Mackay: Scuba Diving in Platypus Waters, What It’s Really Like

In Eungella National Park near Mackay, you have the opportunity to scuba dive in the rainforest, in platypus waters. Sounds exciting? If you’re interested in the experience, there are a few things you should know before rushing for it.

Are you covered for scuba diving by your travel insurance? I recommend double checking to avoid bad surprises if an incident happens. If you don’t have insurance, you may be interested in reading more about DAN and WorldNomads*.
Mackay: Scuba Diving in Platypus Waters, What It’s Really Like

1. Set the right expectations for your dive in platypus water

This is not a platypus dive. If you want to see a platypus in the wild, Eungella National park is the right choice. But you’d be better joining a land tour* or wandering from one platform to another in Broken River.

The dive is in platypus waters: a couple of platypuses live there permanently. And they should be hunting while you are in the water. However, it’s unlikely that you will see a platypus underwater. The visibility is limited, so you’d need to be on the way between a platypus and its food to see one. That’s also how the experience is sold, as they write in the tour description* you get “a chance of being in the water at the same time as a platypus.”

I had a look at the TripAdvisor comments*, the Viator reviews* and the Facebook photos of the dive operator: no one saw a platypus underwater recently.

Is it still worth going although the chances to dive with a platypus are meager?

I think so. But some say it’s expensive for a shore dive in a small area with reduced visibility. That’s true, but we found the experience to be different from any other dives we’ve done, and we appreciated the originality.

Broken River Mackay Platypus
Platypus from Broken River bridge
Responsible Travel Tip: Like many native Australian animals, platypuses face conservation threats. Drought, clearing vegetations, polluted waterways, predators… They struggle in some places. But if you like spotting platypuses, you can help! Have you ever heard of citizen science? During your travels, you can help researchers by providing data. Check this out: platypusSPOT

2. The platypus experience happens before the dive

This may have been the highlight of our experience.

I had never seen such a prepared dive briefing. Luana used books, photos and even plush toys to teach things about one of the most fascinating animals in the world. It was a pleasure to share and learn from her passion.

It’s not your usual scuba diving trip.

Don’t go for it thinking you’ve just booked for an experience underwater. It surely is not the most impressive dive in Australia. It’s all about learning more about platypuses and discovering and experiencing their environment.

3. Things to see underwater when diving in the rainforest

Although we didn’t get to see a platypus, we found it interesting to have a peek at where and how they live. Plus, we rarely get the opportunity to dive in freshwater. I had no idea there could be that many prawns down there. Now, I understand why the platypuses dive so often when they’re hunting!

Mackay: Scuba Diving in Platypus Waters, What It’s Really Like

We also met a few turtles which is always a pleasure. We’re used to the big sea turtles, so the small fresh ones were a nice encounter. You’ll also find small fish and some eels down there.

Mackay: Scuba Diving in Platypus Waters, What It’s Really Like

4. Gear up for the cold

Who would have thought scuba diving in Mackay could be cold?! When you scuba dive in the rainforest, you aren’t on the coast anymore and the freshwater is a lot cooler than the ocean.

Don’t start worrying. It wasn’t as cold as we expected. But from a Queensland point of view, the 20°C water qualifies as cold water. Because the dive is very slow, don’t count on movement to keep you warm.

The dive shop provided good wetsuits and some accessories to help (e.g., gloves*, diving socks*). I was glad I took my hoodie* and my fleece top*. I didn’t get cold.

6. Wear red

Again, don’t go there to see a platypus. But if you want to increase your chances of a miracle to happen, then gear up in red. Previous platypus spotting underwater happened with red as they seem to look for this colour and may mistake it for a shrimp.

7. Photo tips

My biggest tip here is to attach your gear*. The visibility isn’t great in so you don’t want to drop something.

Amateurs will find it difficult to take photos while diving in the platypus waters. With the low visibility, the green water, and the fast critters, most photos turned out blurry. We had the best results by taking videos.

Mackay: Scuba Diving in Platypus Waters, What It’s Really Like

8. Bring a torch

Having a torch was fantastic to be able to find my group with the low visibility. It’s not a must have (unless you’re night diving of course), as you can just stand up out of the water to surface if you can’t see them anymore.

The torch also really helped to see the details of the shrimps, and the beautiful shiny reflections of the small silver fish.

9. You can dive as long as you want

That’s what is written on the website when you place a booking. However, we stopped the dive after finishing our first round around the creek. We still had a lot of air and I didn’t feel cold at all. I’m unsure if we could have had one more round. We didn’t ask. We felt we had seen enough and were keen to wrap it up to enjoy dinner and the fireplace at Broken River Mountain Resort*.

10. You have to choose between an afternoon or night dive

Unfortunately, you cannot combine both for your rainforest dive. Platypuses usually start hunting around 3pm, so you’d still get a (again, highly unlikely) chance to see the nocturnal animal.

You may gain in visibility during the afternoon. But I liked the night dive as it allowed us to have more time during the day to explore the region. Also, it was easier to follow my buddies and know what they were looking at thanks to their torches. And I’m always a big fan of night dive.

Best-platypus-viewing-time-tips-to-spot-platypus-in-the-wild
Signage in Broken River

Where to stay after scuba diving?

We drove to Broken River just after the dive. We wanted to wake up early to maximise our chances to see a platypus up there. We stayed at Broken River Mountain Resort*. It was fantastic to have the fireplace to warm us, and we had a microwave and cutlery to cook our own dinner. They also have a restaurant on site.

If you prefer not to drive up the mountain at night, there are a few options for accommodation in Finch Hatton. If you plan to see the Cape Hillsborough kangaroos on the beach at sunrise, it’s better to drive there in the evening. You don’t want to rush in the morning!

Where can you dive in platypus water?

The rainforest scuba dive is in Finch Hatton, in Eungella National Park. It takes around one hour to drive from Mackay to Finch Hatton.

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