The Yungaburra Platypus

Saturday 10th November, afternoon
The township has the spread out, casually end of the world look we’ve seen on the Scottish isles. Admittedly its a different end of the world. The trees might have been sketched by Lear and the birds too. We wander into a bookshop in our search for a coffee shop. The owner is seated in one armchair and his associate, mate or cobber in another. The shop is a large shed filled from top to bottom with books. ‘I can get you a coffee’ says the owner. It turns out to be a three dollar coffee rather than the complimentary one I’d sort of been hoping for but it looks good and we sit outside with him and his mate. He was Born in Swansea and came over with his family in the 1950s. He is an interesting speaker and tells us of his adventures as a book dealer and collector. He compares the obsession to gold prospecting. He speaks of trips to Paris to hunt down rare volumes, of how he sells at a profit but sometimes keeps a plum item for himself. A hard bound edition of ‘The Devil’s Regiment’ is such a volume. He defends the book against ‘Kimbles, kindles whatever they’re called.’ He looks forward to the time when they’re obsolete and people return to the book which he will then sell at a vast price.
We ask about the platypus. They are supposed to inhabit he creek just beyond Yungaburra. ‘Oh, yes ‘ he says ‘you can see them often’ speaking so casually about the fabulous beast.
We walk to the creek. It is muddy and brown, surrounded by trees. We follow the path through it to the road at he end of town. We’re about to retrace our steps thinking to return tomorrow when we meet a couple who ask us if we’ve seen any. He tells us they’ve seen platypus for the last couple of days. We stroll back down the creek. The couple stop frozen by the water. The man is pointing. There is a dark shape crossing the brown stream. It disappears into he bank. We wait. The platypus reappears and crosses the stream again. I rush to capture it on the camcorder. For half an hour we follow the antediluvian beast as it zigzags its way upstream. I get a lot of good shots. It is not timid. It is photogenic and knows it is the star if the show. We cannot believe we are looking at this living fossil, this legend, this icon, this epiphany of the bizarre. And its as real and as everyday and as matter-of-fact as a cat or dog. We are elated as we walk back towards the township.
The Capricorn night is falling at breakneck speed as we shop in a well stocked food store for spuds and biscuits and an eight dollar map which is mainly adverts and largely useless for navigational purposes as we miss the Lake Eacham turn on the way back and have to turn back at lake Barrine. We find our turn and drive into the living myriaphonic dark.



One thought on “The Yungaburra Platypus

  1. I love the platypus picture. And of course the confusion about the night sky must be fun. L xx

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