When my girlfriend (now wife) first came to Australia, we met my family then set off on a road trip of south-eastern Australia. The idea was to introduce her to the more accessible parts of the country and see some nice scenery. We had the usual wildlife experiences – feeding rosellas in the Grampians, catching water dragons in Manly, hitting a kangaroo in my parents’ car – and a few that I didn’t expect.
As a veteran of Australia, I didn’t think I would see anything new. I thought we were lucky finding echidnas in Kangaroo Island and near the Grampians. Then on a trip to see a cave full of glow worms near Bowral, a wombat ran past us. I had never seen wombats in the wild before.
We took a random route from Melbourne to Canberra, ending up late one evening at Bombala. We found somewhere to stay. As we were checking in, the landlady said, ‘I suppose you’ve come up to see the platypuses.’ We got a few details and went to bed. Getting up before sunrise in a mountain winter wasn’t the ideal start to the day but we rugged up and went out. We hadn’t reached the river before we met a man who said, ‘Old Larry’s out in the centre pool’. What this meant was that the patriarch of the local platypus population was swimming about, very obviously and unconcernedly.
The place seemed to be crawling with the things. We later found out that this was supposed to be the best place in the world for seeing the platypus in the wild.