Here we go. We are heading off into the Otways for some adventure. We are gong on a search for the elusive platypus in the depths, or more correctly on the edges, of Lake Elizabeth. Lake Elizabeth is near Forrest, a small town inland from Apollo Bay. It was formed sometime back in the 1950s (I think) when a landslip dammed a small river flowing down to the sea. It is perched quite high up in the Otways, dead trees rise from its depths slowly rotting away. Only small, about a kilometre long and a couple hundred metres wide at most. Our canoe trip was to start at 6pm, meeting at the Forrest craft brewery. What an interesting place to start from! Allthego will pick up the story from there a bit later. A bit to see along the way before then.
Late the previous day we were driving along a back road in the valley behind Apollo Bay and spotted a koala battling along beside the road in the ditch, seemingly trying to climb up the bank. Homealone thought he (is this gender bias?) was lost, poor little fellow. Anyway, Allthego stopped the truck and took a few snaps, the little fellow scuttled up a tree and looked down pensively on the threat below. Homealone thought he was scared. After a little while we moved on back to camp.
On the way to Forrest we called in at the California Redwoods grove, experimentally planted in 1936. Quite a sight, planted a bit over 80 years ago and with a long way yet to reach their max height. It was cloudy and a bit drizzly here, sombre among the trees. A bit further along Hopetoun Falls were working strongly, another one of those short walks to the bottom, but with about 200 steps to come back up. Triplet Falls promised much of the same and we only went about half way before turning back. But it was on this walk that we sighted the shy Otway Black Carnivorous Snail. Homealone spotted it lurking just beside the trail. This slow-moving beast is not a threat to humans but is to small insects, other slow goers and also other snails. Fascinating little fellow.
It was now getting on time wise and we had decided to have dinner at the Forrest craft brewery before going off looking for platypus. Wildlife Warriors need to be fed. Great little establishment this. Allthego had a plate full of lamb ribs, covered in a sticky sauce with dukkha liberally sprinkled over it. Really tasty, Homealone had some smoked salmon and accompaniments on toasted sour dough.
Following dinner we met up with our guide and set off to Lake Elizabeth, about a 20 min drive, followed by a 1 km walk along a reasonably good up and down bush track to the shores of the lake. There were 5 of us plus the guide. 3 in each canoe, which were strapped together so the guide could paddle both at once. Allthego and Homealone got into the canoe with no great trouble, getting out might be different matter but that was to be in about an hour and half after the sun had gone down, around 8.30pm. Lake Elizabeth reminded Allthego of Lake Placid. The movie in which Betty White had nurtured a giant crocodile and to which she had fed her husband. Not a great movie.
We paddled around on this Lake, up and down, side to side for an hour and half, searching out the elusive platypus along the shoreline. As the evening wore on and the sun set a feeling of despondency was setting in as no sightings had been made. Our guide gave a little running commentary on the platypus and where we might see it. He told us there were about 8 platypus in this expanse of water. Feelings of despondency did not diminish at this disclosure! Then out of the blue 50 or 60 metres ahead of us one appeared gliding across the lake headed for the other side. A slim line in the water. We followed it hoping for a closer look. But these little fellows are tricky and we saw no more of it. There were a couple of other sightings of these streaks on the water, which added some excitement and expectation. But no, that was as close as we got!
We returned to the landing and quickly alighted from the canoe, Homealone and Allthego got out very efficiently. The walk back was at a cracking pace in the engulfing gloom. Our way was partly lit by glow worms in the banks beside the track. Our guide gave up his phone to Homealone, it’s torch guiding us along the trail.
We arrived back at the car and headed for Apollo Bay. In retrospect the Wildlife Warriors perhaps should have thought harder about the chances of sighting the timid, shy and elusive platypus in Lake Elizabeth. But it was good fun and the craft beer and food at the Forrest Brewery topped it off.