowing it was going to be a REAL hike. It was a rocky, slightly muddy, and a gradual descent down. You know that feeling you get when traveling down an unknown road and your gut tells you maybe you should turn around and go back? Well, that's how Stevyn and I were about 3/4 of the way down. Nevertheless, we persisted, only to be rewarded by the absence of platypus, Silas getting both shoes soaked, Stevyn's 'hitchhiker', and the best of all....Morgan had a breakdown. The poor little thing was dealing with a runny nose and was exhausted. She cried for every bit of twenty minutes and we almost needed to have her airlifted out. Fast forward 30 minutes down the road and Stevyn looks down at her hands to see they are covered in blood. "That's bizarre" she says, "I must have cut myself, but I don't feel any pain". She bled and bled until we reached the petrol station. I went in to the toilet and upon returning she got out to help the kids. That's when she noticed the fat leech squirming in her seat....and these are the days of our Australian lives. Troy"
While I love that we did this hike and have this memory, if I was faced with it again, I would not do it. The property owner told us it was a 700 meter walk down the trail to the platypus pond. Keep in mind that we are Americans which means that we had no concept of the metric system and how far 700 meters actually was. To me, it sounded exciting and romantic to see a platypus in the wild, and 700 meters couldn't be that far, right? So we went for it. Little did we know that 700 meters IS far on a trail so steep. Troy called it a "gradual descent" above, but he understated the grade. Check out the rope tied to the trees in the picture above. It was to help pull yourself up! It was steep, rocky, and full of tangled roots to trip over. Add a crying 5 year old and it is not a scene I want to repeat anytime soon. Plus, knowing what I know now about Australian snakes and other critters, I bet there are 30 things hidden in this picture that could have killed us instantly. (shiver) Fortunately, the only critter that got us was my leach.
I will admit that the stream and rock pool at the bottom of the ravine were exquisite (and probably peaceful if Morgan hadn't been crying). Unfortunately, it was either too early in the day to see the platypus since they tend to come out at dusk, or maybe Morgan's bellowing scared them off.
On the way home I found random blood all over my hands, and when I finally found the "cut" between my fingers, I was sure I had a blood disorder since it would not stop bleeding. Little did I know that it was just your friendly Australian LEACH! The picture below is the leach sitting in the seat of the car. Once it got full of my blood, it must have dropped off my hand and wanted a little snuggle time with me in the seat. I never even knew it was on my hand. YUCK! How did I get a leach if I didn't go in the water?
Even though we didn't get to see the elusive platypus, we did learn a piece of trivia during our research. The male platypus is venomous. The males have a spur on their hind leg that injects venom into its victim.
So here are my take aways from this adventure:
I am a wife, mother, and exercise physiologist with one foot in the world of travel and one foot in the world of fitness. This blog is a mixture of travel adventures and wellness topics that affect women and their families. We've travelled, first in our Airstream and then in Australia, while attempting to balance work, life, health, and relationships. It's been an amazing journey so far. Join me as we navigate new places, adjust to small spaces, and meet new faces.