Late in 2016 we embarked upon an antipodean odyssey in pursuit of the weird and wonderful wildlife that calls Tasmania home. Above all I wanted to see a platypus, a critter which, and let’s not beat about the bush here, is pretty damned weird. So obsessed was I about seeing this idiosyncratic, duck-billed, poison-clawed, egg-laying mammal that I called my blog of the trip Platypus Pandemonium.
A few days into our trip we arrived at Geeveston, a small town south of Hobart. Geeveston is unremarkable, except in one important respect. It has a redeeming feature that made it a must-go-to destination for us: it has a Platypus Walk, a stretch of river where sightings of the crazy critter are pretty much guaranteed.
Not wanting to leave anything to chance we had already decided to boost our viewing opportunities by staying at a B&B just a few yards from the Platypus Viewing Platform (I kid you not, on the Platypus Walk the good burghers of Geeveston have erected wooden staging next to the river, conveniently sited to enable nutters like us to scan upstream and downstream in search of the fabled beastie.) Here’s what I wrote about our arrival at the B&B:
We are greeted at our B&B in Geeveston, south-east Tasmania, by Glen, a jovial incomer from Queensland. In deference to the Brisbane blood coursing through his veins he wears shorts, despite the chilly weather. I shiver involuntarily on his behalf.
Next to a log stove in Glen’s sitting room lies a cat, black and white and evidently content with his lot. Mrs P bends down to fuss him, offers her hand. He sniffs at it, then turns his head away disdainfully.
“He’s a man’s cat,” explains Glen apologetically. If truth be told, I rather suspect that he’s his own cat. It’s the way with cats, I think.
We chat with Glen for a while. He’s talkative and friendly, the quintessential jovial host. Then he looks me in the eye and says “I hear from Susie [our travel agent] that you’re a Platypus Man.”
I’ve been called many things in my life, few of them repeatable in polite company. But never a Platypus Man. I roll the words around on my tongue, trying them out for size, relishing the subtle taste of mystery, the hint of the exotic.
The description has a certain ring to it, sounding enigmatic, intriguing even, but in essence positive. In fact it would work as an epitaph: “He was a singular human being, though in the nicest possible way a bit of an oddball. I guess you could say he was a Platypus Man.”
And there you have it: I am, officially, a Platypus Man. It’s become my blogging pen-name, my online alter ego. All my subsequent blogs carry the Platypus Man brand, which guarantees a heady mixture of travellers tales, whimsical observations and passionate advocacy for wildlife and conservation, all topped off with great photos courtesy of Mrs P.