How To See A Platypus In The Wild in NSW: Secrets About Where & What To Look For

Some items on the bucket list are more laborious to tick than others, and it can particularly be true for spotting native wild animals. You can find a wild kangaroo only a few minutes out of a major Australian city (or even less… did you hear the story about the one on Sydney Harbour Bridge?!). But spotting a platypus in the wild is a whole other story. It took me more than six years and hours of patience to make it happen. Finally!

Not only did I see one platypus in the wild that day, but I saw at least four of these one-of-a-kind animals!

Bombala Platypus Country - See platypus in the wildAnd I almost skipped this opportunity. As we were driving around NSW for our Xmas holiday road trip, we had the option to make a detour on our way from the coast to Mount Kosciuszko to try to spot a platypus at the Bombala Reserve. We first decided it wasn’t worth it as, many times, we wasted hours trying to see the shy creature. But closer to the intersection, we hesitated. We stuck to the plan for a few hundred metres before turning around to follow the sign to head towards the Platypus country. One of those days when our hearts speak in unison louder than our reasonable minds.

Half an hour later, we arrived in Bombala. It looked promising: all the signs in town had an image of a platypus. It seems to be the best place to spot a platypus in the wild if you’re travelling between Sydney and Melbourne.

If you’re near Sydney, check out the Blue Lake at Jenolan Caves.

If you’re headed towards Brisbane, check out this Platypus Walk near Byron Bay* or try your luck at the Rocky Creek Dam viewing platform in Byron Bay Hinterland (reopens in March 2018).


Not travelling in NSW? You can try your luck with a detour to the Otways during your drive on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria or a detour to Eungella when in Northern Queensland (Mackay region), not too far from the Whitsundays. These two spots are also very reputed for seeing a platypus in the wild.


How to spot a platypus in the wild

Bombala Platypus reserve - platformWe could see a platypus in the middle of the afternoon at Bombala Reserve, with light rain and a bit of wind. However, the best time to see a platypus is at dawn or dusk and when there is no movement in the water.

That’s the time when they leave their look for food. Platypus dive in to catch invertebrates like shrimps and go back to the surface to breathe. When they’re at the surface, they make a V shape in the water. And that’s when you can spot the elusive animal.

Don’t get your expectations too high: platypus scare easy, and they’ll keep their distance. You’ll increase your chances by staying quiet and not moving much. It felt like bird watching.

At Bombala, we were on a platform, so we were far away. However, the height was great to see the shapes in the water better. Without binoculars, you’ll only see shapes moving.

Did you know the first time British scientific saw a platypus, they thought it was a hoax? If you want to learn more about this very special animal, read this page from the NSW Government.


Responsible Tip: Platypus can drown if they get entangled in litter. Picking up rubbish left by others during your walks can save animals. Plus, it is one more step towards keeping pristine waterways.

Bombala Platypus River 01
Bombala Platypus River 02

Platypus V shape in the water
See a platypus in the wild - Bombala

Have you ever seen a platypus? Where was that? Share your experience in the comments below!


Where is Bombala Platypus Reserve?


Bombala is approximately five hours away from Sydney and six hours away from Melbourne. It doesn’t make a weekend destination itself, but it’s a detour worth doing if you are visiting more popular places nearby.

Bombala was a one-hour detour when we were on our way from NSW East Coast to Mount Kosciuszko. It made a great stop after two-hour driving from Narooma. It also takes two hours to drive to Kosciuszko National Park from Bombala.



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I am a part-time traveler: I combine a full-time job with a passion for traveling. I love to share my trips and tips to inspire others to explore what’s around them. Before moving to Australia, I lived in France, England and Turkey. I’ve finally found my balance in Brisbane.

7 thoughts on “How To See A Platypus In The Wild in NSW: Secrets About Where & What To Look For

  1. What a unique experience! I have never seen a Platypus in a real live. Only through children’s program on TV about animals I believe. Thank you for sharing how to spot them and I didn’t know that they hard to find.

  2. Platypus are indeed unique creatures. Only one of 5 of the extant mammals that lay eggs. Indeed so precious for anthropology and zoology.. You are so lucky to see these unique creatures, your pointers will come in handy when we get a chance to get into the wild and see these amazing creatures.

  3. I lived in Australia for 3 years and never saw a platypus in the wild. I didn’t specifically look for it either. I wish I knew about the Platypus Walk near Byron Bay. I really miss Australia, especially Byron Bay, such a beautiful place. Hope I can go back soon. I would be sure to check out for the Platypuses when I go :D

  4. I must admit that I haven’t known how a platypus looks like until now. Tips for spotting it into the wild remind me of my jungle walk in Chitwan, Nepal. We were given the same advice when it came to rhinos and crocodiles.

What do you think?