Legends from our own lunchtimes

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ornithorincus anatinus

One could tell she was a Pom, because she was glowing bright red even in the dim light of the ablutions block at the camping ground.

"Had a good time at the beach?" was how Jo greeted her, in a terribly subtle way of hinting that perhaps tomorrow she should wear at least a hat and a full length UV body suit.

Girls being girls, there ensued a conversation about how fantastic her trip had been thus far. In a few weeks she'd seen one of just about every kind of native animal in the wild, Koalas, Kangaroos, Emus, Snakes even Crocodiles in the Northern Territory, the only thing she had left to tick off was the Platypus.

"You can forget that", replied Jo encouragingly. "I've been here for half a century and I've never seen one. They're pretty much impossible to see in the wild. Even just trying would be a complete waste of time."

The conversation ended, and that was that for a day or two, until we found ourselves in the town of Bright, at the foot of the Victorian High Country. The camping ground there is located on the bank of the river, near an known Platypus habitat.

Even as we were pitching our tent that earlier conversation began playing on our minds, and we resolved to go Platypus hunting.

With nothing to lose except a few hours sleep, we rose in the chill of the next morn, just before sunrise and waited by the bank.

Then we waited some more.

We thought we'd wait further down the river, but that was just as productive as waiting where we'd been earlier, so we went back and waited there.

We'd almost given up, when we saw the glint of movement on the surface of the water, then to our amazement, it appeared;

Ornithorincus anatinus, there before our very eyes.

We watched for maybe ten minutes or so until the first rays of the sun reached the water, and sent the little bloke back to his burrow for the last time that day. Oh yes, we have the photos; a little brown log floating on the brown surface of the river on brown background, but this was one of those times when you had to be there!

Filled with emotions that hovered between excitement, surprise, satisfaction and wonder, with Jo at the same time riddled with guilt that just maybe she'd talked the Pommy girl out of an impossible quest that just now seemed not at all impossible, we strolled downtown.

As the pre-dawn mist began it's skyward journey for another day, we bought a pie for breakfast.


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