Eungella

Eungella is a place about 1 hr Northwest of Mackay – it is famous for Platypus.  It is a sleepy country tourist resort – where the locals prefer the tourists to do their own thing – which is great once you know where you are going.  I’ve been up there 1/2 dozen times now so I am starting to get a handle on the place. (Eungella – Young-gell-a)

I went up a few weeks ago to get some photos of Platypus – these are extremely shy creature that are most active between 4-8 am and 3-5pm – mainly in the times when the light is low and they are quick little suckers!  Most of the time, if you are to see one at all, they appear on the surface for a few seconds and then dive again foraging for food (they love worms apparently).  They can hold their breath for 10 minutes so sightings can be few and far between.

I was extremely lucky the day I went.  I arrived around 4:30am and got myself set up and waited…and waited…and waited.  Eventually just before 6:00am I saw  my first Platypus.  They’d pop their heads up for a few seconds and then disappear again – quick little suckers!  Then I realised that the first sign was bubbles – once you saw the bubbles a Platypus sighting was imminent!

But I got really lucky – one of the little fellas decided to sit on a submerged log for about 5 minutes or more scratching and sunning himself with not a care in the world!  I got a heap of shots – but unfortunately the distance away, the size of the subject and the low light conditions weren’t conducive to great photography!

The water in the photographs looks very brown – in fact it is as clear as a bell – but the bottom is very muddy.  I have some photos of turtles fully submerged and they are as clear as!

Problems:

  • It was a very overcast day, so very low light even at 6:00am.  I was using a fast zoom lens (Canon EF 70-200 IS USM f/2.8) but even that was struggling – I started taking my Platypus shots at 1/50 sec ISO 100 (recommended minimum handheld is 1/200th – although IS helps another few stops) but then had to crank up the ISO to get anything decent.
  • The next problem is that these things are only very small (about 30cm or 12″ for those not into metric) and they were quite a distance away.  So even with the lens at 200mm, they still appeared as a small dot in the middle of the photo – I will post a few at full size so you can see what I mean.
  • To get as close as possible, I climbed over the safety rail and was perched of the edge of the bank – so my tripod was of no use to me.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Next time I will take a 2x extender (turning my 200mm lens into a 400mm lens – well really 320 – 640 as the EOS 60D is an APSC Sensor)
  2. I will take my unipod

I realise now why there are not a lot of photographs of Platypus in the wild – they are elusive, shy and very quick and hard to catch.  I was warned by a number of people that I may not even see one!

Overall – the day was a great success, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

View more Platypus Photosgraphs

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One thought on “Eungella

  1. […] Recently I went to Eungella about an hour west of Mackay to try and photograph Platypus.  I was extremely lucky in this quest and ended up with hundreds of shots, quite a few of which turned out OK.  I won’t go into the issues with photographing Platypus as I have already covered that in a previous post, Eungella. […]

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