Fern Glade Reserve is a perfect example of the extremes in environment found in Tasmania.   Drive barely 4kms from the centre of Burnie, a city on the north west coast with an industrial port no less, and you arrive at this peaceful, natural oasis.  The Emu River runs through the valley, and promises an opportunity to see a Tasmanian platypus… if you’re lucky!

Fern Glade - Emu River
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Emu River runs through Fern Glade Reserve, only 4kms from the heart of Burnie

Fern Glade Reserve: On A Platypus Mission

During our recent stay in Burnie, we went to Fern Glade Reserve knowing it offered the best chance to see a platypus.  And we really wanted to see one.  Desperately!  So we timed our visit for early evening; apparently this would give us the best chance to see the elusive, semi-aquatic mammal.


 

The level path that runs along the edge of the Emu River is dotted with interpretive signs about the platypus.  The mammal is endemic to eastern Australia, but the Tasmanian platypus is larger than its mainland counterpart, and spends more time on land.  With the entrance to their burrows often built above the water-line, your chances of a successful search should be higher in Tasmania than in other parts of the country.

Fern Glade - Walking Tracks
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

The walking track at Fern Glade is dotted with viewing platforms over Emu River

There’s a sculpture not far from the entrance, showing what to look for.  We knew the key was searching in silence, so we cajoled the kids into toning down their enthusiasm for the mission.  And we were at Fern Glade at the optimum time.  Surely we’d see one?  We looked, and looked, and looked… but nothing!

Fern Glade - Platypus Sculpture
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Platypus sculpture at the entrance to Fern Glade Reserve, showing what to look for

Fern Glade - Looking for a Platypus
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Looking, looking… but no platypus sighting for us at Fern Glade this time!

Walking Tracks, Tree Ferns & Native Orchids

Thankfully, there’s other reasons to enjoy Fern Glade.  A young couple quietly ate their take-away dinner at the water’s edge, with their Auto Hertz rental car parked a few metres away.  While the tourists ate their burgers, we ventured along the walking track, lined by massive tree ferns.


 

You can drive into the reserve via the main entrance off Fernglade Road, or from a second entrance 500m up-river.  Visitors have access to barbecue and picnic facilities; and strategically-placed viewing platforms have been built out over the water’s edge.

Fern Glade - Walking & Picnics
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

The walking track at Fern Glade is flanked by picnic tables and barbecue facilities

But Fern Glade Reserve does have another major attraction for flora (rather than fauna) enthusiasts.  Native orchids grow along the trail… more than a dozen species, apparently.  Probably much easier to find than a platypus!

Fern Glade - Native Orchids
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Fern Glade Reserve is also home to native orchids, on the banks of Emu River

Lynn to the Platypus Rescue!

When Lynn Gorman read about our failed attempt at platypus-spotting, as we compared it to our earlier strike-out in Deloraine, she wrote…

Deloraine definitely has platypus in the river.  We stayed in the caravan park on the river bank, took an evening walk and spent at least 30mins on the footbridge watching a platypus swimming around.  Managed to get lots of photos and even some video!  It’s just a matter of knowing where to go and being in the right place at the right time; sundown is best.

Lynn is also the reader who sent us photos of novelty mailboxes taken during her Tasmanian holiday to share.  This time, she’s provided a photo of the platypus she watched during her visit to Deloraine

Fern Glade - Deloraine Platypus Sighting
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Lynn Gorman spots a platypus in the river at Deloraine during her Tasmanian holiday

The real thing actually looks very similar to what’s represented in the sculpture, and gives us hope that one day, we will spot one.  Whether it happens in Fern Glade Reserve, Deloraine, or maybe even Geeveston or Latrobe (the town is promoted as the Platypus Capital of the World, after all)… time will tell.

Fern Glade - Platypus
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Maybe we’ll have more luck at Latrobe, the Platypus Capital of the World (Photo by Dan Fellow)

If you like this article about Tasmania, and you’d like to read more, just subscribe to our newsletter or join us on social media via FacebookTwitterPinterest or Instagram. If you really like this article, and you want others to see it, you can choose one of the “share” options below. We’d love that!

Comments relevant to this article are always most welcome, just leave a reply below. But first… please confirm the date of this article. Have you found something current, or is this ancient information? Either way, thanks for your company and come back again soon.

Map: Fern Glade Reserve, Tasmania…