Diamond Creek self-guided platypus bike tour


On the Diamond Creek trail between Edendale Community Environment Farm in Eltham and Allendale Road, 10 Platypus decals have been installed with fun facts about the life cycle and unique quirky features of the platypus, as well as tips on what we can all do to preserve their habitat and become a Platypus Protector. The decals are spread over a round trip of approximately 5kms.

Start at Edendale with Decal 1, and do the round trip to see if you can spot all 10 decals!

Click here for information about other Platypus Celebration activities

This page supports the decals and is accessible via the QR Code on the decals.

Decal 1 - A Unique and Vulnerable Australian



The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is also known as the duck-billed Platypus. In the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung language it is called a Dulai wurrung.


We all know and love the Platypus but this unique and iconic Aussie is in trouble.  In Victoria in 2021 the Platypus was officially declared a threatened species and classified as vulnerable.  The Platypus is listed as endangered in South Australia and is nominated for listing in NSW and nationally.

When early white explorers first saw a Platypus, its considerable uniqueness caused much confusion and doubt amongst European naturalists and scientists, with many believing the animal was a fake.

Decal 2 - There are Platypus in the Diamond Creek


Platypuses live in bodies of fresh water that have earth banks with roots, overhanging vegetation and reeds. Submerged logs are also essential for the availability of food.

 The Platypus lives in freshwaters waterways on the east coast of Australia, from far north Queensland to the altitudes of Tasmania. The Platypus also calls the Diamond Creek and its tributaries home.

The Diamond Creek starts in Kinglake National Park where the water is clean and clear, perfect for the Platypus. From Kinglake National Park the creek makes it way down to the Yarra River at Eltham Lower Park (miniature railway). On this journey the water of the Diamond Creek passes through farms, orchards, vineyards, various Nillumbik townships and finally Eltham, collecting a range of pollutants along the way.

Over the years Platypus sightings have occurred through Nillumbik including at Arthurs Creek, Hurstbridge, Diamond Creek and Eltham and at the confluence of the Diamond Creek and the Yarra River.

Decal 3 - A Platypus Bill has Electroreceptors

Their bills are soft and rubbery, the perfect shovel for digging up food from the riverbed. They also use their bills to detect electrical signals given off by prey.

The Platypus is well adapted for a semi-aquatic lifestyle and can stay underwater for 30-140 seconds. Its streamlined body and broad, flat tail are covered with dense waterproof fur providing excellent thermal insulation. It propels itself through the water by using its front, short, webbed limbs, and the partially-webbed hind feet act as rudders.

The Platypus closes its eyes, ears and nostrils when foraging underwater and uses its bill which is equipped with receptors sensitive to pressure, and with electro-receptors which detect tiny electrical impulses generated by the muscular contractions of its prey.

It was recently discovered that Platypus glow in the dark under UV light. They absorb sunlight during the day, and emit the light at a different wavelength at night, which can be seen as a blue-green colour under ultraviolet light. It is thought the glowing may help the nocturnal animal see other Platypuses in the dark.

Decal 4 - Platypus Keep Foraged Food in a Cheek Pouch


They can eat up to 20% of their own body weight in one night and mostly feed on invertebrates like beetles, insect larvae, tadpoles and snails.

The platypus has a carnivorous diet mostly consisting of aquatic macroinvertebrates (i.e. insect larvae, worms, crustaceans) and they forage for up to 12 hours per day.

Platypus don’t have stomachs but have a gullet that connects directly to their intestines. Platypus lack teeth and stomach acids to break down their food, so they grind their food between the horny plates of it bill. They also they push gravel into their cheeks to help grind food as they float at the water’s surface.


Decal 5 - Platypuses are Monotremes


They have characteristics of mammals, birds and reptiles. Female Platypus lay up to 3 eggs. Bean-sized babies emerge from the egg after 10 days.

The Platypus is in a family grouping called monotremes. There are only two species in this grouping being the Platypus and the Echidna, both Australian mammal icons. Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs rather giving birth to live young.

Platypus are usually solitary animals coming together at breeding season. Courtship includes aquatic activities such as rolling sideways together, diving, touching and passing. After mating the female builds a nest in a long burrow. She also spends 4-5 days collecting wet nesting material to prevent her eggs and hatchlings from drying out,

Platypus live for approximately 20 years in the wild.


Decal 6 - Platypus Milk is Full of Antibacterial Properties


A baby Platypus, or puggle, is fed milk for about 4 months. Milk is secreted through pores and licked off the mother’s fur.

Female Platypus do not have nipples, but release milk from 2 mammary gland ducts on their abdomen – the babies drink it up by sucking it out the folds of their mother’s skin or fur.

The female spends most of this time with her young in the burrow, and as the young grow, she increasingly leaves them to forage. Towards the end of the summer the young emerge from the burrow and their fate as young independent animals is still largely unknown.

Males are not involved in rearing the young. 


Decal 7 - Platypus Defences


Male Platypuses have a spur that is used to inject venom, most likely to protect its territory during mating season. This is not lethal to humans but is extremely painful!

The Platypus is vulnerable to attack with traditional predators being goannas and eagles. In modern Australia introduced foxes and dogs are a big threat to Platypuses.

While all Platypus are vulnerable, the male Platypus has a sharp poisonous hollow spur on its back legs. The poisonous spur is thought to be used as a defence against other male Platypus during breeding season and also against predators. Poison glands are located inside the leg and the venom can be injected with a slashing kick.

Many extinct mammals are thought to have had similar venom / spur defence mechanisms so the Platypus retains what was once a relatively common mammalian characteristic.


Decal 8 - Platypuses are a Threatened Species


Platypus populations are under constant threat from pollution, habitat destruction, poor water quality, sediment build up and predators.

Recent long-term surveys found that there are widespread declines of Platypus populations across the east coast of Australia including some local extinctions.

Platypus are particularly vulnerable to getting tangled in litter because of their paddle-like front feet. These are great for swimming but terrible at pulling off objects. If litter gets caught around a platypus's body, it tends to persist for a long time, gradually cutting into the animal's body and causing infections.

A huge range of items have been found to cause serious harm to a platypus, including elastic hair ties, loops of fishing line, loops of twine, tamper-proof food jar seals, a hospital ID bracelet, plastic cable-ties, an engine gasket, a canning jar seal, a child's plastic bracelet and many different plastic loops or rings of unknown origin.

Other contributing factors to the decline of Platypus populations include habitat loss and fragmentation, consumption of rubbish (hair ties, plastic), yabby traps, water pollution and predation by introduced animals (dogs, foxes).

Climate change is an accelerating threat as it is impacting waterway flows, water temperature and general river health.

We are at a critical point in time for this lovable icon and you can help.

Decal 9 - Act Today to Save the Platypus


These 3 simple actions will help to change the future for our platypuses:

  1. Pick up Litter (cut circular waste items)
  2. Keep dogs on a leash around waterways
  3. Keep home and garden chemicals out of stormwater


There are many other actions you can personally take to help the Platypus including:

Pick up after your dog to prevent germs and nutrients entering the storm water and / or the Diamond Creek

  1. Never use Opera house nets to catch yabbies as Platypus can drown in them
  2. Always take all fishing line home to prevent entanglement
  3. Install a water tank or rain garden to reduce impact of storm water flooding creeks after major rain events
  4. Reduce use of garden chemicals (insecticide, pesticides, fertilizers) as they can contaminate storm water and flow into local creeks
  5. Never put anything down a storm water drain, it is only for rain.


Decal 10 - Become a Platypus Protector


There are many ways to take action and get involved in platypus preservation:

 1. Join a tree planting even

2. Volunteer with WaterWatch

3. Report sightings on the platypusSPOT app

Getting involved in community platypus conservation is easy.


Revegetation in and around wildlife corridors including the Diamond Creek and its tributaries is a great way to improve the habitat of the platypus. There are many community groups and events to get involved in:

Clean Up Australia

Clean Up Australia inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment. https://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au. While Clean Up Australia day is the first Sunday in March, Clean up events can be run at any time of the year


Waterwatch Australia is an initiative to help us understand, monitor, care for and sustainably manage our most precious natural asset – water. It is a network of citizen scientists that monitor local waterways – it could be a creek, pond, lake, dam, wetland, lagoon or estuary. http://www.vic.waterwatch.org.au/cb_pages/get_involved.php

platypusSPOT App

Understanding the occurrence and distribution of a species is essential for effective management and conservation. Many potentially useful observations of platypuses are made by local residents, workers, tourists, fishermen, campers, hikers/bushwalkers and general outdoor recreationists. platypusSPOT gives you the opportunity to contribute to a community-driven database on platypus distribution, post photos and videos, view platypus sightings in your area, and interact with other ‘platypusSPOTters’.


Download the platypusSPOT app today (Apple App store and android play store) so you can record your sightings of Platypus in the Diamond Creek and its tributaries.



The web resources of Melbourne Water, Rivers of Carbon, Museum Victoria and platypusSPOT have been used to help develop this page.