Location: Lake Saint Clair in Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park
Length: 5 kilometres
Grade: 2 (suitable for most on a flat track)
Distance from: Hobart - 174 km, Launceston - 171 km, Devonport - 178 km
The platypus is one of the world's most unique animals. Defying categorization, this mammal lays eggs, features a duck's bill, a beaver-like body and males have a venomous spur on their legs. It's also shy and reclusive. Catching a glimpse of this odd-ball can be very difficult. They like slow-running water and most often present themselves at dusk. If you really want to see a platypus in the wild, your best bet is at the platypus viewing hide at Platypus Bay in southern Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. You can find it in the midst of a pleasant, easy walk on the shore of Lake St. Clair near Derwent Bridge.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park is a bit misleading. While the name suggests it's one national park, Cradle Moutain and Lake St. Clair are not connected by roads. You'd have to take a long, roundabout route to get from Cradle Mountain in the north to Lake St. Clair in the south. This walk takes place on the shores of Lake St. Clair near the small town of Derwent Bridge. Take Lake St. Clair Rd out of Derwent Bridge to the Parks and Wildlife Building where you'll find the trailhead.
Hobart is 174 kilometres and 2 hours and 23 minutes away. The drive from Launceston spans 171 kilometres and takes the same 2 hours and 23 minutes. Devonport is a bit further sitting 178 kilometres to the north. That drive should take you about 2 hours and 38 minutes.
Boardwalks, steps and a gravel track take you past wattle, tea tree and banksia to the shores of Lake St. Clair. At the 1.5-kilometre mark, you'll arrive at the confluence of Cuvier and Hugel Rivers as they pour into Lake St. Clair. After crossing the Watersmeet Bridge, the trail bears right towards the lake.
You'll soon be at the platypus lookout hide. It's best to be here at dusk. You'll have to be quiet and patient in order to see this rare creature in the wild. And Tasmania is the place to scope platypus as they are larger here than they are on the mainland.
You'll then be brought to the shore of the lake which is a great spot for a break, a nibble and a picture. The trail then ascends a bit to hook up with the world-famous Overland Track. Bear left to return to Watersmeet and the carpark.
The visitor centre at the trailhead offers up toilet facilities, picnic tables, informational displays and huts. Provisions can be purchased in the town of Derwent Bridge.
Weather can change rapidly at Lake St. Clair. Pack warm clothing that is good against rain, hail and even snow.