Distracted by a Platypus!

I have always said that doing theatre out in the open can be distracting and no more so than today! If you read one of my previous posts “Louisa’s Nature Walk” you will read about the platypus that appeared at the bottom of the Cascade Gardens. A few days later, after the initial sighting, it re-appeared, just as we were approaching the pool where we had spotted him before. “Louisa” started telling the audience to keep quiet because we might see it. As if on cue, one of the audience said, “There it is!” and, sure enough, we all got a quick glimpse of it diving back to safety. The audience were most impressed and wondered if it was a toy we had on a string but, no such artful tricks are necessary – it’s the real thing!

Today, I again saw the platypus when I was leading the audience down onto “The Hulk” (these were the ex battle ships which housed the convicts awaiting transportation on the River Thames). I spotted the, by now, familiar ripples and saw him dive, it was so hard to keep my mind on my lines, I wanted to turn the audience around and say “There’s a platypus!”. However, as at this point of Louisa’s Walk, we are supposed to be on an abandoned war ship on the River Thames in London, I resisted. There is such a thing as the suspension of disbelief!

Today, on the return walk, back up to the top of the Cascades, when we are firmly in Van Diemens Land and Louisa is with her William, it was appropriate to get excited and tell the audience that, if they were very fortunate, we might see a platypus. Well, were we in for a treat; we waited quietly, eyes alert for telltale ripples when, sure enough, he surfaced and really put on a show for us. One of our audience, Duncan, had a very professional camera and got some wonderful shots with a zoom lens. Duncan has promised to send me the photos so I can post them on this blog. It was hard to tear ourselves away from this natural performance a platypus is such an elusive creature. I have lived in Tasmania for over 35 years and have only ever seen one once.

We were wondering if he is getting used to people? Several years ago we worked as Island Managers on the lovely Greek island of Ikaria. Part of our duties, was to take clients for a guided walk around one of the beautiful canyons at the bottom of which flowed a stream. This stream was home to small terrapins. Both Chris and I remember, at the beginning of the season, that these creatures were very shy but, by the end they were boldly approaching us for the food we would throw to them. Could it be this platypus is getting used to human contact?

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